SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Ralph Sampson, a former star center, a current father, about to officially become a Hall of Famer, said Thursday he may look into a new path: coaching.
The Atlanta resident said he never previously gave serious thought to getting on a bench because he didn’t want to spend so much time away from his two sons. Now that one is out of college – Ralph Sampson III attended the University of Minnesota and played for the Bobcats in the Las Vegas summer league after going undrafted – and another is established in school, the elder Sampson is thinking the time is right.
“I haven’t pursued it regularly in the past, probably like most people have or I should,” he said. “Now that my son is going to be a junior at East Carolina, I may look at it more seriously. I wanted him to get established first. My other son is out of college. I look every year at what coaches are doing what, when and where. You think, ‘Oh, maybe that’s not the right time.’ This year may be my time.”
There does not appear to be anything on the immediate horizon with most staffs in the college and professional ranks set, but Sampson could begin with a lesser role in player development, as opposed to spending every game on the bench. Or he could become a tutor in the mold of former Rockets teammate Hakeem Olajuwon.
“I know it’s a crazy game to get into sometimes and once you get in you’ve got to wiggle your way to the top,” he said the day before being inducted into the Hall of Fame. “But if the opportunity presents, I’ll look at it and I’ll take it from there.”
Also Thursday, Mel Daniels, set to be enshrined for his ABA career, was unable to make an event here because of an undisclosed illness and may not be able to attend the induction ceremony Friday. Reggie Miller, like Daniels a former Pacers star in the Class of 2012, said Daniels was hospitalized, and Indiana president Donnie Walsh told the Indianapolis Star he did not think Daniels would be at Symphony Hall the next night.
Lidia Alexeeva, the former coach of the Soviet Union’s women’s national team elected by the International Committee, will not be in attendance. The late Don Barksdale will be represented by son Derek.