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Remember VIN Baker? Where is he now?

14 Apr

Vin Baker now coaches ninth-graders.

In his best season in Milwaukee, Baker averaged 21 pts 10.3 reb and shot 50.5% from the field

Upon retirement, many NBA players stick around the game of basketball, whether as coaches, executives, announcers, or businessmen with an interest in the sport. Vin Baker, however, didn’t have an opportunity to stick around the highest levels of the game. In 2006, Baker retired after 13 seasons in the NBA, during which he made four All-Star teams and won a gold medal at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. Yet, despite these accomplishments, he left the game on bad terms due to struggles with alcoholism.

Now, Baker is turning his life around, and he’s doing it with the help of basketball. But while many ex-NBA athletes get high-profile coaching jobs, Baker is plying his trade in Connecticut as the ninth-grade boys coach at Old Saybrook High School, his alma mater. As you can see in the video below from SLAM Online, the team takes its halftime speeches in a converted storage closet with folding chairs and a decades-old television. It’s a far cry from a top-level facility.

But, if you watch this four-minute halftime speech, you’ll see that Baker is taking this job as seriously as any other coaching gig. He implores his kids to play for the team, not themselves, and he’s as passionate about it as a coach at any other level of the game.

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Whatever Happened to Baby Jordan

29 Nov

Minor won the '93 and '95 dunk contests

Harold Miner has to just laugh about some of the rumors about him floating around on the Internet.

Like the ones about Miner being in the witness protection program. Or working at a Jack in the Box in Los Angeles. Or being a member of the LAPD and becoming an ordained minister.

“Oh my goodness, it’s crazy,” said Miner, now 39.

The truth is much less sensationalistic. Miner now resides in Las Vegas with his wife, 7-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son. He currently isn’t working, and still lives off the over $20 million he made during a brief NBA career which — unlike many pro athletes — he managed and invested very diligently.

Miner says the biggest misconception about him is that he’s a recluse, but such speculation about his whereabouts has become common since he last appeared in the NBA in 1996 because he hasn’t been interviewed in over a decade.

He has rejected countless requests to speak with the fan favorite who earned the nickname “Baby Jordan” by winning two NBA Slam Dunk contests and dazzling crowds with his highlight-reel dunks. Even now, he only calls from a blocked phone number in an interview arranged through a former USC sports information director.

“I’m really kind of dumbfounded as to why people would be interested in reading a story about me,” Miner said. “I haven’t played in almost 15 years and I haven’t done anything significant on a national scale since my junior year at SC almost 20 years ago. It’s a trip, actually.”

Seeing how he hasn’t spoken publicly in so long, there’s a couple things he wants to get off his chest. Specifically, he thanked his fans for all their support over the years, gave props to fellow Inglewood legend Paul Pierce for becoming an NBA star and even apologized to writers that covered him in Miami — Ira Winderman and Shaun Powell — for not being himself there because of his disappointing stay on South Beach.

So why now is Miner finally ready to speak?

“I just think it’s time,” Miner said. “It’s been a long time.”

It certainly has. Miner became a household name almost two decades ago as a junior at USC by piling up points and dunks during the 1991-92 season. Miner had the shaved head, No. 23 jersey, MJ mannerisms and the spectacular slams that reminded many of “His Airness.” Suddenly, the “Baby Jordan” nickname he picked up on the playgrounds of Inglewood had spread across the nation and made him a star, something he always grappled with.

“I probably never got used to being in the spotlight,” Miner said. “I’d say it’s always been uncomfortable for me, not natural for me.”

Miner led USC to a No. 2 seed in the 1992 NCAA Tournament, becoming USC’s all-time leading scorer (a record he still holds) and earning Sports Illustrated’s college basketball’s Player of the Year award over LSU’s Shaquille O’Neal and Duke’s Christian Laettner. But the storybook season came to an abrupt end when Georgia Tech’s James Forrest knocked the Trojans out of the second round on a legendary buzzer-beating 3-pointer. Weeks later, Miner held an emotional press conference to announce he would be turning pro.
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