Rod Strickland : biography
Rodney "Rod" Strickland (born July 11, 1966) is a retired American NBA player. Strickland played college basketball at Depaul University, where he was awarded All-American honors. He then enjoyed a long career in the NBA, playing from 1988 to 2005. He currently serves in an administrative role for the University of Kentucky basketball team under head coach John Calipari. Strickland was formerly the director of basketball operations at the University of Memphis under Calipari.
Strickland became a college star at DePaul University where he appeared in 87 games. As a junior, he was a First Team All-American after averaging 20.0 points and 7.8 assists. A 1987 and 1988 All-America pick, Strickland helped lead the Blue Demons to four-straight NCAA Tournament appearances from 1985–88, including Sweet Sixteen showings in 1986 and 1987. The four-time Blue Demon letterwinner ranks among the program's career leaders in scoring average (8th; 16.6 ppg), assists (3rd; 557) and steals (2nd; 204). He also averaged 3.4 rebounds while shooting 53.4% during his college career.
Strickland is the godfather of 2011 NBA Draft first overall pick Kyrie Irving.
He was selected in the first round of the 1988 NBA Draft by his hometown New York Knicks where he backed up point guard Mark Jackson, the 1988 NBA Rookie of the Year. He was seen as sort of an odd choice by some observers since the Knicks had Jackson. Nevertheless, Jackson and Strickland shared time that season. Strickland played in all 82 games and averaged 8.9 points and 3.9 assists in 16.8 minutes per game where he was named to the NBA All-Rookie Second Team.
Knowing that having both Jackson and Strickland play for the same position would not work, the Knicks dealt Strickland to the San Antonio Spurs for veteran Maurice Cheeks in the middle of the 1989-1990 season. Strickland flourished in San Antonio, as the Spurs went 18-6 with him in the starting lineup. He led the club in assists 26 times and averaged 12.3 points and 11.2 assists in 10 playoff games. However, Strickland was widely criticized for his play down the stretch in Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals versus the Portland Trail Blazers, in which he threw an errant no-look pass and then intentionally fouled the Trail Blazers' Clyde Drexler, costing the Spurs the game.
In the 1990-91 season Strickland lived up to his expectations as an exciting performer when he was healthy. He missed 24 games that year because of a sore ankle and a broken bone in his right hand. In the 58 games he played, Strickland averaged 13.8 points and 8.0 assists, shooting .482 from the field and .763 from the free throw line. He led the Spurs in assists 46 times and in steals 30 times. Strickland finished the year tied with Terry Porter for 12th in the NBA in assists. And in a four-game series loss to the Golden State Warriors in the first round of the 1991 NBA Playoffs, he posted terrific numbers: 18.8 points, 5.3 rebounds, 8.8 assists, and 2.25 steals in 42.0 minutes per game.
Starting the 1991-92 NBA season in a contract dispute with the Spurs management, Strickland didn't play in the first 24 games of the season. He finally signed on December 23, then started 54 of 57 games and averaged 13.8 points, 8.6 assists, 4.6 rebounds, and 2.07 steals in 36.0 minutes per game. He scored in double figures 48 times and scored 20 or more points on eight occasions. He notched a then career-high 28 points against the Indiana Pacers on February 6 and made a career-high 19 assists versus the Minnesota Timberwolves on March 3. Strickland started two playoff games against the Phoenix Suns before missing the third with a broken bone in his left hand. The Suns swept the series in three games.
Before the start of the 1992-93 season, Strickland signed as a free agent with the Portland Trail Blazers. In four seasons with the Blazers, Strickland averaged 17 ppg and 8.6 apg.
In a move that initially helped both franchises, Strickland and teammate Harvey Grant were traded to the Washington Bullets for Rasheed Wallace and Mitchell Butler in 1996. In his first season in Washington, Strickland averaged 17.2 ppg and 8.9 apg helping the Bullets make the playoffs in 1997 for the first time in 8 seasons.
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