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Saturday, May 31, 2008

Memphis Tiger Assistant Rod Strickland


submitted by TheSavvy1

Ten years ago who'd a though that college players would be asked to approach former bad boy Rod Strickland,for advice. In his second year as director of student-athlete development at the University of Memphis that is exactly what they have been asked to do.

Now at the age of 41 Strickland is one man who defiantly been through it all during his NBA career. From arrests, fights with teammates to all star snubs and coming oh so close to reaching the NBA Finals. In a backwards way now a more mature Strickland is using his miscues to educate and help the young student athletes to not follow the path he followed.

Strickland's willingness to discuss any topic with the Memphis players has made him one of the most popular members of John Calipari's coaching staff.

Rod Strickland had an affect on the game that few other NYC point guards had. Mainly he was a true point guard. At 6'3", Strickland was big enough to take guards into the post, but also fast enough to blow by anyone respecting his jumper.

In 1988, David Stern called his name, and sent him on his way to his hometown New York Knicks. For any kid from the Bronx, playing for the Knicks would be a dream come true, problem is, if the guy ahead of you on the depth chart is an All-Star (Mark Jackson), you won't get any PT. After playing only 1 and a half seasons for his home team, Rod was shipped to San Antonio for Mo Cheeks.

He flourished under Larry Brown. He spent the next 2 and a half seasons in San Antonio nearly helping them reach the NBA Finals in 1991. Over his final season in S.A. the injury bug, a key turnover ending the Spurs season and reoccurring issues with coach Larry Brown, prompted Strick to opt for free-agency.

The Trail Blazers came running with their wallet open and pretty soon, Strickland was playing All-Star caliber ball, averaging 17 points and 8.5 assists per game for four seasons in Portland. But he never was invited to play in the All Star game. After another tough season beefing with Coach PJ Carlisimo; at the peak of his career, he was shipped to the Washington Bullets and would become part of a team that returned Washington to playoff contention after a 7 year-hiatus. What people don't know is that Rod lead the league in assists his first year as a Washington Wizard, averaging almost 11 dimes per game. Strickland was indeed a major talent, but you all know what comes next!

Along with pioneering the "New York" point guard role, Rod also pioneered the "JailBlazer" moniker, as he was the guy to start the trend of Portland having a prison basketball team. Rod never really got along with the caoching staff, got caught up in the area's marijuana scene and had the obligatory run-ins with local law officials. When he came to D.C., he played his ass off, but that didn't come without missing practices, showing up 20 minutes before game time and other crazy stunts. Strickland wasn't exactly the best teammate either for example Tracy Murray once sported one of the worst black eyes in the NBA since Rudy had his face broke. The Wizards tried to run Strickland alongside Mitch Richmond (from the Webber trade) in the supposed "best backcourt in the East" and the team went back to its playoff-missing ways.

After promising to be an angel in his brief stay in Minnesota, Rod got charged with smashing someone's parked car, and then peeling out, getting in trouble with law enforcement up there. His rap sheet included swinging on police officers, DUIs galore and other police blotter material. Getting up in age, Strickland tried the typical league tour (signing here and there to teams needing PG help) before finally chilling out for good in 2005 after 16 games with T-Mac and Yao, and a 3 month stint with a Lithuanian team.

Strickland, who is currently taking classes at Memphis toward completing his bachelor's degree, says his goal is to someday become a head coach. But for now, he's content counseling the Tigers.

"They knew from Day 1 that I am here for them," said Strickland, who played 17 seasons in the NBA before retiring after the 2004-05 season. "My career's over. I enjoyed it, but I'm here for them. I've had a lot of experiences, and I try to share that with them. I will talk to them about the good, the bad, the pitfalls, whatever."

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