Christian Laettner

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Christian Laettner
Christian Laettner at Yahoo event.jpg
Laettner in 2014
No. 32, 44
Power forward / Center
Personal information
Born (1969-08-17) August 17, 1969 (age 44)
Angola, New York
Nationality American
Listed height 6 ft 11 in (211 cm)
Listed weight 235 lb (107 kg)
Career information
High school Nichols School (Buffalo, New York)
College Duke (1988–1992)
NBA draft 1992 / Round: 1 / Pick: 3rd overall
Selected by the Minnesota Timberwolves
Pro playing career 1992–2012
Career history
19921996 Minnesota Timberwolves
1996–1999 Atlanta Hawks
1999–2000 Detroit Pistons
2000–2001 Dallas Mavericks
2001–2004 Washington Wizards
2004–2005 Miami Heat
2011–2012 Jacksonville Giants (ABA)
Career highlights and awards
Career NBA statistics
Points 11,121 (12.8 ppg)
Rebounds 5,806 (6.7 rpg)
Assists 2,224 (2.6 apg)
Stats at Basketball-Reference.com
College Basketball Hall of Fame
Inducted in 2010

Christian Donald Laettner (/ˈltnər/, LAYT-nər; born August 17, 1969) is an American former basketball player, entrepreneur, and basketball coach. He had a distinguished college and national team career, and played in the National Basketball Association (NBA) for thirteen seasons, from 1992–2005. He was also a minority holder in the Major League Soccer (MLS) club D.C. United from 2007 until 2009. He is a current assistant coach of the Fort Wayne Mad Ants of the NBA Development League.

Laettner played college basketball for the Duke University Blue Devils, starring on the 1991 and 1992 NCAA National Championship teams.[1] He was the only college player selected for the US national team in 1992, nicknamed the "Dream Team". Sometimes considered the greatest team ever assembled in any sport, the Dream Team won the gold medal at the Barcelona Olympics.[2] Laettner was drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves in the 1992 NBA draft and went on to play 13 seasons in the NBA, including an NBA All-Star Game selection in 1997 while a member of the Atlanta Hawks.

As an individual, he was inducted into the College Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010, and as a member of the "Dream Team" he was inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame in 2009, and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010.[3]

Early life[edit]

Laettner was born in Angola, New York to a blue-collar Catholic family.[4] Although the Laettner name was German, his father George was of Polish descent. George had attended a Polish-American school, and his grandparents spoke Polish as their first language. The young Christian and his brother frequently worked as farm laborers to supplement their allowance.[4]

Laettner attended Nichols School, where he played high school basketball. Although he received a financial aid package that paid a substantial part of his tuition at the exclusive prep school, his family had to sacrifice to send him there, and he also did janitorial work at the school to defray some of the cost. According to ESPN.com columnist Gene Wojciechowski,[4]

He was, in all probability, the poorest student at the school and almost certainly the only one whose parents ordered his clothes from the Sears catalog, which was the one place they could find pants that fit his growing frame.

In his freshman year, Laettner once scored 67 points in a game.[citation needed] He set the school record for most points at Nichols by scoring over 2000 points in his career. During his career at Nichols, the school won two state titles and reached the state semifinals another time.[4]

Laettner received his first recruiting letter, from nearby St. Bonaventure University, as a freshman. The following year, he became a national recruit, sought after by virtually every major Division I program. He first narrowed his list to 11 schools, and eventually decided he preferred the brand of basketball played in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). By his senior year, he decided he would make only three official visits—to Duke, North Carolina, and Virginia.[4]

Career[edit]

College career[edit]

Laettner attended Duke University, and played for the Duke Blue Devils men's basketball team. He is one of only four players (including teammates Greg Koubek and Brian Davis) to play in four consecutive Final Fours, and the only one to ever start in all four Final Fours. He owns the record for most tournament games played (23) out of a maximum possible of 24 in four years at that time. Laettner's #32 jersey was retired in 1992, making him the sixth of thirteen players so honored by Duke.[5] He averaged 16.6 points and 7.7 rebounds per game at Duke and is the all-time three-point shooting percentage leader at Duke with 48.5%.

NCAA Tournament Records Held:

  • Most points scored: 407[6]
  • Most free throws made: 142
  • Most free throw attempts: 167
  • Most games played: 23

Laettner is especially known for his last-second, back-to-the-basket, turn-around, game-winning jump shot on March 28 in Duke's dramatic 104–103 victory over Kentucky in the East regional final, played at The Spectrum in Philadelphia, of the 1992 NCAA Tournament, acclaimed by many[7] as the "greatest college basketball game ever played." Footage of Laettner's buzzer beater shot is frequently included in televised montages depicting college basketball and the NCAA tournament; in 2003 it was used in a nationally televised commercial by Allstate. In 2009 Laettner appeared in a commercial for Vitamin Water, again replaying the shot with a Vitamin Water bottle; the ad also features Rick Pitino, who was the coach at Kentucky in 1992. In the game as a whole, Laettner made ten of ten shots from the field and ten of ten from the free throw line. His performance in the game as a whole earned him a 1993 ESPY Award for "Outstanding Performance Under Pressure," and the shot in particular received the 1993 ESPY for "College Basketball Play of the Year." Laettner also received the 1993 ESPY for "Outstanding College Basketball Performer of the Year."[8] The shot was also named the most memorable basketball shot of all-time (including the NBA, college, and high school) by The Best Damn Sports Show Period in 2007[9] and the fifth most unforgettable sports moment of all-time across all sports in 2006.[10]

Laettner's shot was clouded somewhat by an incident earlier in the game, in which Laettner intentionally stepped on the chest of Kentucky Wildcat forward Aminu Timberlake, who was lying on the floor. Laettner later said, "It was just from the emotion of the game. There was maybe too much adrenaline flowing, but it was a big mistake. It's worthy of a technical. I don't think it's worthy of getting kicked out of the game even though all the Kentucky fans will disagree with me on that. But it looks horrible. It's one of the things that I'm embarrassed about in my Duke career. There aren't many things, but that's one of them. Coach K was not happy with me about doing that. And he made a point to let me know about it a few times the following week going into the Final Four."[11]

International career[edit]

He played for the US national team in the 1990 FIBA World Championship, winning the bronze medal.[12][dead link]

In 1992 he was selected for the men's Olympic basketball team, which became known as the "Dream Team". He was the only college player selected to the roster, beating out Shaquille O'Neal for the final spot. The team went on to win the gold medal at the 1992 Olympics, and has been called the greatest sports team ever assembled.[2]

NBA[edit]

During his 13-year NBA career, Laettner was a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Atlanta Hawks, the Detroit Pistons, the Dallas Mavericks, the Washington Wizards, the Golden State Warriors (though he never played a game for them), and the Miami Heat. Though Laettner never became the superstar some expected, he was voted onto the All-Rookie First Team in 1992–93 and was an All-Star reserve in 1996–97.

Minnesota Timberwolves[edit]

Laettner was drafted third overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves after Shaquille O'Neal (1st overall) and Alonzo Mourning (2nd overall) in the 1992 NBA Draft. (All three would later play together on the 2004–05 Miami Heat.)

Laettner led the Timberwolves in rebound average per game during all three full seasons playing for them, with a 3-year total of 1923, and an average of 8.28 boards per game. He also led them in scoring average during the 1993-94-season, and placed 2nd in scoring in both 1992-93 (behind Doug West) and 1994-95 (behind Isaiah Rider). During the 1993-94 season, he also placed 2nd in assists per game (behind Micheal Williams), with a 4.4 average. He also placed second in steals per game in his first two seasons, only surpassed by Williams, who (along with Tom Gugliotta) failed to qualify during the 1994-95 season, thus securing Laettner the team lead that season. Laettner also led the Timberwolves in total blocks all three seasons, as the team average leader, Luc Longley, failed to play in as many games.

Even though he had been the team's leader for more than 3 and a half seasons, the Wolves were still struggling in the standings (during his tenure they had a paltry winning-record of 75-222).[13] During the 1995-96 season, at the league's trading deadline, the Wolves sent Christian Laettner and backup center Sean Rooks to the Atlanta Hawks for the expiring contracts of center Andrew Lang and guard Spud Webb - both players who would only last that one season with the Wolves. After the season, the Wolves would also rid themselves of their troubled star-guard Isaiah Rider, and the two trades ended up opening up more playing-time for both Kevin Garnett and Tom Gugliotta, who along with Stephon Marbury became the new faces of the franchise.

Further NBA career[edit]

The following year, Laettner made his only All-Star game appearance as a member of the Hawks. After a strong full season with the team, he then lost his place in the starting lineup to Alan Henderson. Laettner was then traded to the Pistons, but missed most of the 1998–99 season due to a torn Achilles tendon. After that, Laettner's playing time and numbers saw a decline, and he bounced on to Washington, where he was suspended five games without pay in 2003–04 after failing three drug tests.[14] The league would not identify what substance(s) Laettner tested positive for.[15]

He finally wrapped up his NBA career in 2004–05 as a reserve with the Miami Heat, where he was teamed up with college rival Shaq, and retired after the season - one year before the Heat became NBA champions.In 2008, Christian Laettner was inducted into the National Polish American Sports Hall of Fame.[16]

Laettner finished with career averages of 13.3 points per game, 6.9 rebounds, and 2.7 assists. He also shot 47.8% from the floor and 82.1% from the free throw line.

Business ventures and philanthropy[edit]

Laettner founded the community development company Blue Devil Ventures (BDV) with former Duke teammate Brian Davis and Duke alumnus Tom Niemann. In 1995, BDV began developing a community in downtown Durham, North Carolina named "West Village." BDV's website describes West Village as a "mixed-use, upscale community consisting of the adaptive-reuse of historic tobacco warehouses built between 1899 and 1926 and located in the Brightleaf District."[17]

In 2001, Laettner donated $1 million to his high school, Nichols School in Buffalo, New York to create a scholarship fund for students in financial need and to aid in the completion of a new gymnasium.[18] In 2005, Laettner and Davis donated $2 million to Duke's men's basketball program to endow an athletic scholarship and support the construction of a planned athletics center and basketball practice facility.[19] Their donation to the Duke Legacy Fund—which seeks to make the Duke basketball program financially self-sufficient—represents the largest donation by former Duke basketball players to the program since Grant Hill endowed a $1 million scholarship in 2000.

In October 2006, an investment group including Laettner and former teammate Brian Davis had agreed to purchase the 70% share of the NBA's Memphis Grizzlies from majority owner Michael Heisley. Laettner considered coming out of retirement to play with the team,[20] but the purchase fell through when Davis and Laettner could not come up with the $252 million needed to purchase Heisley's controlling share.[21] Laettner and Davis (as minority owners) were successful in their bid to purchase operating rights for Major League Soccer's D.C. United.[22][23] Laettner had previously joined Jason Kidd and other investors in the purchase of a AAA baseball team in Phoenix.[18]

In July 2011, Laettner formed a training camp called the Christian Laettner Basketball Academy.[24]

Financial difficulties[edit]

In 2012, it was reported that Laettner, Brian Davis, and another business partner owed close to $30 million to various creditors. Attorneys for one of these creditors, former Duke basketball player and later Stanford head basketball coach Johnny Dawkins, twice filed motions to find Laettner and Davis in contempt of court for failure to disclose financial records pertaining to debt collection activities. While US District Court judge Beryl A. Howell declined to find Laettner and Davis in contempt (which could have resulted in jail time), she ordered the disclosures in two separate rulings.[25][26]

ABA[edit]

In October 2011, Laettner joined the roster of the Jacksonville of the ABA, agreeing to appear in six games over the season.[27]

NBA D-League[edit]

On January 20, 2012, it was announced that Christian Laettner would join the NBA D-League Fort Wayne Mad Ants as an assistant coach. [28]

Personal life[edit]

Laettner lives in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida with his wife, two daughters and one son.[29][30]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Christian Laettner". CNN. 2005-03-31. Retrieved 2010-04-30. 
  2. ^ a b "The Original Dream Team". NBA.com. 1992-08-08. Retrieved 2011-04-07. 
  3. ^ http://www.hoophall.com/hall-of-famers/tag/1992-united-states-olympic-team
  4. ^ a b c d e Wojciechowski, Gene (January 10, 2012). "How can you be that confident?". ESPN.com. Retrieved January 11, 2012.  Excerpted from The Last Great Game: Duke vs. Kentucky and the 2.1 Seconds that Changed Basketball, Blue Rider Books (imprint of Penguin Group USA), 2012.
  5. ^ "Duke Legends". Dukeupdate.com. Retrieved 2011-04-07. 
  6. ^ "WashingtonWizards.com Mailbox: Christian Laettner". Nba.com. Retrieved 2011-04-07. 
  7. ^ "SI on Campus: 16 Greatest Games". Sportsillustrated.cnn.com. Retrieved 2011-04-07. 
  8. ^ "The 2002 ESPY Awards – ESPY Awards past winners". Espn.go.com. Retrieved 2011-04-07. 
  9. ^ The Best Damn Sports Show Period – aired March 14, 2007.
  10. ^ "FOX Sports on MSN – Television – Best Damn's Top 50 Unforgettable Sports Moments". Web.archive.org. 2009-02-04. Retrieved 2012-10-23. 
  11. ^ "Christian Laettner tries to make amends for infamous stomp". Rivals.yahoo.com. 2011-10-05. Retrieved 2012-03-17. 
  12. ^ 1990 USA Basketball[dead link]
  13. ^ http://atlantasportsteamshere.blogspot.dk/2012/09/southern-revival-ex-wolf-laettner.html
  14. ^ CBC Sports. "NBA suspends Wizards' Laettner" 15 January 2004. Accessed 06 February 2008.
  15. ^ OutSports. "Laettner suspended" 14 January 2004. Accessed 28 January 2010.
  16. ^ http://polishsportshof.com/inductees/basketball/christian-laettner-2/
  17. ^ http://www.bluedevilventures.com/westvillage.html
  18. ^ a b "Christian Laettner Bio". NBA.com. Retrieved 2011-04-07. 
  19. ^ "Laettner, Davis Give $2 Million to Legacy Fund, New Athletic Facility". Dukenews.duke.edu. 2005-07-28. Retrieved 2011-04-07. 
  20. ^ "Memphis Grizzlies, Christian Laettner, National Basketball Association - CBSSports.com". Sportsline.com. 2006-10-03. Retrieved 2011-04-07. 
  21. ^ "Owner sets May 1 deadline to take team off market". Retrieved 28 April 2007. 
  22. ^ Davis remains a team player : Grizzlies : Commercial Appeal[dead link]
  23. ^ "MacFarlane leads group in purchase of Major League Soccer's D.C. United". Archived from the original on 18 March 2007. Retrieved 28 April 2007. 
  24. ^ "www.laettnerbball.com". www.laettnerbball.com. 2012-10-01. Retrieved 2012-10-23. 
  25. ^ "Judge again denies contempt motions". The Herald Sun HeraldSun.com. 2012-03-16. Retrieved 2012-03-17. 
  26. ^ Stych, Ed; Producer, Web (2012-03-18). "Ex-Timberwolves Laettner, Davis again avoid jail time over Dawkins debt". Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal. Retrieved 2012-03-18. 
  27. ^ "Getting to Know... Christian Laettner". Jacksonvillemag.com. Retrieved 2012-10-23. 
  28. ^ Posted by J.E. Miller (2012-01-20). "Christian Laettner Joins NBA Mad Ants". Milleronsports.com. Retrieved 2012-10-23. 
  29. ^ 30 Seconds with Christian Laettner NY Times, March 29, 2009
  30. ^ Smits, Garry (2012-02-12). "Christian Laettner never lost his taste for the game". The Florida Times-Union. Retrieved 2012-06-25. 

External links[edit]