Former player Henry Bibby: I was with John Wooden three days before he passed away


henry-bibby-1Memphis Grizzlies assistant coach and former NBA player Henry Bibby recently spoke about his NBA career, about playing for coach John Wooden, his relationship with son Mike Bibby, NewsOk reported.

Memphis Grizzlies assistant coach Henry Bibby grew up in Franklinton, N.C., then went to UCLA, where he started on three NCAA title teams as John Wooden’s point guard. The first two of those titles were won in the seasons between legendary players Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Walton.

Bibby spent nine years in the NBA, appearing in 675 NBA games, averaging 8.6 ppg, 3.3 apg and 2.3 rpg. He averaged career high 12.2 ppg for Philadelphia during the 1978-79 season.

He started on the 76ers’ 1976-77 team, which lost to Portland in the 1977 NBA Finals and opposing point guard Lionel Hollins, who now is Memphis’ head coach. Bibby’s coaching odyssey includes stints in the WNBA, the USBL and the Continental Basketball Association, including three years each in Oklahoma City and Tulsa.

Bibby and his son, Mike, are one of only three father-son combinations to win NCAA titles as players.

“I have no problem with Mike, and he has no problem with me. Every kid growing up has hated their parent at some point in time. That’s OK, too. It’s all been a learning experience for them,” Bibby said.

“Now my kids have their own kids and they understand what I tried to do. Most important thing is family. They see that now. Sometimes you have to provide for your family, you have to take different routes to do that.”

Bibby said he doesn’t have any regrets in life, and added that he’s happy “with the the hand that he’s been dealt.”

“I’ve been very fortunate. The most important thing has been my health. My health has been good. Had a lot of opportunities to coach different people. Been around this business over forty-something years. Just keeps getting better. So I have no regrets which way my path has taken me,” he said.

Speaking about his coach John Wooden, Bibby shared some details about the legendary figure.

“In high school, my name kept coming up in scouting reports, recruiting, and all of a sudden, you’re on the radar. Coach Wooden would come to North Carolina every summer to do a basketball camp. My name kept coming up. So he stopped in one day. That was it,” Bibby recalled.

“I shot foul shots from the elbow. I don’t know, Coach Wooden told me if I was successful shooting there, I could keep shooting,” he recalls. “From Coach Wooden, I learned discipline. I learned details. I learned probably more so than anything else, to be team oriented. Being happy for the success of my teammates, other than myself. That’s what most guys don’t understand. Most guys don’t understand that you have to be happy for the success of other people.”

Bibby also noted that Wooden taught him to be happy about other people being successful.

“My thinking reflects from what Coach Wooden taught me. Be happy for the success of your teammates as well as yourself,” he said.

Noting that he has been very good friends with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bibby also said that he’s happy to be a part of a dynasty at UCLA that will never be matched.

“You go back, if you could live those years again, at 18, 19, 20 years old. You have no idea really what life is all about. If I could do that one more time, to be in the presence of Coach Wooden. I was with him three days before he passed away,” Bibby recalls.

“Just to see a legendary person, not just from basketball court, but that type of person off the court, is something I will remember until I die about UCLA and about the success.”

“I’m proud that I’ve been able to touch a lot of kids’ lives that I wouldn’t have been able to touch if I hadn’t been in basketball. I’ve done a lot of things basketball wise in the way of winning. But the winning part is being able to help some of these kids who have kind of lost their way in the process of trying to get what they want to get in life. That’s happiness.”

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