Where Are They Now: Robert Pack
Former Nuggets helping develop young players as assistant in Oklahoma City
Before he made the jump from USC to the NBA, Robert Pack represented KJLH.
Those were the call letters of the FM radio station that sponsored a team of undrafted free agents at the 2001 Los Angeles Pro-Am Summer League.
Playing with a chip on his shoulder and the typical burst of speed in his step, Pack was named the league MVP and earned an invitation to training camp with the Portland Trail Blazers.
“I never gave up on myself,” Pack said. “I believed I could play in the league and just hoped for an opportunity.”
Pack’s belief and determination would serve him well when he was traded to the Denver Nuggets after his rookie season in Portland. He was a key part of the Nuggets team that upset the top-seeded Seattle SuperSonics in the first round of the 1994 NBA playoffs.
Coming off the bench for Denver, Pack averaged 15.7 points and 2.0 steals in the final three games of the best-of-5 series as the Nuggets stunned Seattle by coming back from a 2-0 deficit.
“We really were a young group trying to find ourselves,” Pack said in a recent telephone interview. “We played hard, played together and rooted for each other. It was just a special time for a young group that really believed in themselves.”
After making six 3-pointers all season, Pack found his shooting touch against Seattle, hitting 6-of-10 from long range in Games 3, 4 and 5.
“I always worked on it. Whether I made them or not, I put time in,” he said. “I can really remember those shots from that series. It’s something I had worked on and it came through at the right time. The work I put in, it wasn’t luck.”
Pack would go on to play one more season with the Nuggets before being traded to Washington in 1995. In his 13 NBA seasons, he would change teams nine times – five via trade and four as a free agent.
“My goal had always been to play in the NBA. It wasn’t to play on certain teams my whole career,” he said. “It was to play in the NBA and play the game I love. Every time I was traded, I realized it’s a new city but I’m playing the same game. I just focused on continuing to respect the game that I loved.”
Pack is now passing that wisdom to the next generation of players as an assistant coach with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
He joined the Thunder after three seasons as an assistant with the Los Angeles Clippers and one season with New Orleans. Pack began his coaching career as an assistant with the Rio Grande Vipers of the NBA Development League.
“Getting my start in the developmental league was good for me,” he said. “It gave me a chance to talk to these guys about what it really takes to make it and stay in the league and have that longevity.”
As a coach, it looks like Pack is here to stay – albeit now with one of Denver’s Northwest Division rival in Oklahoma City. His fond memories of the Nuggets and the Mile High City will be put aside four times a year.
“I’m a competitor,” Pack said. “Once the ball it tossed up, I’m trying to get a win for my team just like I did when I was wearing ‘Nuggets’ across my chest.”