Former all-star guard Rolando Blackman, who spent 13 years with the Dallas Mavericks and the New York Knicks before retiring as a player in 1997, will be one of the hardest working men in basketball this season. Not only will he oversee the Mavericks' seven-man player development staff, but he'll also serve as a TV analyst for the team's 82 regular-season games. While he won't be rushing from pregame warmups to shower and change into a suit before the start of each broadcast, he does expect to keep a tight schedule. "Each job will make me better at the other," he says. "I can bring things from practice to the booth and vice versa."
This won't be Blackman's first foray into either field, but it will be the first time he has attempted to do both jobs in the same season. He got his start in broadcasting as a college basketball commentator for ESPN and CBS from 1997 through 2000, then moved into player development. In October '03 he was named director of the Dallas program. He and his staff of former pro players work closely with the Mavericks' coaching staff and put the players through individually tailored drills. "The players respect what my staff says, because they know we've been through the wars ourselves," says Blackman. "The biggest challenge is executing the mandates of the bench coaches."
No problem there. Blackman has always been dependable on the court. As a senior at Kansas State he hit a 17-footer with two seconds left to beat No. 2-ranked Oregon State in the second round of the 1981 NCAA tournament (cover, left), a play still referred to by Wildcats fans as the Shot.
Drafted at No. 9 later that year by the Mavericks, Blackman developed into one of the best perimeter shooters of his era. The Panama City, Panama, native helped lead Dallas to six playoff appearances in his 11 years with the club. He established franchise records of 6,487 field goals and 16,643 points that still stand. Blackman spent his final two NBA seasons with the Knicks but was hampered by a herniated disk, then he played two years in Europe before calling it quits.
Soon after returning to the U.S., Blackman reenrolled at Kansas State and completed the 12 hours he needed to get a B.S. in marketing and sociology. He had planned to explore jobs in that field, but the chance to do TV commentary was too good to pass up--as was the option to work for Dallas again. Blackman, 45, who has four children from his first marriage (Valerie, 21; Brittany, 19; Briana, 15; and Vernell, 13), married his second wife, Laura, in June.
Working in player development keeps his body in shape and his competitive juices flowing. "I can still bust a jumper in your eye," the 6'6" Blackman tells the younger players. "I have a good 10 minutes in me any day." --Farrell Evans