Posted by: Matt Sanchez on April 21st, 2011The author's views are entirely his or her own and may not reflect the views of the Utah Jazz.
Steve Alford was a basketball God.
The son of a coach, he spent his childhood shooting jumpers in an empty gym, often in the middle of the night.
He starred at New Castle Chrysler High School averaging 37.7 points per game his senior season. He received many accolades and was named Mr. Basketball in Indiana. An award that has gone to: Oscar Robertson, Glenn Robinson, Greg Oden and Eric Gordon, among others.
In a state where basketball lore is told as bedtime stories, Alford was the prize of Indiana.
He stayed home and played ball for Bob Knight at Indiana University. As a freshman he helped the Hoosiers beat North Carolina (and Michael Jordan) in the ‘84 NCAA Tournament.
Again Alford racked up the honors. He was Big-Ten player of the year and named to the All-America First Team his junior and senior seasons.
If that wasn’t enough he led Indiana to the NCAA Championship in 1987 when the Hoosiers knocked off Syracuse 74-73. Alford finished the title game with 23 points, hitting 7-10 from the 3-point line.
As a 4 year star at Indiana he left as the school’s all-time leading scorer and held career averages of: 20 points, 3 assists and 3 rebounds. He shot a blistering 90% from the free throw line and 53% from 3-point range.
He was part of the Gold Medal winning 1984 Olympic Basketball team along with Michael Jordan, Patrick Ewing, Chris Mullin and Sam Perkins. He recalled a story that Jordan said he would never last all four years playing under Bob Knight.
At 6′ 2″ he was the kind of player that always had to beat the odds. He wasn’t the biggest. He wasn’t the fastest. But he proved the doubters wrong.
The Indiana Pacers had the 11th pick in the draft and needed someone to work hard, shoot the ball well and stretch the floor. Somone that would sell tickets and jerseys, get fans excited about the future and be the face of the franchise. They needed a player to take the team to the next level.
Naturally, who did the fans want?
Fans were adamant about the Pacers keeping the Alford in Indiana. It seemed like a natural fit. The Pacers needed a face and the fans wanted their hometown guy.
1987 NBA Draft
Former Pacers GM Donnie Walsh had pressure from everywhere about taking Alford. He did decide to go with a shooter, but it wasn’t the Hoosier.
The Pacers selected…Reggie Miller from UCLA.
Fans booed the picked and couldn’t believe the team passed on what seemed to be a no-brainer.
Miller went on to have a hall-of-fame caliber career, spending all 18 of his seasons in Indiana, and leading to the team to the Eastern Conference Finals six times.
Alford ending up playing four seasons in the NBA, starting in three games. He has since become a successful college coach and is currently the head man at the University of New Mexico.
Will a little history be repeating 24 years later?
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