Jim Spanarkel

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James Gerard Spanarkel
Jim spanarkel.jpg
Position: Guard, Forward
Height: 6'5
Weight: 190
Nationality: American
Born: 6/28/1957
Birthplace: Jersey City, NJ
Draft: 16th overall
Drafted By: Philadelphia
College: Duke
NBA Career: 1979-1984
Mavs Tenure: 1980-1984

Jim Spanarkel (born June 28, 1957 in Jersey City, New Jersey) was an original Dallas Maverick, obtained in the NBA expansion draft from the Philadelphia 76ers.

Spanarkel played both baseball and basketball at Hudson Catholic High School in Jersey City. He elected to attend Duke University where they offered him the opportunity to play both sports.

As a freshman with the Blue Devils, Spanarkel won 1976 Freshman of the Year honors in the Atlantic Coast Conference. He followed that up with a sophomore season where he was named the team's MVP, All-ACC and was MVP of the ACC post season tournament while averaging 19.2 points per game.

His junior season in 1977-1978, Spanarkel won the Swett Memorial Trophy as the team's MVP for the second year in a row. He was selected team captain and averaged 20.8 ppg for the season. He was a GTE Academic All-American and was selected the Most Outstanding Player in the East Regionals of the NCAA tournament.

It was during his junior year that Spanarkel led Duke to the National Championship game losing to Kentucky. It was the first Duke team to make the NCAA tournament in over a decade and is widely recognized as opening the door to the Duke basketball dynasty.

During his senior year, Spanarkel was again team captain, was team MVP for the third consecutive season, was selected GTE Academic All-American for the second time and was a UPI First-Team All American on the court. He ended his career with the Blue Devils as the first player to score over 2000 points in a career.

Drafted in the first round of the 1979 draft by the Philadelphia 76ers, Spanarkel played in 40 games for the Eastern Conference Champions, averaging 5.0 points per game. After his rookie season, the Sixers exposed Spanarkel to the NBA expansion draft used to stock the Dallas Mavericks.

With the Mavericks in 1980-1981, he saw extended playing time for the first time going from 442 minutes of action in Philadelphia to 2,317 minutes in Dallas where he scored almost six times as many points for the Mavs (1,184 to 198) as he did in Philly. He also finished fourth in the NBA that year in free throw percentage at .886.

Spanarkel played in all 82 games in both of his first two seasons in Dallas and averaged 10.1 ppg in 1981-1982 during what was a very enjoyable season for the 6'5 guard.

Talking to DUKE Magazine in 2002 he said, "I loved playing for Dick Motta and enjoyed being there when they (Dallas) acquired Mark Aguirre and Rolando Blackman and had their first success."

As Spanarkel's time on court dwindled over the next two seasons, as the Mavs added such marquee players as Aguirre, Blackman, Jay Vincent and Derek Harper, he used some of his downtime in hotels and airports to earn both his real estate and security licenses.

Spanarkel made a brief appearance in the Milwaukee Bucks free agent tryout camp prior to the 1984-1985 season but decided to retire at age 27.

Looking back on his time with the Mavericks, he told Andrew Stephens of "Legends of Basketball" (the website of the National Basketball Retired Players Association) the story of what may have been his favorite memory in Dallas.

"It happened when we were an expansion team. We used to take turns and shift the role of captain from time to time. On this particular night against the San Antonio Spurs, it was my turn to play the role of captain. The Spurs were kicking our butts really badly and our coach, Dick Motta, was chewing out the referees all throughout the first half. Before the start of the second half, the official called me over to speak with him at half court. I remember watching coach Motta just steaming at the sidelines assuming the official was talking about him. When I returned to the bench the coach asked me, ‘What did he say?’ I told him the official said, ‘If that S.O.B. doesn’t sit down, I’m going to run him out of this game.’ Before I could tell coach I was only kidding, he was gone like the flash and in that official’s face. It didn’t take long for him to get tossed out of the game. Our assistant, Bob Weiss, asked me during the chaos if the ref really said that. I told him no and that I just made it up to get a reaction from the coach. Coach Motta was a good guy, and we got a big laugh out of it after the game over dinner."

After his five year stint in the NBA, Spanarkel went to work for Merrill Lynch and today is a Vice President with the firm. He has also served as a studio analyst for NBA TV among other TV stations. He served as the New Jersey Nets television analyst for 18 years and has worked for CBS calling Big East and NCAA tournament games.

Spanarkel was honored by his alma mater when he was named to the Duke Hall of Fame in 1990 and the Duke Circle of Honor in 2001. To this day his name is still all over the Duke basketball record books where he still ranks first in "Steals in a Season" with 92, is eighth in career scoring with 2012 points and is ninth in games played with 114.