July 17, 2012 in Professional
Former Detroit Northern star Derrick Coleman was featured recently by SLAM Magazine writer Alan Paul. Coleman was on hand for the last game the Nets franchise played in New Jersey last season (they are moving to Brooklyn), where Paul talked to him about his career. I thought this passage was really interesting:
SLAM: You were ahead of your time as a big man who liked to play on the perimeter. How did you develop that?
DC: It’s a Detroit thing—guys who do everything at any height. My coach never tagged me with a position, and I thank him for that. It was just about playing fundamental basketball, which all of us coming out of Detroit shared. The one who never got his due was Roy Tarpley, a 20-10 big man who could flat out ball. Tarpley had his other problems [he was banned from the NBA in 1991 for violating the League’s drug policies.—Ed.], but he was the first guy that I saw rebounding, pushing it, passing, shooting. He and Magic set the mold.
The other thing we had in Detroit was great interaction between high school, college and pro players. Will Robinson was a scout for the Pistons and he coached my high school coach in high school. He’d come get me when I was 15 and take me to play against guys like Isiah Thomas, Bill Laimbeer, Kelly Tripucka, Kent Benson. Then I’d I see them again at St. Cecilia’s, under the eye of my mentor, Dott Wilson, a great man who recently passed. The pros came home in the summer and gave high school and college kids a chance to play against them. You don’t see that anymore.
Those Nets teams early in Coleman’s career were really fun to watch. Unfortunately, injuries, the tragic death of Drazen Petrovic and other factors caused that team to never live up to its full potential.