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Pride of the Bronx preaches education

by Mac Claire,
November 2, 2004 - American Basketball Association (ABA) - Maywood Laguneros

Long Beach, CA - Nate Archibald was always one of the guys who really got it. The former DeWitt Clinton High School student never lost sight of the importance of education and the responsibility he had to give back to his community once he became an NBA star. Now 56 years young, Archibald is a graduate of UTEP (1970, Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education), Fordham University (Master of Science in Adult Education and Human Resource Development and a Professional Diploma in Supervision and Administration), and is currently attending California Coast University at Santa Ana in a doctoral program.

He is still practicing what he has always preached. Archibald is still involved in several youth organizations. He has heard too many people give the same answer to the question, "What do you want to do when you are older?" A standard reply is that they want to play in the NBA. Some want to even skip college to get there, thinking they could be the next Kobe Bryant or Kevin Garnett. "Kids have what I call bad focus," said the man known as "Tiny" throughout his career. "They say, 'I want to make money,' and they don't focus on education."

Archibald wants to educate and in doing so wants to hold players responsible for keeping a promise to graduate. He said it won't matter if it takes them some time to get their degree, just get it. One conversation with someone leaving college early or going to the NBA right from high school would go something like this:

Player: "Guess what? I'm going to the NBA!"
Nate: "Oh yeah? But you still have to get that degree. Remember, you signed a contract"
Player: "What contract?"
Nate: "This contract that you signed when you first got here."

Archibald would have them sign on the dotted line. "Bill Willoughby just got a degree last year," Archibald mentioned. For those who don't know, Willoughby played in the NBA right out of high school. His short career was less than spectacular.

The Career Archibald had though, was absolutely spectacular.

He started his NBA career in Cincinnati with the Royals. He moved along with the team to Kansas City where they became the Kansas City-Omaha Kings. During the '72-'73 season he became (and still is) the only person to lead the league in scoring (34 points per game) and assists (11.2). Archibald played with the Nets, Celtics, and Bucks before retiring, winning one championship in Boston. Archibald is regarded as one of the 50 Greatest Players in the history of the game.

Archibald spoke of how badly he wanted to win. "I put the team on my little shoulders. When it came to people worrying about stats, his attitude was what made him so effective. "So what? I'm trying to win games!"

Those little shoulders will carry the ABA's Long Beach Jam from the bench, now. The recently appointed coach no doubt, will again discuss with young players the importance of playing that game called life the right way. He will discuss preparation for that day when the cheers cease. He will encourage his players to broaden their horizon. Who knows? Maybe one day some of his players will be in a coaching position similar to his. "I think coaches have more to bring to the table than anyone else," he exclaimed. "You can quote me on it."

Archibald was asked why former players such as himself, Kareem, and George Gervin have not been offered head coaching positions in the NBA, and he gave a reply that is not all that shocking. He explained that the GM and head coaching positions belong to those in a fraternity. "If you hang out with them for drinks after the game, then you're in. They don't know you if you don't do that." He indicated there is not much effort outside of that to get to know people like himself or Kareem. Read into that statement what you wish. "They give those jobs to people they know. Once they get to know you..." He added, "It's nothing personal."

Archibald compared this to something he experienced at one of his youth centers. One child rolled his eyes at another, and when Archibald asked him why he did it, he said, "I don't like him." Archibald asked, "Why don't you like him?" The child looked at Archibald with a blank stare and gave some meaningless answer. "He didn't know him. All I say is get to know someone before making a judgement."

Long Beach should take advantage of this golden opportunity to get to know one of the 50 greatest to ever lace 'em up. He's personable, knowledgeable, and accessible. There's never been anyone quite like Nate Archibald.

Note: OurSports Central no longer actively covers the American Basketball Association (ABA) as a professional league due in part to its inability to publish and play a schedule and the transitory nature of many of its teams. For information on professional minor leagues, please see OSC's basketball section.

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