NIGERIA : Nigeria name John Harding Lucas as new coach for Afrobasket 2009

The Nigeria Basketball Federation, NBBF Tuesday announced Coach John Harding Lucas-II as the new head coach of it senior national men team, D’Tigers ahead the 25th FIBA Africa Championship, Libya 2009 Afrobasket holding from August 5 through 15 this year.

According to the President of the Nigeria federation, Tijjani Umar, Coach Lucas-II who had a fourteen years playing career in the American National Basketball Association league, NBA with various clubs has also coached at the top with some of the best NBA teams.

The 55-year-old 1974 FIBA World Championship bronze medallist will be assisted by head coach of the Nigeria Premier league champion, Sani Ahmed of Kano Pillars basketball club and Toronto Raptors Assistant General Manager, Masai Ujiri for a three months tenure starting from June through August.

About John Lucas-II

John Lucas, born Oct. 31, 1953 in Durham North Carolina, is a retired American professional basketball player and coach.

Lucas attended the University of Maryland (B.A. - Education 1976) where he was an all-America performer in basketball and tennis. Lucas received his M.A. in education from the University of San Francisco.

John Lucas played in the NBA for 14 years from 1976-90. Lucas started his career as the first player taken in the NBA draft by the Houston Rockets. Lucas played for Houston Rockets, 1976-78; Golden State Warriors, 1978-81; Washington Bullets, 1981-83; San Antonio Spurs, 1983-84; Houston Rockets 1984-86; Milwaukee Bucks, 1987-88; Seattle Supersonics, 1988-89 and Houston rockets, 1989-90.

Lucas played for the U.S. National Basketball team in the 1974 FIBA World Championship, winning the bronze medal. Lucas also competed in World Team Tennis from 1976-79. Lucas returned to World Team Tennis in 2005 as the head coach of the Houston Wranglers.

In 2006 Lucas served as the tennis coach for Lori McNeil while she was competing on the WTA.

In 1990 Lucas founded and became President of John Lucas Enterprises, Houston, TX, a network of drug-treatment programs aimed especially at athletes. In 1990 Lucas purchased the Miami Tropics basketball team and served as its head coach until 1992. From 1992-94 Lucas served as the head coach of the San Antonio Spurs. From 1994-96 he was the head coach, Vice president and General Manager for the Philadelphia 76ers. And from 2002-04 was the head coach for the Cleveland Cavaliers. For 3 years prior to accepting the head coaching position for the Cavaliers he was assistant coach for the Denver Nuggets.

Currently John Lucas resides in Houston, Texas. He is regarded as one of the world's best resources for basketball training and development. His camps and clinics have built a reputation for being among the best organized and professional events. Top NBA and collegiate players from across the nation travel to Houston during the off-season to participate in his workouts and training sessions.

Life's Work

John Lucas arguably could have been one of the best, if not the best point guard in the history of the NBA, but he found his playing career hampered by his dependencies on drugs and alcohol. Repeatedly suspended by the NBA between 1982 and 1986 for drug abuse, Lucas finally hit the bottom while in Houston. In 1986 as he signed a contract to play for the Milwaukee Bucks Lucas began the long painful recovery process to restore his reputation and his abilities. Even before retiring he initiated rehabilitation programs based on his own needs that involved exercise, counselling, etc.

Since those days Lucas has dedicated himself to helping other addicts to regain control of their lives. In forming John Lucas Enterprises, heading up the Miami Tropics basketball organization, serving as the head basketball coach for 3 NBA teams, and ultimately creating John Lucas Basketball Resources he has created an extensive program that supports and helps athletes, whether at-risk or others, to progress to their athletic potential, achieve sobriety and remain drug free.

Some of his former and current programs include Lucas Fitness Systems, the John Lucas Treatment and Recovery Center, the John Lucas Aftercare Program, S.T.A.N.D. (Students Taking Action Not Drugs), Basketball Congress International, Camp Right Way, the Middle School International Combine, and the Southwest Invitational Combine.

Through his own recovery, one day at a time, that has built itself up into 23 years of sobriety, John Lucas has given him, and others who have experienced similar disappointments and addictions, the chance of a lifetime - the opportunity to prove that someone with a serious drug and alcohol problem can overcome it and achieve greatness again.

As John Lucas says, "What I thought was the worst possible deal in life turned out to be the best gift I've been given. My addiction carried me past my sports life. It gave me my best trophy. It gave me John Lucas. It gave me life."

By: Olusegun Ikuesan
FIBA Afrique