MJ and Valley Hoops – 2 Degrees of Separation

To find some new topics – on the podcast I’ve asked Baker to randomly pick pages from old MVC media guides that I’ve acquired over the years to write blogs about. I’ll hopefully do more of this throughout the year as I truly enjoy diving into MVC history and seeing what I can uncover.


From the 1988-1989 Missouri Valley Conference media guide and page 50 – you’ll see the page below with the caption:

Stan Albeck had things pointing his way during Bradley’s MVC championship season a year ago”

Stan Albeck was born in Chenoa, IL so it’s not a big stretch that he had a three-year playing career at nearby Bradley University. It’s interesting that because of his service in Vietnam his playing career for the Braves was in two phases – 1950-1952 and 1954-1955.

That gets us our 1 degree of separation – even though Bradley was an independent for two of Albeck’s seasons. We can bolster that degree by adding on Coach Albeck’s coaching career at Bradley – which spanned five seasons and a 75-71 overall record. This span included the 1987-88 season with Hersey Hawkins and the #11 ranked Braves winning both the regular season and MVC tournament championship. The 9 seed Bradley Braves were beat in the opening round by the 8 seeded Auburn Tigers of the 1988 NCAA Tournament.

The rich college basketball history for Bradley Basketball anchored in part by Hersey Hawkins might not have been if for Stan Albeck. As reported by the Peoria Journal Star – Hawkins was all but on his way to Villanova after the departure of Dick Versace. Albeck’s history in the NBA and up-tempo style is what kept Hawkins at Bradley – which in turn would highlight his talents. It worked as expected, Hawkins averaged 27 points a game in Albeck’s first year. Then becoming a first-team all-American the previously mentioned 1987-88 season.

On to 2nd degree – that any Chicago Bulls fan knew from the beginning – Stan Albeck coached the 1985-86 Chicago Bulls. That season was Michael Jordan’s second season with the Bulls but he missed 64 games with a broken foot seeing action in only 21 games. However, the 30-52 Chicago Bulls made the playoffs and MJ put up a record 63 points in game 2 of the playoffs versus the Boston Celtics – who went on the sweep the Bulls on their way to becoming World Champions. With former Indiana State Sycamore, Larry Bird saying about that 63 point game, “It’s just God disguised as Michael Jordan.” Albeck coached for only one season before being fired by Jerry Krause one-time Bradley student.

Go Valley!