Inside The League (13): A TSS Exclusive Interview With Former Milwaukee Bucks All-Star Jon McGlocklin

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Updated: October 2, 2013

How many basketball players, or people in the world even, can say that they started a foundation that has raised tens of millions of dollars for a great cause, such as battling childhood cancer? Well, I can’t tell you what that number is, but I know for sure there is at least one. His name is Jon McGlocklin, you may know him as the former All-Star shooting guard for the Milwaukee Bucks, but he is much more than that, and I learned that in this week’s edition of Inside The League.

Brian Rzeppa (BR): You were from Indiana, was there really any other choice but to go to Indiana?

Jon McGlocklin (JM): That’s a good question, especially in that era. I thought there was, I entertained some other schools. There were coaches in my house all the time. I only lived about 10 miles from Dick and Tom Van Arsdale. I considered other schools, and I thought I was going to consider them, but once we got to the tail end of it, I just knew it would be Indiana.

BR: You were drafted by the San Diego Rockets in the expansion draft after playing for the Cincinnati Royals for your first two years, were you surprised by that?

NS: Well I was, there’s a story to that. In February of my 2nd year of Cincinnati, and I was in the reserve unit. I was called to do my basic training, So I had to go. So I missed the last two months of the season, and when I left, they told me they were going to protect me in the expansion drafted. So, I called back home and my wife told me that they didn’t protect me, and that I was taken by the Rockets.

BR: You produced very well in Milwaukee, do you think that was just a result of getting more minutes?

JM: Well yes and no. I got quite a bit of playing time in San Diego, but then I tore a tendon in my foot and had to miss some games. In Milwaukee, it was my 4th year in the league, and not only did I play 40 minutes a game, but I think it was also a matter of the system that I played in and the development of my career.

BR: You made the 1969 All-Star game, what was that experience like?

JM: For me it was a great thrill. I was a good NBA player, I was a great shooter, but on the All-Star team I was with the great players, and I was never in that bracket. And to be in the locker room with Oscar Robertson and Bill Russell, it was a tremendous thrill.

BR: You won an NBA Championship in 1971, what were your emotions when you won?

JM: Well first of all when we started the season that year, we got Oscar. In training camp, we just knew that this was our year. The team knew it, the fans knew it, and even the writers knew it. It seemed that the season and the playoffs just functioned to perfection. We had no major injuries, we won 66 games, and we were just an efficient machine. It was a great feeling to have the opportunity to be an NBA Champion.

BR: What is your most memorable moment of your playing career?

JM: That has to be broken out into sections because as an NBA player, you’re going to say All-Star and NBA champion. So there’s a series of things like that as a pro player. But I think the most thrilling game with all the dynamics around it was a high school game. The final game of my senior year of high school, and it was a neutral court game, and it was sold out. We played the number 2 team in the state, and we were number 14, and it went into 3 overtimes, and at that time it was sudden death, so one basket won it. I hit a 22 footer at the top of the circle to win the game in the third overtime and got carried off the court by everyone.

BR: You played with some of the game’s all-time greats, who would you say is your most talented teammate?

JM: Well Kareem and Oscar. They are two of the top 10 players in the history.

BR: If you had to pick a starting 5 of all-time, who would it be?

JM:

PG: Oscar Robertson
SG: Jordan
SF: Magic
PF: Russell
C: Kareem

BR: What do you think of how the game is played now compared to how it was when you played?

JM: It’s very different in some regard. We didn’t have the 3-point line, which would have been tremendous for me. There were better shooters in my era. On the championship team, everyone shot over 50% on the team except for one player who shot 49.5%. We had better fundamentals.

Photo Courtesy of MACC Fund Facebook Page

Photo Courtesy of MACC Fund Facebook Page

BR: After your career, you started the Midwest Athletes Against Childhood Cancer (MACC) Fund, how did you decide to start this?

JM: When I retired in 1976 and went right into radio and television, the Bucks had a retirement night for me and retired my number. Well prior to that, the announcer of the Bucks had a two and a half year old son that got diagnosed with leukemia. So we decided that we were going to start the MACC fund on that night, and we’ve done it ever since. We have events every year, and we raised 35,000 in the first year.

BR: The MACC Fund has contributed over $45 million to childhood cancer research, did you ever expect that it would grow this big?

JM: No, but I never thought of it. I just took it one day, one week, one month, one year at a time. I just kept promoting it, and I had to hire a director to run it because it had got so big. I wouldn’t even venture to think how big it can get.

BR: Are there any special events that the MACC Fund has coming up?

JM: We just had our largest event the Trek Bike Ride, and we have people come in from all over the country. Aaron Rodgers has embraced it, and we have a number of other events.

BR:  What is something that fans don’t know about life in the NBA?

JM: I don’t think people understand that the traveling is a grind, it’s hard. Living in hotels and traveling, and not going to bed until 3 or 4 in the morning. Maybe the fact that the celebrity is not always welcomed, sometimes you just want to go unnoticed.

BR: Any advice for people looking to play basketball professionally?

JM: Well I think too many people think that they can, and I think for that to be their goal is misdirected. But if you really have that talent, you have to be seen and work really hard at your game. There’s a lack of great shooters, so if you can shoot, you’ll be found. Be realistic with your abilities.

There’s not many better people in this world than Jon McGlocklin. What he has done to promote childhood cancer research is just unbelievable, and not enough can be said about it. If you’d like to learn more about the MACC Fund, just head over to their website. Here’s to Jon McGlocklin; an All-Star on and off the court.

This is the thirteenth part of my weekly series, so stay tuned for more interviews from players, coaches, and general managers!

Thanks for reading.

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