Earlier this year I talked with former Milwaukee Bucks guard, 1969 NBA All-Star and 1971 NBA champion, Jon McGlocklin.
Beginnings in the NBA
You were drafted with the 24th pick in the 1965 Draft, after players like Rick Barry, Gail Goodrich, Bill Bradley, or late Jerry Sloan. How does it feel to be in such company and how do you recall facing up these Hall of Famers on a daily basis?
I think the 1965 NBA draft was one of the top 5 best drafts in NBA history. If you look at all the All Stars, Hall of Famers and Championship players. I enjoyed playing against them and I believed I was every bit as good a player as they were and even if I was not you must believe you are, I was a great shooter thanks to God and on that level, I could compete with anyone. I had to continue to improve the rest of my game.
From the very first game in the NBA, you had a chance to play with Oscar Robertson. What do you think about the comparisons between him and Russell Westbrook? Are they really that similar?
I actually grew up 20 miles from where Oscar grew up in central Indiana. He is 5 years older than me, but I was aware of him when he was a sophomore in HS. He was already a legend my brother actually played against Oscar their senior year in HS I still remember the game I was in the 8th grade. Westbrook is a great athlete/player. However, he went after the triple-double every game, and Oscar just did it without trying to do so. Oscar once told me if he had known how important the triple-double accomplishment would be, he would have done it for his entire career. Oscar never brags or talks about himself, so when he told me this, I would take it to the bank for truth. Westbrook is no Oscar.
Series of trades
In two consecutive years you switched teams because of the expansion draft. How disturbing was it for you to not have much time to adapt to a particular team?
I was blessed to go in each expansion draft because they gave me a chance to be better and more valuable to that team. Actually, I was in basic training in the Army Reserve when my wife read in the paper that I had been expanded from the Royals to San Diego. I then asked the SD Rockets to put me in expansion and I hoped for the Milwaukee Bucks from there I became an NBA All-Star and World Champion.
In 1969 you made it to the All-Star Game. How do you recall being able to play with (and against) the elite of the elite, like Wilt Chamberlain or Bill Russell?
I always revered Wilt, Russell, Oscar, West, Baylor and so on, but I also believed I could compete with them. My locker at the All-Star game locker room was next to Russell who I greatly respect.
What was your reaction when you got the news that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar will join your team?
I immediately believed that we, the Bucks, were on our way to an NBA Championship. But we needed Oscar.
1971 and 1974 NBA Finals
At which point during the 1970-71 season did you realize that you can reach the NBA Finals?
We the players knew we would win the title while we were in training camp in September. We just knew once we got Oscar with Kareem.
During the 1971 playoffs you lost only two games and defeated the Warriors by 50 points in closing game. What in your opinion made this team that strong?
We were just that good in every category. I think if you look at the team stats, it will show our team strength. Our offense and defense was outstanding, we had shooters, defenders, rebounders and we played as a fine toned unit. We had role players and two of the greatest players of all-time.
Then you swept the Bullets in the Finals. Can you talk about the emotions connected with the last whistle of the game and the feeling of being the best team in the world?
The emotion was rather slow in coming because we saw it coming for so long. We blew through each playoff series and knew we had it however the tension waiting for the next game was awful
Bucks came back to the Finals in 1974, you tied the series in Game 6 and had Game 7 on your own court. What in your opinion did not work out? Was it only because of double-teams against Kareem?
It was not because of any game strategy by the Celtics, we just ran out of gas and they were outstanding. Something that has not been covered well is the fact that Oscar had a pulled groin that extended into his stomach. I had a torn calf and could barely walk much less run or jump, and Lucius Allen was out with a torn cartilage. We keep it from the media and more importantly the Celtics.
After you retired, you joined the broadcasting crew. How does it feel to be around the Milwaukee Bucks in different roles for so many years?
I am so proud and fortunate to have been with the Bucks organization for 52 years through three ownership groups it has been a blessing.
In 1976 Bucks retired your jersey. Is it as important for you as winning the NBA championship?
I am not sure my number would have been retired without the Championship, so that is the biggest.
You had a chance to see many legends of the game. What do you think makes Giannis Antetokounmpo so special?
Giannis is great because he has a great work ethic, a great basketball body, and the desire to be great.