After winning a national championship with Kentucky in 1996, BYU head coach Mark Pope was drafted by the Indiana Pacers in the second round of the 1996 NBA Draft. Pope’s first season was spent under legendary player and rookie coach, Larry Bird.
In Game 4 of the 1998 Eastern Conference Finals, Reggie Miller hit his famous game winner over Michael Jordan to tie the series at 2-2. In a recent interview with Fox Sports, Pope said, “That’s the shot. It was such an epic series.”
Coach Pope recently recounted his experience in the locker-room before Game 7 of the that series when the Pacers traveled to Chicago to play Michael Jordan and the Bulls.
“You know I’ll never forget … Game 7 in Chicago,” Pope recalled. “We are in the locker room before the game and Coach Bird, it’s his rookie season as a coach, maybe the smartest most intuitive player to ever play the game and he’s doing his pre-game and he starts bawling… because he wanted it for us so bad.”
“I’m a rookie," Pope said, "don’t know anything, can’t play a lick, have no business in that league, and I’m sitting in the locker room before Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals playing Michael Jordan with Larry bird crying in the locker room pre-game. How good is my life!”
Pope played a total of 25 minutes during his rookie season that ended that epic night in Chicago. He played for the Indiana Pacers, New York Knicks, and Denver Nuggets over the span of eight-year professional career.
Speaking humorously of his NBA Career, Pope said, “On any list of the worst players to stick around the league for five-plus years, I’d have to be in the top 10” (AJC).
Pope continues to impress BYU fans with the signing of new players from all over the country and has the Cougars in good shape headed into the 2020-21 season.
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