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Lucas had a secret weapon, his mind

Lucas led Buckeyes to 1960 NCAA title





Wednesday, November 19, 2003


NBA Hall of Famer Jerry Lucas made a special visit to chat with ESPN.com users to promote his SportsCentury profile which debuts Monday night at 8 p.m. ET.

Lucas played 11 NBA seasons for the Cincinnati Royals, San Francisco Warriors and New York Knicks. When the Knicks won the title in 1973 he became the first basketball player to perform on a championship team at every level: high school, college, Olympic and professional. In his Hall-of-Fame career, he averaged 17 points while shooting 49.9 percent from the floor, an impressive percentage considering much of his scoring came on jumpers; he resembled a shot putter with his one-handed shot.

The 6-foot-8, 230-pounder became one of the NBA's top rebounders, with his career 15.6 average trailing only Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell and Bob Pettit. Lucas and Chamberlain are the only players to average 20 points and 20 rebounds in more than one year.

The following is an edited trascript from Lucas' April 22nd chat:

Jerry Lucas
Hi, this is Jerry Lucas. I am looking forward to answering your questions. I, myself, am looking forward to the show tonight as I have not seen it either.


donnel from espn.com
What are your fondest memories of your playing career?


Jerry Lucas
The opportunity to win at every level, a high school championship, an NCAA title, an Olympic championship and a world professional championship. The reason for playing is to try to be the best as a team at your level no matter what your age or experience. And being on championship teams is by far my fondest memory.


Craig from hrfr.splitrock.net
Which championship meant the most to you? At high school, college, or professional?


Jerry Lucas
Every championship at each level has its own special rewards. The one that you did not mention probably means the most to me. Representing our country and being part of a Gold Medal winning team in the Olympics was truly a once in a lifetime opportunity for me. At that time, only amateurs could compete in the Olympics and that was the only chance I had to win a Gold Medal.


john watkins from [208.35.252.130]
Jerry, you inspired many Ohio high school basketball players in the 1960's. Who were your inspirations when you were growing up in grade school?


Jerry Lucas
Honestly, I didn't have anybody I looked up to as a basketball player. I simply played because I loved the game. It wasn't as popular nor were the NBA games televised like they are today. We knew little about NBA basketball in the little town I grew up in. I'm fortunate to have been blessed with physical and mental abilities that enabled me to excel from the hard work.


Mike D. from [198.83.168.4]
Hi Jerry,
It's nice to have an opportunity to say hello to a fellow Buckeye and one of my favorite players. My question, Jerry, is will we ever see the day again when the NCAA restricts freshmen from playing until their sophomore year? To me it would keep kids in school longer and improve the college game and the pro game. Were you ever approached about leaving early to play pro when you were at OSU? Thanks and good luck!


Jerry Lucas
First of all, I'd like to very much see the rule changed so freshmen could not participate. I believe all of your comments are well founded and it would improve both the college and professional game. It's obvious that many young players coming into the NBA are not ready and another two or three years in college would not only benefit them but improve the college game as well. But I am not sure we can ever get to that point again. I am sure there would be a lot of legal activity, unfortunately.


matt from opac.csuohio.edu
How did your studies in school improve your game?


Jerry Lucas
The learning systems that I created known as the Lucas Learning System changed my life in many ways. Not only was I an excellent student and Phi Beta Kappa graduate of OSU because of those easily applied learning systems, it also enabled me to be a much better basketball player. For instance, I knew every play of every team in the NBA. When a team called out a play, I could pass it on to my teammates and we were always ready for every formation and play being run. It also enabled me to file away immense amounts of information on every player I competed against. I remember their strengths, weaknesses, likes, dislikes and everything else important in competing against them.


Rex Nabong from lib.odu.edu
How do you compare the players today to the time you played?


Jerry Lucas
There's a great deal of difference in the way the game is played today versus 20-30 years ago. Players today are much more athletic because they lift weights at an early age and that process increases their athleticism, jumping ability and so forth. But I don't think the players of today are nearly as well founded in basics as players years ago were. You don't see many of the kinds of activity that used to exist. For example, double cuts off guards from the high post, give and go's, pick and roll's, many entricies of the game seem to have fallen by the way side. I believe one of the reasons for that is the 3-point rule. Many players just hang out by the 3-point line and there are fewer fast breaks, less cutting and action than their used to be. Obviously, there is a lot more athletic ability that creates a lot of excitement for today's fans.


nbahistory from [12.42.50.52]
Something I've never quite understood -- is your prodigious memory the result of some natural cognitive gift or does it derive from the kind of techniques you have written about? In other words, would someone practicing and applying your techniques also be able to memorize large portions of the NYC phonebook?


Jerry Lucas
My abilities in the area of learning are totally self-developed and I am happy to say anybody can do the type of things I can do. What I do is based on ability to see and store pictures of tangible objects in our mind. If I say "do not see a zebra," in your mind, for instance, you have to, it's an automatic mental reaction we can't control. We learn prior to going to school by seeing and identifying tangible objects our parents point out to us. We never forget them because every time we think of them a picture of the object automatically reappears in our mind. Unfortunately, when we enter school, we are asked to learn intangible information that doesn't automatically register in our minds. When we try to recall it, we have nothing to recall. As an example, if I say "do you know what a giraffe is," everybody will say sure, I know what a giraffe is. An image appears. It's impossible to forget. But if I say, "do u know the 23 uses of a hyphen in grammar and punctuation," your first response might be, "I had no idea there were 23 uses of a hyphen." The reason you don't know them is you haven't seen them in a tangible way like a giraffe or zebra. My simple systems change the intangible and make it tangible so you can see it like a cat or dog. Then it's practically impossible to forget. If you want to know more, go to www.doctormemory.com and you will see an easy explanation of how my systems work and how they can make all learning fun and easy.


Jack from [63.85.246.193]
You played with Bob Knight at OSU. What are your recollections of his character and attitude at that time, and how do you evaluate his career as a coach?


Jerry Lucas
Yes, I was a teammate of Bobby Knight for four years at OSU. He was and continues to be a friend. As a player, he was aggressive, hard working and a solid member of our team. He had an insatiable desire to know as much about basketball as he could. We all felt he would become a great coach. And his career has proven that he is just that. Not everybody has been 100 percent happy with everything he has done, but there is no doubt that he is one of the great coaches of all time.


matt from opac.csuohio.edu
What aspect of basketball is most visually stimulating to you?


Jerry Lucas
I have never been asked that question before so it causes me to pause and reflect a moment. But I think what I really have enjoyed the most about being a fan and participant of basketball is the grace and athleticism displayed by the many great players I have played with, against and seen throughout my lifetime. It is always stimulating for me to see players who were very adept in areas where I wasn't especially. I think we always appreciate the gift of others especially in the areas where we may lack some gifting.


Bill from osuweb.net
Mr. Lucas, please talk about the influence Coach Fred Taylor had on the great Ohio State teams from your era.


Jerry Lucas
Coach Taylor had a remarkable influence on all of the young men he coached. Not only was he our coach, he was very much a father figure to all of us. I've seen him advise and help many of my teammates in situations outside of basketball that truly added and benefited their lives. I know everybody who played for Coach Taylor during my time at OSU will never forget the positive influences in and outside of the game that have helped us grow into the men we have become.


Jerry Lucas
Thank you for your interest in me as a basketball player and a person. I truly believe my greatest contributions are ahead of me. I am planning on opening a school within two years. I've been writing the curriculum that will be used in that school for over 27 years. My goal has always been to make the learning process easy and fun for teacher, student and the parents who want to help. I hope that you have the opportunity to learn more about me as a basketball player and person by viewing the special on ESPN Classic this evening at 8 p.m. ET.