Franklin High School Franklin, Indiana Class of 1961
To: The Class of 1961
|From: John Goldsmith||November
Regarding Jon McGlocklin
NBA teamates share local ties
By RICK MORWICK, Sports editor, March 10, 2007
Jon McGlocklin has a vague recollection of the first time he played ball against Tom and Dick Van Arsdale, who grew up in Greenwood, not far from his Franklin home. Interestingly, the game wasn't basketball. It was baseball, when all three future NBA All-Stars were in junior high.
McGlocklin played for the Franklin Boys Club. The Van Arsdales, identical twin brothers, played for a Greenwood team. The three knew of each other but had never met.
"The only time we played against each other, I think, was about seventh grade," McGlocklin recalled of his first brush with his future Indiana University teammates. "We played one baseball game against each other out at Greenwood Park. "That was the only time we played against each other, in any sport, until the summer before we went to Indiana."
Tom Van Arsdale, speaking by cell phone from Phoenix, remembered that long-ago youth game, but with a twist. "It was a boys club game. (McGlocklin) was playing third base," Tom said. "We didn't like him, and he didn't like us." After a pause for effect, Tom followed the comment with a hearty laugh. Because he knows, as McGlocklin knows, that nothing could be further from the truth.
Although the former Johnson County residents wouldn't meet again until they were freshmen at IU, they were never antagonists. They have been, since Day 1 of college, the closest of friends whose relationship is far more brotherly than friendly. McGlocklin and the Van Arsdales entered IU together, roomed together, started together and eventually entered the NBA together at a time when the league consisted of only nine teams. All three would become All-Stars. Two would become the first players ever signed by their respective franchises. And one would win an NBA championship and have his jersey retired. The fact that all three grew up in the same rural Indiana county and played in the NBA at a time when the league had little more than 100 players is a distinction not lost on the nearly lifelong friends.
"It was really something for us to be there together," said Dick Van Arsdale, who still earns a living in the NBA as executive vice president of the Phoenix Suns. "We're just good friends."
They've remained that way for more than 40 years and have special memories of distinguished NBA careers that frequently crossed paths throughout their playing days. Road to friendship All three men were high school stars. McGlocklin played at Franklin High School, where he scored 1,208 points in his career and powered the Grizzly Cubs to a No. 15 ranking his senior year. The Van Arsdales, meanwhile, lived in Greenwood but paid tuition to attend Manual in Indianapolis, where their parents, Raymond and Hilda, both worked. The siblings shared Mr. Basketball honors after leading the Redskins to a runner-up finish in the 1961 IHSAA state championship game. By virtue of outstanding high school careers, all three players were offered, and accepted, basketball scholarships at IU. It was there that they first stepped on the court together. They became immediate friends and forged an unbreakable bond that, ironically, would be a source of discomfort throughout their pro careers.
"That was the first time that we spent a lot of time together and became friends," said McGlocklin, who is winding down his 31st season as a television color analyst for the Milwaukee Bucks games. "And it was just like, boom, it was immediate. They're my best friends today."
The friendship would become synergy on the court. By their senior year in 1965, McGlocklin and the Van Arsdales were among the best players in the Big Ten. The Hoosiers were ranked in the top 20 but failed to reach the NCAA Tournament following an overtime loss to Michigan in the game that decided the conference championship. In those days, only conference champions received bids in what was a considerably smaller NCAA Tournament field.
"The three of us, to this day, we're not thrilled with the way our college careers turned out," Tom said. "We didn't go to the NCAA Tournament. "(College) was a great experience; we loved it. But we all had much more success in the pros than we did at Indiana."
By their senior years, the Van Arsdales were All-Americans. McGlocklin, who led the Hoosiers in field-goal percentage his junior and senior seasons, was one of the nation's top shooters. Yet the NBA wasn't an ambition. At least, not until all three were drafted. Path to the pros Tom, who was leaning toward law school, was taken in the second round by the Detroit Pistons. Dick, who was also planning for a career outside of basketball, was selected in the second round by the New York Knicks. McGlocklin, who didn't expect to be drafted, went in the third round to the Cincinnati Royals. Suddenly, a career in basketball was a real, if somewhat unexpected, possibility for all three players.
"Once we got those calls, we said, 'OK, we're going to play pro ball,'" Tom said. "Dick and I never really thought about it a lot during our college careers. Guys weren't making $10, $15, $20 million a year like they are now. Relatively speaking, it was a good job, but it wasn't anything like it is today."
McGlocklin decided to pursue the opportunity with the Royals, and Dick was enthusiastic about joining the Knicks. But Tom wasn't so sure he wanted to play in the NBA, to the point where he almost didn't. He wasn't sure he could play without his brother as a teammate.
"Dick had no question that (playing in the NBA) is what he wanted to do," said Tom, who had already been accepted into IU's law school. "I had a problem separating from Dick, because it was the first time we'd ever been separated. I had a real tough time with it."
Reluctantly, Tom participated in the Pistons' training camp, easily earned a spot on the team, then told his roommate, current New Jersey Nets president Rod Thorne, that he wasn't sure he would stick around for the season opener. "I said, 'Look, if I'm not here tomorrow morning, you'll know that I left and went back to law school,'" Tom said. "And I did. I got in my car in Detroit and drove home to Greenwood, enrolled at Indiana Law School on Thursday, classes started on Friday. ... I never went to class. "I got in the car and went back to Detroit and kept playing." He's glad he did.
Fulfilling careers Through the next 12 years, all three would enjoy exceptional careers. Tom and Dick were three-time All-Stars and averaged double-figure scoring for their careers. McGlocklin also averaged double figures for his career and was an All-Star with the Bucks in 1969, their inaugural season. Moreover, he was in the starting backcourt with Oscar Robertson on Milwaukee's 1971 NBA championship team. He shot 53 percent from the field in 14 playoff games in the run-up to the championship and had his No. 14 jersey retired in 1976, the year he retired at 32. The first player Milwaukee ever signed, McGlocklin, among other affectionate nicknames ("Johnny Mac" and "Moose"), is often referred to as "The Original" Buck in Milwaukee. He is the only Milwaukee player ever to wear the No. 14. Dick, meanwhile, has the distinction of being the first player ever signed by the Phoenix Suns. He joined the franchise in 1968 and has been with the organization since. Tom, the most traveled of the three, played his final NBA season in Phoenix in 1977, marking the first time the twins were teammates since college.
"It was great for Tom and me to travel together, which I enjoyed very much," said Dick, who also retired after the 1977 season. "We had a lot of fun with that."
What the Van Arsdales and McGlocklin didn't have fun with was competing against each other in the NBA. That's because their respective coaches often insisted they guard each other. When Tom played in Cincinnati, his coach, former Celtics great Bob Cousy, insisted he defend his brother, despite impassioned protests.
"I said, 'Coach, I don't want to guard Dick. He's my brother. I don't want to guard him. I don't have fun guarding him,'" Tom said. "Dick and I were both very clear to the coaches that we didn't want to guard each other. Some of them went along with it, and some of them said, 'Hey, you're getting paid to play this game, now you guard who I tell you to guard.' So we did whatever they told us to, but Dick and I always had this unwritten law that he wouldn't block any of my shots, and I wouldn't block any of his shots."
Similarly, McGlocklin didn't enjoy guarding the Van Arsdales, which then-Milwaukee coach Larry Costello always insisted he do. "They're my best friends. I've never had a cross word with Tom and Dick. To this day, I still haven't," he said. "And so for us to have to guard each other, we didn't like it. We didn't like it, but you did what you had to do."
An unbreakable bond Although separated by distance (the Van Arsdales live in Arizona; McGlocklin resides in Wisconsin), the three remain as close as ever. They vacation together, visit each other frequently and talk on the phone weekly. And all three, at 64, are as active ever. McGlocklin travels with the Bucks as a TV commentator and has several business interests in Milwaukee. Tom and Dick co-own a real estate firm in the Phoenix area. And Dick, who suffered a stroke in November 2005, is still a front office executive for the Suns. Dick, who undergoes speech therapy twice a week, estimated he is about 70 percent recovered and continues to improve. Although he might retire from his position in June, he plans to stay involved with the Suns in a consulting capacity.
"He's made good progress," said Tom, who has been by his brother's side often during his recovery. "As long as he can fly-fish, he's OK."
For the Van Arsdales and McGlocklin, the most rewarding byproduct of their basketball careers is an unbreakable friendship. "We're like brothers," Tom said. "(McGlocklin) knows everything about me, and I know everything about him - the good, the bad, the ugly. We love each other. It's just a tremendous friendship. "Probably of all the things that have happened through my college and pro experience, one of the greatest things was that we and Jon have become such dear friends. It's like we're joined at the hip."
The McGlocklin file Name: Jon McGlocklin Age: 63 Birth date: June 10, 1943 Hometown: Franklin Residence: Hartland, Wis. High school: Franklin College: Indiana Playing size: 6-foot-5, 205 pounds Current occupation: Has several business interests in Milwaukee and is winding down his 31st season as TV color analyst for Milwaukee Bucks broadcasts; co-founded Midwest Athletes Against Childhood Cancer charity in 1976 with former Bucks broadcaster Eddie Doucette. NBA career: Third-round draft pick of the Cincinnati Royals in 1965; played 11 NBA seasons, including eight with the Milwaukee Bucks; played two seasons with Cincinnati and one with the San Diego Rockets; nicknamed "The Original Buck," he was the first player signed by the franchise for its debut 1969-70; was an All-Star the same year; won NBA championship with Bucks in 1971; scored 9,169 points in NBA; retired in 1976 at age 32; his No. 14 jersey was retired the same year, and no other Milwaukee player has ever worn the number. Personal: Is married to Pam McGlocklin; couple have a son, Shannon, and a daughter, Meghan
The Tom Van Arsdale file Name: Tom Van Arsdale Age: 64 Birth date: Feb. 22, 1943 Hometown: Greenwood Residence: Paradise City, Ariz.. High school: Indianapolis Manual College: Indiana Playing size: 6-foot-5, 202 pounds Current occupation: Co-owns Van Arsdale Properties real estate firm in Phoenix area with his identical twin brother, Dick Van Arsdale NBA career: Second-round draft pick of the Detroit Pistons in 1965; played 12 NBA seasons, including stints with Detroit, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Kansas City-Omaha, Atlanta and Phoenix; was a three-time All-Star; scored 14,232 career points; has dubious distinction of being highest-scoring player in NBA history to never appear in a playoff game; retired in 1977 at age 33. Personal: Is married to Kathy Van Arsdale; couple have two daughters, Kerrie and Amy, and a son, Chris
The Dick Van Arsdale file Name: Dick Van Arsdale Age: 64 Birth date: Feb. 22, 1943 Hometown: Greenwood Residence: Phoenix High school: Indianapolis Manual College: Indiana Playing size: 6-foot-5, 210 pounds Current occupation: Senior executive vice president of Phoenix Suns; co-owns Van Arsdale Properties real estate firm in Phoenix area with identical twin brother, Tom Van Arsdale NBA career: Second-round draft pick of New York Knicks in 1965; played 12 NBA seasons, including three with the Knicks and the remainder with the Phoenix Suns; nicknamed "The Original Sun," he was the first player signed by the franchise for its debut 1968-69 season; was a three-time All-Star; scored 15,079 career points; retired in 1977 at age 33; has been a player and/or front-office executive for the Suns since their inception; served briefly as interim head coach in 1987. Personal: Is married to Barbara Van Arsdale; couple have a daughter, Jill, and a son, Jason -- JLG