Rolando Blackman (born February 26, 1959 in Panama City, Panama) was drafted by the Dallas Mavericks in the first round of the 1981 NBA draft. He went on to play eleven seasons with the Mavs.
After being raised in Brooklyn, New York, Blackman attended Kansas State University where he played basketball under Jack Hartman. At Kansas State, Blackman had a number of noteworthy achievements:
In 1978, he won the Kansas State's Dean Harris Newcomer of the Year award given for dedication, enthusiasm, basketball ability and team play. In 1980, he was named the Big Eight Conference Player of the Year and All-American. He was a three-time unanimous All-Big Eight selection. He was three times named the Big Eight Defensive Player of the Year. He scored 1,844 career points, the second-highest total in K-State history. He had a career shooting percentage of .517.
Finally, prior to his senior season, Blackman also was a starter for the 1980 Summer Olympics basketball team that did not play in the Olympics because of the U.S. Olympic boycott by President Jimmy Carter.
Blackman was featured on the March 23, 1981 cover of Sports Illustrated hitting what many believe is the most famous basket in Kansas State basketball history. The shot came with two seconds left and enabled the Wildcats to defeat second-ranked Oregon State in the second round of the NCAA tournament. He left Kansas State as one of only three Wildcats to be named Big Eight conference Player of the Year and one of only three to earn all-conference honors three times in his career.
Long after his departure from school, in 1996, when the Big Eight Conference expanded to the Big 12, Blackman was named to the AP all-time All-Big Eight basketball team.
He was elected to the Kansas State University Athletic Hall of Fame and the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame. He has been named to the Kansas State University All-Century team and had his jersey (number 25) retired by the school in 2007.
Kansas State's basketball Most Valuable Player award was named in Blackman's honor prior to the 2006-2007 season.
Dallas drafted Blackman in the first round of the 1981 NBA draft. In eleven seasons with the Mavericks, Blackman was named to the NBA All-Star Team four times and played on six Maverick playoff teams. Blackman scored 16,643 points and 6,487 field goals with the Mavericks, both of which were team records until Dirk Nowitzki surpassed Blackman in points on March 8, 2008. He is the Mavericks' second all-time leading playoff scorer, behind only Nowitzki.
Blackman spent his final two seasons in the NBA with the New York Knicks. When he retired following the 1993-94 NBA season, he had career totals of 17,623 points, 3,278 rebounds and 2,981 assists. Blackman's points total ranks as the 60th-best in NBA history (directly behind Magic Johnson). His number 22 was retired by the Mavericks on March 11, 2000. During the 2006 NBA Finals, Blackman's former coach with the New York Knicks, Pat Riley, admitted, publicly for the first time, that sitting Rolando Blackman in favor of John Starks during Games 6 and 7 of the 1994 NBA Finals was the biggest coaching mistake in his career and that he has never forgiven himself for it.
Although his NBA career was over, Blackman signed with Greek team AEK Athens BC in the middle of the 1994-'95 season. The next year he played for Olympia Milano in Italy, and helped them to win both the National Championship and the Cup of 1995-96 by averaging 15.3 ppg. In the championship game, Blackman shot 8 of 12 and was named the finals Most Valuable Player.
One of the first things Blackman did upon the end of his playing career was to return to Kansas State and complete his degree.
"I had fun my playing career but I knew it was time to finish the school part." Blackman, who was 13 hours short of graduating, told the National Basketball Retired Players Association "Legends of Basketball" website. "I knew I was intelligent and it was important for me to get away from the negative stigma that athletes don't complete school. Graduating was one of the most nerve-wracking moments of my life. I was so filled with emotion...I hadn't been that nervous in a long time."
In 2000, Blackman was tapped to be the defensive coordinator for the Mavericks under coach Don Nelson. The next year he served as an assistant coach for the German National team and helped lead them to a bronze medal at the 2002 World Basketball Championships in Indianapolis. During the 2004-2005 NBA season, Blackman was hired as one of the Mavericks' television analysts, along with Matt Pinto and Bob Ortegel. For the 2005-2006 NBA season, Blackman returned to the Mavericks' bench, serving his first season as a full-fledged assistant coach. In July 2006 he was promoted to the position of Director of Player Development.
Blackman took a short break from his Mavericks duties in the summer of 2010 to be an assistant coach for the country of Turkey in the 2010 FIBA World Championships. He helped lead the host country to a silver medal losing only to the USA in the finals.
Blackman is on the Board of Directors of the Assist Youth Foundation. The foundation's goal is to advance opportunities for underprivileged kids in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex and across the globe. |