One thing we are going to be doing here at Throwback Attack is to perform a monthly feature called “Throwing It Back With …” While that might sound like we’re sitting around a campfire getting tanked – maybe we can find a beer sponsor – the idea is to get ahold of players from the past and see what they’re up to these days.
Consider it almost like a live version of our “Random Pro of the Week.”
Our first installment of “Throwing It Back With …” is with former Lakers forward Don Ford.
Ford played seven seasons in the NBA after he was drafted in the 6th round by the Lakers out of UC Santa Barbara in 1975.
He graciously took some time to catch us up on where he’s been and what he’s doing.
So, what have you been doing since you retired?
Professionally, I have been in the real estate profession for 24 years. Currently I work for Sothebys International Realty in Santa Barbara, and I also have been the radio color analyst on UCSB basketball games for 15 years. I played for the Gauchos and I love being involved with their broadcasts.
Without looking, can you accurately name your career stats?
No. I would guess around 6-7 points and maybe 4 rebounds. My first few years in the NBA I scored more points then near the end. It took me awhile to learn that I couldn’t score at that level. (For the record, Don averaged 6.4 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 19.6 minutes over his career).
What is your best memory from your time in the NBA – on and off the court?
I loved the arenas, I loved the fans, I loved the travel, I loved the cheerleaders, I loved the camaraderie, I loved the late 70’s.
Wildest NBA off-court story you can tell without outing yourself or anyone?
On St Patrick’s Day on the road one year, a teammate was getting out of his street clothes and into his uniform, when he brought attention to his most private male part, which was dyed green. The obvious question was why? The amazing answer is … he was celebrating being with seven women that day. Did i mention it was the 70’s?
What do you miss most from your playing days?
The first of the month and the 15th of the month. Although small in comparison to today’s salaries, it was always nice to be paid for a game you loved to play.
Does it bother you at all that you might be remembered simply for being traded by the Lakers for the pick that led to James Worthy?
Not at all. The true trade was me and a first-round pick, for Butch Lee and a first-round pick. Some how through the years it has become me for a first-round pick, which became the great James Worthy. As a Laker fan growing up, as an ex-Laker and as a current Laker fan, I realize the trade was the best thing I ever did for the franchise.
Any chance you would have played in today’s NBA with your skill set? (We know you wouldn’t have been drafted as it only last 2 rounds)
I honestly feel it is easier to play pro ball today. Many more teams today, every team carries 15 or so players, you can be a true specialist as a player today not just a high scorer in college. Sometimes I watch guys on the court today and know without a doubt I would be able to play in today’s NBA. Playing hard every minute on the floor is a lost art.
When was the last time you wore shorts as short as you did in your playing days?
As a halloween costume 15 years ago, I put on my actual Laker uniform. The shorts were as short as I recalled, but a lot tighter than I remembered.
Looking back, do you wish you had a better hairdo and mustache combo?
I love the hair, but the mustache was a bit much. I’m pretty sure I had the longest hair in the NBA at the time, and it fit with my Santa Barbara lifestyle. Today, as an old guy, I’m happy to have my hair, but pleased I gave up on the mustache
What are some things you can still do on the court?
I can still sit on the bench as well as i ever did.
How often are you recognized?
In Santa Barbara, daily. In Los Angeles, often. At sporting events, people ask me if I’m Larry Bird … I always say, if I was more talented and he was better looking, we could be twins.