Q+A: George Lynch
The Tar Heel and NBA vet on his playing days and how the lockout can help players after their career.
by Dan Shapiro
Four teams in 12 years. L.A., Vancouver, Philly and the Hornets. George Lynch is the kind of guy who’s been around the League, played with legends, and crunched through 82 games many times over. From ’93 to ’05, the power forward helped teams with his hustle and unselfish play.
Don’t forget that he also cut down the nets in ’93 as a Tar Heel and was inches from Chris Webber as he frantically called for the infamous timeout he didn’t have. The man was kind enough to spend some time with SLAMonline updating us on his life after hoop and sharing some of that seasoned, vet knowledge regarding the issue on everyone’s mind: the lockout.
George Lynch: That was my senior year. Chris always wanted to be a point guard. And he’d get caught during the game trying to take the ball up. Going back early in the season in Hawaii, you know, they had burned us with it—Jalen (Rose) taking the ball out and Chris bringing it up. Having a guard pass it in like that—that’s something Coach Smith would never let us do.
I kinda set up an automatic trap with Derrick Phelps—if Chris took the ball up, I’d signal it and we’d put pressure on him. So, Chris grabs the rebound and kinda travels at first, and then he went toward the sideline. We trapped and everyone else filled in the passing lanes.
After he called timeout, it happened so fast that I just started walking back towards the bench. And when I got there I saw everyone jumping up and down.
And that was it. Now, every year during the Tournament, myself, my classmates—we all get calls about it.
SLAM: Were you close with Chris? Ever have a chance to talk to him about the play?
GL: No. I mean after seeing the media get on him like that—it was terrible. I don’t think that timeout cost him the championship. At that point we were up and neither team was scoring easy. Our defense was great.
You know, Chris was one of the most talented big men that I played against. To be 6-10 with the ability to pass and dribble, it was unknown. Magic did it, but he was Magic.
SLAM: Give us an update. What’ve you been up to since your retirement?
GL: Right now, I’m with the Athletic Department at UC-Irvine, working my way into coaching.
SLAM: Is coaching something you’ve always been interested in?
GL: Definitely. When I was a player, throughout high school, college and the pros, I always did youth camps. I didn’t go right into after my playing days. I had three little kids at home and I wanted to help raise them. I don’t regret it; it’s just hard after being away from the game for five, six years to go into coaching.
SLAM: So, it’s been hard to break in as a coach?
GL: I’ve been through 1,000 practices and played so much more than so many coaches but they look at my resume and can say that I don’t have enough experience. Fortunately enough, I’ve been given this opportunity at UCI.
SLAM: What do you remember looking back on the most successful team you were apart of, the ’00-01 Sixers?
GL: We had one or two stars, obviously Iverson, and there was Dikembe too. But the rest of that team were role players. Guys who were committed to sacrificing their numbers for the team—you know, any of those guys could’ve gone to another team and scored more points or something but our team was set up for Allen to take a large volume of shots and for us to just fill in the holes.
SLAM: Was AI the best you’ve ever played with?
GL: I had opportunity to play with Magic in his later years but I’d say that Allen, in his prime was probably the best player I’ve played with on a team.
SLAM: The lockout.
GL: I hope what the players do in this lockout, and I’ve talked to the Retired Players Association about this, they need to get medical benefits for after their retirement. Guys don’t think of that. They gotta find a way to get players protected after their career, that more than anything else seems important to me.
If a player has to have a major surgery, you know, that can empty his bank account Knees, Hips—those surgeries are expensive.
MLB offers lifetime insurance for their players, why can’t the NFL the NHL and the NBA do it?
SLAM: Most people are focusing on the payroll issue.
GL: Yea, I’m not a player anymore, and not involved in the negotiations but if the owners want to get the revenue split down to 50/50 then they should offer those benefits. Players taking risks that have consequences after their career’s over and, I’m not sure how, but the benefits should be in there.
SLAM: How about players going overseas?
GL: If there was a lockout, I would have done it. It’s a great experience. Learning from another coach, improving your international game. Those guys come play over here so why shouldn’t guys from go play over there?
SLAM: Do you see there being a season?
GL: I think so. It’d be terrible for the fans. The NBA’s done a great job incorporating the fans on a global level and they can’t let the negotiations between players and the owners stop that success. The TV contracts too. There’s a lot of money to be made and neither side wants to lose out.
SLAM: Do you have team or a player(s) that you find yourself rooting for in today’s game?
GL: I’m a Carolina guy. So I like to watch those guys develop. The Mavs were great to watch as a team, they didn’t just go and try to build up a power by signing guys.
SLAM: It’s a younger league than it was when you were starting out. What are your thoughts on that trend?
GL: If they can play and handle the responsibility of being in the League, it’s great. But you see guys out there making mistakes, and I think those failures fall on the organizational as well. If they had mentors to help guys get in line.
When I was coming up I came onto a team with Magic, James Worthy and Sam Bowie—great veterans who took the time to share with the younger guys.
Now, some of these guys are so young and they’re not getting mentor themselves so they can’t reach out to the rookies, cause its not that they don’t want to its just that no one showed them how to do it. If you don’t go to college for two three years you don’t even know what you’re doing with yourself so what do you have to share with those new guys.
SLAM: Could you talk about the end of your career and the transition out of the League?
GL: Like a lot of other guys, it happened unexpectedly. My last two years in Charlotte I had planter fasciitis and I wasn’t able to play, I couldn’t get in shape for training camp. So I decided to give it up and spend time with my family. But in my experience, there’s nothing in place that prepares guys for life after basketball.
Hopefully, you’ve gotten good financial advice. And hopefully you make friendships and relationships along the way so that you can reach back and talk to someone to help you guide you in the right direction. I’m where I’m at now through that process and hope to keep moving towards my getting a job on a bench.