The merry-go-round that was Mark Randall's pro basketball life
passed through nine cities, including one stop in Europe, as he
pursued his dream to find a permanent home in the NBA.
"Journeyman," Randall says, describing a career that sent him
from Chicago to Minneapolis to Detroit to Milan, Italy, to Miami
to Rapid City, S.Dak., to Denver to Rapid City to Denver to Fort
Wayne, Ind., to La Crosse, Wis., and Denver. "That's the best
description for someone in my former position. I was wandering
from team to team, trying to find my place in the NBA."
He may have finally succeeded. For the past five seasons Randall,
35, has been on the Denver Nuggets' staff, most recently as the
team's fourth assistant coach, with the primary responsibilities
of advance scouting and player development. Before being promoted
into his current position he spent nearly three years
crisscrossing the country as one of Denver's college scouts, and
amid the hunt for the next NBA superstar he would occasionally
stop at the University of Kansas, where for one shining moment in
March 1991 he was at the center of the basketball universe.
Kansas coach Roy Williams once called him the least confident
good player he had ever seen, but that season the 6'8" center
averaged 15.0 points and helped lead the Jayhawks to the national
title game. He appeared on the SI cover before the Final Four
under the headline CAN KANSAS? Alas the Jayhawks could not; Duke
defeated them in the title game despite Randall's 18 points and
10 rebounds. In June he was the first-round draft pick (No. 26)
of the defending NBA champion Chicago Bulls. "I was so elated
when [commissioner] David Stern announced my name," he says, "but
the reality of the business hit very soon."
Randall signed a one-year deal for $180,000, the minimum that
teams over the salary cap could pay a first-round pick that
season, and rarely left the Bulls' bench. On Dec. 30, 1991, two
months into his rookie season, Randall received the news he would
hear throughout his career: We're letting you go. So began his
journey. By 1997 he had grown weary of chasing his dream and
retired from basketball to join his wife Kimberly's home
medical-billing business. (The couple has two children, Samantha,
4, and Dylan, 2.) But after the NBA players were locked out by
the owners for seven months beginning in July 1998, Randall gave
it one last shot. He made the Denver roster but lasted only two
May 25, 2003
After departing the Nuggets for the third time in five years,
Randall was asked by Denver coach Dan Issel, "Are you at that
point in your career that you want to move onto something else?"
Randall said he was. "Well," said Issel, "what do you think about
getting into scouting for us?"
Randall immediately took the job and left his playing dreams
behind. --Richard Deitsch
A first-round draft pick, Randall never caught on as a player in
the NBA, but he landed a job on the Nuggets' staff.