At the conclusion of every NBA season, the media carnival comes to town, but this county fair has only one ride, the “coaching carousel”.
In the next few weeks, you’ll see Larry Brown, a Van Gundy, and some other guys’ names spinning around, waiting to get scooped up by a team. What you’ll see often however, are teams that sign their “native sons” to coaching commitments (see: Magic and the Lakers, Rudy T and the Rockets, Frank Johnson and the Suns) and the newest example of this is T-NBC’s own Reggie Theus.
Everyone growing up in the 90’s remembers the neon colored, Saturday morning seizure known as T-NBC, with one of my favorite shows being “Hang Time”, which starred our honoree Reggie Theus as coach of a ragtag team of high school ballers (the girl had the most skills on that team, and they changed characters like dirty draws). But before the acting and coaching gigs came about, Reggie was kinda raw on the basketball court.
Coming out of the Westside (Inglewoooood!), Reggie started his stellar career hooping it up at Inglewood High (Paul Pierce’s alma mater). After his prep days, Reggie committed to play for Jerry Tarkanian’s Runnin’ Rebels at UNLV, giving the program its first real exposure and run to the Final Four (with Theus getting All-American honors).
After the college, it’s the afterparty, known as the NBA, and the Bulls invited Reggie to party right along with them, getting scooped in 1978. But Theus was no ordinary baller, he was known in the Chi as “Rush Street Reggie”, for being “The Man” about town and having a playboy pad that would make Hugh Hef jealous. He had style, and a vicious Jheri curl that looked like it could spontaneously combust at any minute. Theus was backing up his nightclub game with his on-court game, averaging around 22pts a game, and garnering 3 All-Star appearances in the Windy City.
Sometimes when a new coach brings a new system with him, things fall apart (see: Flip Saunders/Pistons), and in Reggie’s case, wackness showed up in the name of Kevin Loughery, a coach who would later run the Heat and Bullets into the ground. K-Lock benched Reggie, which led to Theus being shipped to the Kansas City Kings. Somehow, the Bulls would recover the following spring when they drafted some kid from Carolina with crazy skills.
In Kansas City, Reggie was called on to be the leader of a team with no identity, with the Kings eventually moving to Sacramento, and in their first year in Nor-Cal, the Kings made the playoffs (and wouldn’t see them again until 1996!) with Reggie leading the team in minutes played.
After struggling in Sacramento (think powder blue jerseys with the name under the numbers), Theus went on to be a special guest star for the Hawks, Nets and expansion Magic. After retiring from the league, Reggie got his act on, as mentioned before and coached at New Mexico State, bringing them to the big dance, before getting hooked up with the King’s job. No word yet on a “Deering High School Throwback Night”.
Of course I couldn’t leave you guys without a clip, so if you want to see Theus trying to get kids at NMSU, peep the clip.