Catching Up With Dan Roundfield
by Micah Hart

Dan Roundfield was a three-time NBA All-Star in six seasons with the
Hawks in the late 1970’s and early ‘80s. Known for his defensive prowess,
Roundfield was named to the NBA’s All-Defensive teams five times (three times on
the first team, twice on the second) during his 11-year career.

A very successful Hawk during his tenure in Atlanta, Roundfield was part of five
playoff teams in six years, including coming within a game of the Eastern
Conference finals in 1978-79, when the Hawks lost to the Washington Bullets in
seven games.

We recently had a chance to catch up with Roundfield, who still maintains
residence in the city of Atlanta. What have you been up to lately?

Dan Roundfield: I am the business development manager for Earth Tech, a
division of Tyco, doing environmental engineering. We also do transportation
design and we have a federal project side that we work with. I’ve been doing
this off and on since I retired. I got a degree in marketing, so this is what I
do! Looking back on your career, what would you say are your most
cherished memories?

DR: I would say I have two. One, we made the playoffs when I first came
here. We played Washington in a seven-game series in the second round, and
probably should have beat them, so that was great.

My second favorite memory was playing with Dominique Wilkins for two seasons.
They didn’t call him the Human Highlight Film for nothing. You were known for your defensive presence on the court (Roundfield
was an NBA All-Defensive Team selection on multiple occasions). What do you
think of the current defensive rules in the NBA that allows teams to play zones?

DR: It changes the dynamics of the game, but then again, the dynamics
have changed with everything. It wouldn’t have been a problem for me to play
zone, I would have been a wing guy just like I was when I played. It’s not a bad
thing, it’s a good thing – it gives a change of pace to what teams are doing. What do you think has changed the most since you stopped playing?

DR: I think the thing that is most different now is that you have guys
6’10” shooting threes (laughing). People wonder why rebounding is down, its
cause all the big men are out on the perimeter now! Seeing as how the roles have changed for some positions like you
say, do you think you’d play a different role today?

DR: Well, I’d have to learn to shoot the three-pointer – so I would need
to get my eyesight fixed. Also, I wouldn’t have to worry about defending the
post, because no one really plays down there anymore. The power forward position
has changed because you don’t have as many people posting up and the offenses
are a lot different. There is a lot more cutting through. My position now would
probably be hanging out somewhere near the three-point line, waiting for someone
to drive in and kick. You played for the Pistons for part of your career – do you buy
into the hype comparing the current Pistons’ squad to some of the great teams
(the Celtics and Lakers) from your era?

DR: This Pistons team is definitely a throwback type team. They are a
veteran team, they play great defense. And, this year, you are seeing them
show-off their offensive capabilities as well. But as far as comparing them to
some of the great teams of the late 70’s and early 80’s…there is still no
comparison. Those teams were strong across the board with no weaknesses. Even
the Bulls that won six titles, they would have struggled against those squads. What do you attribute that to?

DR: Well it’s simple. There were less teams then. There were only 20, 21
teams. There was a compaction of talent – that is, more talented players on each
team all the way down the roster. You don’t see frontlines any more like Parish,
McHale, and Bird. Today’s dominant teams just aren’t as dominant. You look at
even a team like San Antonio who won the title last year – they have some weak
spots in their lineup, especially on the offensive side. So the talent has
thinned out across 30 teams now. I’m not saying there aren’t good teams – just
not as talented across the board as the teams 20-30 years ago. You played one season in the ABA. What was that experience like?

DR: The ABA was more of a run-and-gun game. Take the Denver Nuggets.
Their game plan was to outscore you. Denver had that game plan, San Antonio had
that game plan; most teams would run-and-gun. They also used the 3-point shot as
a weapon, not just as a last resort. You had guys like Louis Dampier, Billy
Keller, who would come down and shoot a three in transition, and that was the
way the play was designed. The whole league was that way.

When we came over to the NBA, it was much different. It was walk-it-up, run
through your play, if you don’t have anything pull it back out, and
oh-by-the-way, if you have a 3-point shot, you might shoot it.

When we merged, nobody thought the ABA guys could play, but they found out soon
enough that we could.

A lot of people used to say the ABA guys didn’t play any defense. Well, we
played defense, but when you take a shot within 12 seconds, you only have to
guard somebody for 12 seconds. It was just a different style of play. Teams shot
the ball faster, so there were more attempts, and therefore higher scores. Which players in today’s game remind you of yourself?

DR: Well, I’d like to say Amare Stoudamire, but I wasn’t that good
(laughing). I’d probably say someone like Ben Wallace. What do you think of the Hawks so far this season?

DR: They are showing improvement. They need to keep showing improvement
of course, but you have to remember, they brought in Joe Johnson, drafted Marvin
Williams, and added a couple more guys. You have to incorporate all those guys
into what you are trying to do, and remember – this is the youngest team in the
league. So you are constantly having to teach them.

From watching them, I think their biggest thing is they haven’t quite figured
out how to win a game at the end. I attribute that to their youth. It takes
years of experience to learn what to do, night in and night out, to win those
close games. They are getting better at it, and I think when all five guys
figure out, “Oh, this is what we need to do” at the end of the games, they will
start winning more of them. You recently did some traveling abroad. What were those
experiences like?

DR: I went on two trips in the last year. One was to Kuwait, to visit the
troops on a USO trip, and I just got back from Korea, doing a basketball camp
for the soldiers’ kids. The two trips were at complete extremes.

When I went to Kuwait it was about 130 degrees, which I didn’t mind - I like hot
weather. I was probably the only one who wasn’t sweating (laughs). We got the
chance to go to six bases and meet a lot of great folks.

When I went to Korea, two of the six days I was there the temperature didn’t get
above two degrees. When I went there, I was by myself, and I put on a clinic for
kids aged 4-14. I got a chance to spend four days with some young people and
meet their parents; it was great. We got to talk about a lot of stuff; what’s
going on the world, the war, it was very interesting.

Roundfield currently resides in Atlanta with his with Bernie and has two
sons, Corey and Christopher, both of whom he is proud to say are college

Micah Hart is the Assistant Web Editor for the Atlanta Hawks