Few fans realize that along with Bill Parcells‘ exploits on the football sideline in his illustrious coaching career, the former Giants, Patriots, Jets and Cowboys coach spent some time on a basketball bench, too.
Early in Parcells’ coaching career, he served as an assistant under Bob Knight while coaching linebackers at Army. Just a few years removed from his playing days at Wichita State, Parcells kept in shape with lunchtime pickup basketball games that are common at rec centers and YMCAs even today.
The difference between Parcells’ midday runs and your own, however, was that the middle-aged warriors playing shirts and skins with you probably aren’t destined for worldwide fame.
In a wide-ranging interview with Sports Illustrated that mostly focuses on his memories in football, Parcells reveals that his regular pickup group at Army was a who’s-who of West Point products. The four-on-four squads included Norman Schwarzkopf, the later commander of Operation Desert Storm; Don DeVoe, a three-time SEC Coach of the Year at Tennessee; Dave Bliss, who made a couple of stops as a college basketball coach before resigning in disgrace from Baylor in 2003; and Arthur Ashe, the three-time Grand Slam winner and Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient.
“Pretty good,” Parcells tells SI’s Peter King.
Uh, yeah, Bill. No kidding.
Of course, in 1966, Abraham Lincoln was dead, Barack Obama was only 5 years old and Superman was (and remains) fictional. Otherwise, it’s safe to assume the three of them would have taken part in those games as well.