December 15, 1970 |
|Listed height||6 ft 9 in (206 cm)|
|Listed weight||230 lb (104 kg)|
|High school||Wehrle (Columbus, Ohio)|
Ohio State (1991–1994)
|NBA draft||1994 / Round: 2 / Pick: 51st overall|
|Selected by the Sacramento Kings|
|Pro playing career||1994–2005|
|Career NBA statistics|
|Points||2,031 (6.4 ppg)|
|Rebounds||1,142 (3.6 rpg)|
|Stats at Basketball-Reference.com|
Lawrence Funderburke was born and raised in Ohio, where he played high school basketball.
Funderburke was a 6–8 power forward out of Ohio who was attracted to the Kentucky Wildcats. "(Kentucky was) somewhere I always wanted to go coming out of high school. It was a dream I always wanted to fulfill." Kentucky recruited Funderburke hard, but allegations surfaced that he was being illegally enticed. Other allegations soon surfaced concerning other recruits including Shawn Kemp, Chris Mills and Eric Manuel.
In light of the violations, Funderburke decided to enroll at Indiana University. Funderburke later described the decision to go to Indiana as "a very quick and irrational one." He and Indiana coach Bob Knight soon developed a contentious relationship. After being kicked out of practice and told not to return (a common Knight intimidation tactic), Funderburke took Knight's threats seriously and decided to leave the team.
Soon after his departure Funderburke began showing up at Kentucky games and expressed interest in joining their program. However, Indiana refused to grant a release to Funderburke. Finally C.M. Newton, Kentucky's athletic director, made a public announcement that due to the image it would cast on the program, Funderburke would not be accepted onto the Kentucky team. Newton publicly forbade Kentucky's new head coach Rick Pitino from recruiting him. "It was a slap in the face" Funderburke said. "Who really cares about him? That's basically what it was. He (Newton) just didn't say it that way. But I know, definitely 100 percent, that Pitino did want me."
Funderburke transferred to St. Catherine's in Springfield, Kentucky where he never played and ended up dropping out. To the surprise of many, Funderburke actually returned to Indiana in the fall of 1990 to take enough credits to fulfill his letter of intent by completing his freshman year. Indiana initially refused to release Funderburke from his letter of intent because of the money and time invested in him, according to then athletic director Ralph Floyd. Later Indiana offered him a compromise whereby Funderburke could obtain his release and thereby enroll at the University of Missouri while Indiana held his national letter of intent to ensure that he remained at the school and did not leave immediately for Kentucky or any other school.
Even though Funderburke had now completed the requirements of his letter of intent to Indiana, Knight still refused to grant him his release so that he could receive financial aid from a new school. Knight's refusal left the NCAA in unchartered waters. According to Funderburke's lawyer Bret Bearup, "The NCAA has never dealt with a situation like this before, where a kid left a school, enrolled at a junior college, and then came back to the school he left. They've been wrestling back and forth with it."
Knight continued trying to meddle with Funderburke. In December 1990, Knight told Funderburke's advisor (former UK player and lawyer) Bret Bearup that Funderburke could only be free to play for the University of Tennessee. Funderburke had been considering Tennessee, Kansas, Louisville and Cincinnati. Knight's attempt to dictate Funderburke's future only served to anger Funderburke further. Knight then agreed to add Cincinnati and the University of Southern California to the list of acceptable schools.
Soon afterwards, Funderburke decided to rebel against Knight's wishes and attend Big-Ten rival Ohio State University. "Lawrence is so upset about Coach Knight not releasing him to Louisville, that if he had to pay his way to school, he might as well stay at home and pay in-state tuition," said Bearup. "Also, he'll get to play Bobby Knight twice a year now."
After sitting out the spring semester and the following fall, Funderburke finally suited up for Ohio State in January of 1992. ESPN commentator Dick Vitale, a close friend of Knight, accused Funderburke of "flat-out immaturity" among other things during national broadcasts against Indiana and Iowa. Later, Vitale regretted his comments. "I've never been in a situation during my 14 years at ESPN that has hurt me more. I say hurt, but I deserved to be hurt. I was wrong."
Ohio State provided a place where Lawrence had a respectable, albeit abbreviated career, where he played his three remaining years of eligibility. There, he teamed with fellow NBA star Jimmy Jackson to lead Ohio State to win the Big Ten Championship in 1992. Each of his seasons were productive, but before his senior year he had surgery on both knees to deal with tendonitis, and then went on a potato diet which ended up sapping his strength and quickness.
Funderburke was drafted by the Sacramento Kings in the 2nd round (51st overall) of the 1994 NBA Draft, honing his game in Europe (in Greece's Ambelokipi and PAOK BC and French outfit Pau-Orthez) for three years, before joining the Kings in 1997.
Funderburke averaged 9.5 points and 4.5 rebounds as a rookie and played a vital role for the Kings during their successful seasons spanning from 1999–2003 as a backup to Chris Webber. After serving mainly as a reliable backup for All-Star Chris Webber for 6 seasons, Funderburke missed the entire 2003–04 schedule, being ultimately waived in March 2004.
Lawrence Funderburke graduated as a magna cum laude in business finance from Ohio State.
While an active player in 2000, Funderburke and his wife founded the Lawrence Funderburke Youth Organization, a non-profit organization dedicated to help at-risk children, through a variety of services.
Hook Me Up, Playa! is a book by Lawrence Funderburke that warns both professional and aspiring athletes of the dark side of the limelight through interviews with close friends who are (or were) professional athletes.
- ""Almost-Cat Funderburke Anxious for Shot at UK". Lexington Herald Leader. 22 December 1993.
- "Funderburke 'Back Home in Indiana' as Buckeye". Lexington Herald Leader. 14 January 1992.
- "Almost-Cat Funderburke Anxious for Shot at UK". Lexington Herald Leader. 22 December 1993.
- "Funderburke's Future is Still Shrouded in Fog". Lexington Herald Leader. 18 December 1990.
- "Funderburke Isn't Giving IU the Credit it Deserves". Lexington Herald Leader. 21 January 1990.
- Reed, Billy (18 December 1990). "Funderburke's Future is Still Shrouded in Fog". Lexington Herald Leader.
- "Funderburke Reportedly Given OK to Play for Vols". Lexington Herald Leader. 22 December 1990.
- "Knight Reportedly Wants Funderburke to Transfer to USC". Lexington Herald Leader. 6 January 1991.
- "Funderburke May Enroll at Ohio State". Lexington Herald Leader. 8 January 1991.
- "Time for Dicky V. to Meet Detractors at Ohio State, Baby". Lexington Herald Leader. 22 December 1992.
- Hook Me Up, Playa!: Lawrence Funderburke: 9780976747109: Amazon.com: Books
- NBA.com profile
- nba.com historical playerfile
- Hoopshype.com career and profile
- Stats at BasketballReference
- Lawrence Funderburke Youth Organization
- Basketpedya.com Profile