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Life Coach

Lucas, a former Rockets guard, is still teaching life and basketball



HOUSTON - John Lucas says he isn't worried.

The NBA season ended in June and, for the third straight year, Lucas isn't returning to an NBA sideline as a coach.

Lucas is obviously getting antsy for a return to coaching, but he's certain that he'll eventually get a phone call from a team executive looking for his services.

"I want to go back and coach in the NBA," said Lucas, the former Rockets guard and -- for now -- the ex-NBA coach. "I miss the wins and losses and I miss the sheer development of helping someone get better. I believe that I'm eventually going to get another opportunity."

He's got too much to teach.

Since wrapping up a 14-year career in the NBA, Lucas has been basketball's most recognized life coach.

He has turned around careers and saved lives.

Lucas, who has overcome his own personal drug addiction, is still running the Houston-based John Lucas Treatment and Recovery Center.

The center is a place where Lucas' staff provides treatment for drug addiction and the ex-Rocket himself brings young NBA stars to learn not to make the same mistakes he made over his playing career.

"Life is a bunch of start-overs," Lucas, 42, said. "I've had to take four. I've told the kids that life is about moments and you can turn yourself around."

Lucas is a prime example.

Since his NBA career was cut short because of drug problems, the former Rockets guard has been using his life as a way to keep young athletes on the right path.

He developed his treatment center and then became a success story by returning to the NBA as a coach. Lucas has complied a 174-258 coaching record in stints with the San Antonio Spurs, Philadelphia 76ers and Cleveland Cavaliers.

Since leaving coaching, Lucas has added another aspect to his center. He now offers private lessons to current NBA stars because he wants to improve the fundamentals of the NBA and teach them what he has learned in life.

He has come full circle.

"During my last coaching job in Cleveland, I noticed the league was getting so young," Lucas said. 'The league is only going to get younger. It takes time for these young players to develop their talent and coaches are getting fired in the meantime. I wanted to help these young players realize their potential."

Lucas has worked with the Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant, Cleveland's LeBron James and a handful of Rockets to fine-tune their games.

He has a group of 25 players who are learning life and extending their NBA careers under him.

"European basketball players have doing more fundamental work than we are and I wanted to close that gap," Lucas said. "I also use the camp to teach guys how they have to deal with the physical and mental aspects of the game."

Lucas' greatest development might have been helping his son, John Lucas III, transform into an NBA guard. After failing to stick with an NBA team as a rookie, Lucas III worked with his father and drastically improved his game over the past year.

During the NBA's summer league in Las Vegas, Lucas III was one of the quickest players on the floor and became a savvy point guard. The young guard was rewarded with a three-year contract from the Rockets.

"I told my son he wasn't ready last year," Lucas said. "He really worked on his game and reinvented himself. Now, he's with the Rockets."

Besides planning to watch his son at Toyota Center, Lucas is helping his youngest son, Jai, choose a college basketball scholarship.

He's planning to see some college campuses with his son and he'll talk hoops with several college coaches.

After that's over, he'll be waiting for an opportunity to return to coaching.

"That's what I want to do at this point in my life," Lucas said. "I feel like I can still be a real service to the league.'