The NBA fought economic problems, image issues and a substance abuse epidemic throughout the late 1970s and early 1980s. Skilled players like Micheal Ray Richardson, Lewis Lloyd, Mitchell Wiggins and Duane Washington were all barred for their rampant cocaine use and the association as a whole was on the brink of collapse. David Stern, who succeeded Larry O’Brien as commissioner in 1984, ascended to power at the optimal time. Stern entered the equation when Larry Bird’s Boston Celtics and Magic Johnson’s Los Angeles Lakers were in the midst of a riveting rivalry that created unparalleled interest in professional basketball. As Bird and Johnson aged and their rivalry neared a close, bona fide legends and budding talents ushered Stern’s association into the next decade.
Thus, mainly due to the greatness of Michael Jordan, the NBA prospered throughout the '90s. Somewhat astoundingly, it’s been nearly two decades since Jordan guided the Chicago Bulls to its sixth championship in June 1998. Jordan and the rest of the association’s standouts from the ’90s have all retired from competing on the hardwood. However, unlike His Airness, many stellar players from that era shelved their high-top sneakers and removed themselves from the limelight. With that noted, let’s revisit 15 potentially forgotten NBA stars from the 1990s and see where they are today.
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15 John Starks
John Starks is a New York Knicks icon. An unrepentant troublemaker throughout college, the 6-foot-5, 180-pound Starks went undrafted in 1988. Following brief stints with the Cedar Rapids Silver Bullets and Memphis Rockers, Starks secured employment with the Knicks in September 1990. Starks made the 1994 All-Star team and earned the 1997 NBA Sixth Man of the Year award as a Knick. More important than individual accolades, Starks was an invaluable piece of the Knicks’ perennial playoff squads throughout the 1990s. Still, Starks will be forever revered for his electric dunk against the Chicago Bulls in Game 2 of the 1993 Eastern Conference Finals.
The 52-year-old Starks retired as a member of the Utah Jazz in September 2002 and he’s worked as an alumni relations and fan development advisor for the Knicks since 2006.
14 Robert Parish
Center Robert Parish is one of the most accomplished, and beloved, players in Boston Celtics history. The 7-foot, 230-pound Parish, a nine-time All-Star and member of the NBA's 50th Anniversary All-Time Team, helped power Boston to three championships. Many onlookers contend that the 1985-1986 Celtics are the association's all-time greatest unit. That squad, which went 67-15, was led by Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Parish. Bill Walton recalled being a part of the Celtics’ juggernaut and stated that Parish was its “anchor.”
"Robert Parish was the anchor, he was the pillar,” said Walton, 65, the NBA MVP in 1978. “Without him Larry and Kevin couldn't do their thing because Chief did all the dirty work inside.”
The 64-year-old Parish, who shelved his high-top sneakers after collecting a fourth ring with the Chicago Bulls in June 1997, remains with the Celtics “in several capacities, including marketing, sponsorship and community relations,” according to NBA.com.
13 Tom Chambers
Tom Chambers, a four-time All-Star and two-time member of the All-NBA second team, was a truly brilliant Sun. The San Diego Clippers selected the 6-foot-10, 230-pound Chambers out of the University of Utah eighth overall in 1981. After stints with the Clippers and Seattle SuperSonics, Chambers signed to play for the Phoenix Suns in July 1988. The 1987 NBA All-Star Game MVP began working with the Suns' front office as a community relations representative following his retirement in 1998. Chambers was arrested in December 2013 on charges of driving while intoxicated in Scottsdale, Arizona.
"I take my role as a representative with the Suns very seriously and have always held myself to a high standard,” Chambers said in a statement. “I want to apologize to the Phoenix Suns and its fans for the negative attention this incident has brought upon the organization."
Despite his lapse in judgment, Chambers remains employed with the Suns in the same capacity.
12 Bernard King
Bernard King was an unstoppable scorer for the majority of his 14 seasons in the association. The 6-foot-7, 205-pound King, a four-time All-Star and two-time member of the All-NBA first team, averaged 22.5 points over 874 games. Unfortunately for the New York Knicks, King suffered a catastrophic knee injury in March 1985 and struggled to regain his explosiveness. Following 16 months of strenuous rehabilitation, the native New Yorker resurfaced with the Washington Bullets. Tom Gugliotta, who was born and raised in Huntington Station, New York, was ecstatic to team with King in D.C. when he was a Bullets rookie in 1992.
"There was Bird and Magic, but the Knicks were local and (King) was the star who could score at will," Gugliotta recalled. "We worshiped him the way the kids today worship Michael Jordan. So when he first came back, I thought it could be a real good thing."
King shocked cynics, proved to be an extremely dangerous Bullet, and was selected to the All-NBA Third Team in 1991. The Hall of Famer retired as a New Jersey Net in July 1993. King has since worked as a part-time broadcaster for NBA TV for more than a decade.
11 Derrick Coleman
Derrick Coleman was an obnoxious troublemaker when he entered the association in 1990. Conversely, when he genuinely exerted himself, the 6-foot-10, 230-pound Coleman was also one of the association’s elite power forwards. Coleman, selected by the New Jersey Nets first overall out of Syracuse University, claimed NBA Rookie of the Year honors in 1991. The decorated Orangeman made two All-NBA third teams before he retired with his hometown Detroit Pistons in July 2005. Nowadays, Coleman has matured and he is an entrepreneur and philanthropist who helps people across the Greater Detroit Area. Coleman selflessly provided countless cases of bottled water to residents of Flint, Michigan, during the city’s water crisis in July 2017.
"It's amazing that people always ask us, 'Why do we do that?'" the 50-year-old Coleman said. "And I always tell them that when I look at the people in Flint, I see myself and that's what it's about. It's about helping and caring for others that can't do for themselves."
10 Vin Baker
The Milwaukee Bucks chose power forward Vin Baker out of the University of Hartford in Connecticut with the eighth pick in 1993. The 6-foot-11, 230-pound Baker flourished from the outset and was named to the NBA All-Rookie first team in 1994. Baker, a four-time All-Star, competed for six franchises before retiring after the 2006 campaign. Baker battled alcoholism and financial troubles off the court and reportedly lost more than $100 million. A humbled and determined Baker was hired to manage a North Kingstown, Rhode Island-based Starbucks in December 2015, though he's now working for Fox Sports Wisconsin, calling games for the Bucks.
“I love North Kingstown. It reminds me of my hometown, so it’s comfortable,” said Baker, 46, as he explained his work at Starbucks.
“I was an alcoholic, I lost a fortune. I had a great talent and lost it. Thankfully, in this company, there are opportunities for everyone. I have an excellent situation here at Starbucks and the people are wonderful.”
9 Mark Price
Mark Price is a vastly underrated point guard. The 6-foot, 170-pound Price, a four-time All-Star and member of the 1993 All-NBA first team, was a three-point specialist and the unquestioned leader of a loaded Cleveland Cavaliers squad. Following 10 seasons in Cleveland, Price briefly played for the Washington Bullets, Golden State Warriors and Orlando Magic before retiring in July 1998. Immediately thereafter, Price began his coaching career as an assistant at Duluth High School in Atlanta. Roughly 19 years later, in December 2017, officials at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte relieved Price of his coaching duties.
“I’m still stunned, to be honest,” Price told the Observer.
“I was called in (Thursday) morning and was told they were going to make a change. They said they didn’t like the direction of the program was taking and that I might have lost some of my players, which I don’t agree with. But we didn’t get quite as many wins as people wanted. That’s the reality of the business.”
The 53-year-old Price is actively seeking new employment.
8 Glen Rice
Glen Rice matured into one of the association’s elite small forwards in the late 1990s. The 6-foot-8, 230-pound Rice, drafted by the Miami Heat out of the University of Michigan fourth-overall in 1989, was a three-time All-Star who won the game’s MVP in 1997. Rice was traded from the Charlotte Hornets to the Los Angeles Lakers in 1999. Although he was part of a controversial move that forced Eddie Jones’ departure, Rice helped the Lakers win a championship in June 2000. Rice most recently promoted MMA fights for a Miami-based company called G-Force Fights. His son, Glen Jr., also played in the NBA, followed by overseas stints in the Philippines and Israel.
"They're conditioned athletes,” said Rice, 50. “Their workouts are extremely difficult. Me as being an ex-professional basketball player, we worked hard but we didn't work as hard as these guys do."
7 Detlef Schrempf
German small forward Detlef Schrempf was a superior all-around ballplayer. The 6-foot-10, 230-pound Schrempf, selected by the Dallas Mavericks out of the University of Washington with the eighth choice in 1985, competed for four franchises over 16 seasons in the association. Still, Schrempf is perhaps primarily known for his work with the Seattle SuperSonics. Schrempf, a two-time NBA Sixth Man of the Year, was a three-time All-Star who made the All-NBA third team as a SuperSonic. After retiring in August 2001, Schrempf served as an assistant coach for the Sonics from 2005 through 2007. Schrempf realized that he wasn’t passionate about coaching and decided to concentrate on benefiting children's charities across the Pacific Northwest.
“A lot of professional athletes stay in that teenage stage for a long time. That, ‘give me more’ and it’s all about you and more money and a bigger car,” said the 55-year-old Schrempf, whose charity has raised approximately $20 million.
“Just because you dribble a basketball or catch a baseball, you can influence people in a positive way. You have a huge opportunity to change people’s lives.”
6 Brad Daugherty
Brad Daugherty had all the physical tools to manhandle opponents in the paint for more than a decade. The Cleveland Cavaliers drafted the 7-foot, 245-pound Daugherty out of North Carolina with the first pick in 1986. Regrettably, Daugherty was beset by chronic back pain that led to his premature retirement at the age of 28 in July 1994. Prior to leaving the sport, Daugherty was a five-time All Star and member of the All-NBA Third tTam. Daugherty, a part owner of JTG Daugherty Racing, serves as an analyst for NBA, college basketball and NASCAR on ESPN.
“I always knew I’d be doing something racing-wise at this point in my life,” said Daugherty, 52.
“Always knew it. I was so fortunate with the Cavs, because Larry Nance came along about my third year there. He owned a couple of cars, a couple of dragsters, and that was all we did was talk racing. We used to go over to his shop, every day after practice we’d go over there, and we were either working on Larry’s race car or another friend’s race car, and we’d come to practice with busted-up fingers. Lenny Wilkens was like, ‘I don’t get it.’ But Larry, I could sit and talk to him about racing all day.”
5 Dan Majerle
Shooting guard Dan Majerle was another brilliant Sun in the 1990s. Phoenix selected the 6-foot-6, 220-pound Majerle out of Central Michigan with the 14th choice in 1988. Majerle, a three-time All-Star, was a good athlete, a deadly three-point shooter, and a lockdown defender who twice made the NBA All-Defensive second team. Most importantly, “Thunder Dan” was a vital figure on the Suns squad that advanced to the 1993 NBA Finals. Majerle is now the head coach at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix. Under Majerle’s command, the Antelolpes have become an extremely formidable program.
"Every day since I’ve gotten here I just drove these guys like they’re going to be a Top 25 program," said Majerle, 52.
"And if they didn’t like it, if they didn’t want to be a part of it, they were going to have to leave. There’s a way we do things around here every day, and that’s the way it’s going to be."
4 Kevin Willis
Although perhaps not a star, center Kevin Willis was certainly an effective ballplayer and dominant rebounder. The Atlanta Hawks chose the 7-foot, 245-pound Willis out of Michigan State University 11th overall in 1984. As a Hawk, Willis was an All-Star and a member of the All-NBA third team in 1992. He also gained notoriety for playing until the age of 44, as he only retired after the 2006-07 season, his 23rd in the NBA. Willis now owns an Atlanta-based clothing company for big and tall men.
“(Our company’s style) is very modern. It’s classic. It has a timeless feel to it. Extremely comfortable,” said Willis, 55.
“The garments are well-fitted. The fabrics are impeccable. The balance of the garment is really good, from the shoulders, to the length of the coats. The jeans are very comfortable. I offer maybe five different fits, and 24 or 25 different finishes, from washes, to raws, to different coated fabrics, to your clean 10 ounce all the way up to 12 ounce denim, both in salvage and American goods. I use four or five different actual denim mills to create this look, and it’s been fun.”
3 Terry Porter
Point guard Terry Porter directed the powerful Portland Trail Blazers teams of the late 1980s and early 1990s. Portland selected the 6-foot-3, 195-pound Porter out of Wisconsin–Stevens Point with the 24th pick in 1985. Porter, a two-time All-Star whose No. 30 jersey was retired by the Trail Blazers, played for four franchises before leaving the game following the 2002 campaign. Since April 2016, Porter has coached the University of Portland’s men's basketball program.
"I am honored that Scott Leykam and University President Fr. Mark Poorman have given me this great opportunity," the 54-year-old Porter said.
"I'm excited about working tirelessly to continue to build this program up and establish a great tradition of Portland Basketball. I have been blessed to coach at the highest level in the NBA, but college has always intrigued me because of the impact that my college coach, Dick Bennett, has had on my life. To now have the opportunity, in my hometown of Portland, to impact other young men's lives is phenomenal and to be able to do so at a prestigious academic institution means a lot."
The Portland Pilots are 8-13 and near the basement in the West Coast Conference (WCC).
2 Mitch Richmond
Shooting guard Mitch Richmond was one of the league’s most prolific scorers throughout the 1990s. The Golden State Warriors took the 6-foot-5, 215-pound Richmond out of Kansas State University with the fifth pick in 1988. Richmond, Chris Mullin and Tim Hardaway were dubbed “Run TMC” and the trio ran The Town. After three seasons as a Warrior, Richmond was sent to the Sacramento Kings in exchange for Billy Owens. Richmond was royalty in Sacramento and he made six All-Star teams as a King. Richmond, a three-time All-NBA second team selection, had his No. 2 jersey retired by the Kings. The 1989 NBA Rookie of the Year now works for Mullin at St. John's University as a special assistant coach.
“Mully and I were always coaches on the floor,” said the 52-year-old Richmond, who joined the St. John’s staff in September 2015. “So I am thrilled to join him for this new venture.”
1 Danny Manning
Chronic knee problems robbed Danny Manning of enjoying a stellar NBA career. The Los Angeles Clippers drafted the 6-foot-10, 230-pound Manning out of the University of Kansas with the first choice in 1988. Despite his injury-prone nature, Manning starred in La-la-land and made two All-Star squads. Although Manning became a journeyman, he still had a more than decent career, and captured NBA Sixth Man of the Year honors in 1998 with the Phoenix Suns. The legendary Jayhawk retired in July 2003 and almost immediately began working at his alma mater as a team manager. Manning left Lawrence and became the head coach at Wake Forest University in April 2014. Last November, Wake Forest’s athletic director, Ron Wellman, announced that he extended Manning’s contract through 2024-25.
"Danny is attracting highly-rated and quality young men to our program and he has proven his ability to develop that talent," Wellman said in a statement. "Our program will continue to improve and we will realize the lofty goals that we have for the program."
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