In the latest installment in his "Forgotten Legends" interview series, CHN writer Jon Teitel spent some time with Colorado State great Pat Durham. By the time Durham left Fort Collins he was the program's all-time leader in both points and rebounds, marks he still holds to this day.
Jon Teitel: Colorado State head coach Boyd Grant liked to wear a fedora. What was he like to play for, and how did you like his ensemble?
Pat Durham: He usually wore slacks with the fedora but he was a very Bear Bryant-looking character, so it was both intimidating and funny at times.
JT: What are your memories of the 1988 NIT (CSU reached the semifinals before a two-point loss to Ohio State, then had a one win over Boston College in the third place game)?
PD: It was an incredible time for me and the university. The school had been absent from any postseason tournament for 20 years, so the excitement around the campus was just crazy. To this day I am still a little disappointed about the final results because we lost to Ohio State on a bad call in the final moments.
I felt that we should have won it all and I really wanted a piece of Connecticut and Cliff Robinson. As a competitor, you want to go head-to-head with other guys that are supposed to be better (according to the media or whatever). It is how you prove your talents.
JT: As a senior you served as national spokesman for the NCAA. How did you enjoy the gig?
PD: It was a great honor and great to have that kind of exposure on a national level, both for me and the university.
1989 NCAA tournament
JT: You scored 16 points in a win over Florida. What was the reaction like back on campus, and how far did you think your team could go?
PD: We felt as a team that we were robbed of an opportunity the year before because of Eric Leckner (who made a 19-foot fadeaway jumper at the buzzer to give Wyoming a two-point win in the WAC tournament semifinals). As a unit we felt that the NCAA tournament was the place where we belonged, and after being chosen for the tournament we also felt that we were one of the most underrated teams in the tournament so we definitely had a chip on our shoulders. We had a group of guys that just had no fear of any team. We were good defensively and believed that gave us an opportunity whenever we took the floor.
Getting SEC champion Florida was just what we needed to prove to the country that CSU was a legitimate team that could play and beat anyone, and we went about proving that in the first round. We had great fans that traveled to Dallas to watch us. Their support was just amazing.
It was also pretty cool for me to be back home playing in the tournament because my family and friends had a chance to watch the skinny kid they had seen before who some would say could not walk and chew bubble gum at the same time! When it came to basketball and leading a major university to the tournament with a national ranking, it was just awesome. The experience of playing on that level definitely fueled my confidence.
JT: In the second round you lost to Syracuse after Derrick Coleman returned from a back injury to score 12 points. Could you tell at the time that Coleman was going to become a star, and what was the feeling like in your locker room afterwards?
PD: Syracuse was a different story because at the end of the day they just had overwhelming talent. We really believed as a team that we could go as far as the Final Four, and I still feel that if we would not have gotten a team as loaded with talent as Syracuse that we would have stood a better chance of advancing.
DC was an incredible player. It did not take a rocket scientist to figure out that he would be great! That entire team was immensely talented but you could tell that DC was cut from different stock. You are ALWAYS disappointed when you lose, but I think that every one of our players could look each other in the eye and know that we had given our best and that our best was just not as good as theirs.
We understood that we had just gone to battle with a superior team. My dad once told me, "Son, it is okay to be proud, but in your pride do not be stupid!" You always want to think of you and your teammates as being the best, but I do not think you can at times ignore reality.
As far as the feeling in the locker room, there was still a feeling of great accomplishment for that team. On a fishing trip with Boyd a few summers ago in Utah, he brought to my attention that our 1988 team won more games than any other team in school history. Boyd does not forget anything, but when you reflect on those things you realize that you accomplished some good things.
JT: You were a three-time first team All-WAC performer (Colorado State was a member of the WAC at the time). How were you able to dominate throughout your college career?
PD: I have no idea. You look at the WAC and it is fair to say that the conference produced some great talent at that time. For me to compete in that era was great because it brought out the best in me. I believe that the traits I had as a player in terms of my work ethic and competitive drive definitely helped my cause. I was a guy that always wanted to win. It did not matter whether it was basketball or checkers: I just loved to compete and win.
A secret about me that not many people know or understand is that I never loved basketball. I am not a fan and did not even start playing basketball until I was about 15 years old, so I was a very late bloomer (so to speak). It was never the love of my life, but I found out that I could be good at it and what I loved more than anything was competition. Basketball gave me the chance to compete day in and day out.
I wish I had loved the game more but in some ways it gave me the ability to look at the game more objectively. I think because of that I never cared about statistics, and I think most guys who played with me would tell you that I played the game the right way.
JT: You are still the all-time leading scorer and rebounder in school history. Did you realize at the time how prolific a player you were?
PD: The great thing about that is that at the time I really did not understand what it all meant. It is only now that I begin to realize that leaving that kind of legacy is something I can be proud of; it is a great accomplishment. My kids are getting to the age where they are interested in basketball, and to be able to look in the books and have your name mentioned with some of the greats in school history is very humbling.
JT: In the summer of 1989 you were drafted in the second round by Dallas (one spot ahead of Cliff Robinson). Were you thrilled to realize your dream of making it to the NBA or disappointed that you did not get selected earlier?
PD: Both I guess. I felt like I could have gone higher in the draft, but just to be selected given my pedigree at that time was special. Neither CSU nor the WAC were a hotbed for NBA talent, so in some respects I felt like I had to be a little better than guys who were at more high-profile schools.
JT: You averaged five points per game during your two-year NBA career. How satisfied are you with your career, and how do you want people to remember you the most?
PD: I am not satisfied because I felt that if I could have had more time then my talent would have been able to shine through a little more. However, I had some wonderful opportunities in the NBA and it was a great experience. My career was definitely hampered by the lockout. I chose to go back to Europe instead of waiting around for the lockout to end, and I think it definitely hurt the amount of time that I probably could have played.
JT: You played professionally in Europe from 1996-2007. What did you learn from this experience, and how did it compare to the NBA?
PD: It was a wonderful experience because it allowed me to open my mind. I think that I became more of a well-adjusted person for that experience, and I also met my wife in France! Today we have four boys together who I hope will have the desire to become players one day. Playing in Europe made me well-rounded because much more is asked of you and the teams put a lot of pressure on the foreign players; plus it is much more of a team game.
Now you see European players coming here and the NBA having a better appreciation for the skill set of the Euro players, so you are kind of seeing the evolution of the game in terms of that style of play becoming more accepted by the NBA. In Europe we went into games knowing that getting a win did not require a 100% effort each and every night. In the NBA the talent level is there night in and night out, so you have a different mental preparation.
JT: You are co-founder of Archiva Sports. What kind of work does the company do, and what has your company accomplished so far?
PD: Archiva is a unique company in that we were the first company to work with professional agents and move their video to what is now known as "the cloud", and from there give them the ability to move content anywhere in the world within minutes. When we started this was all a very new concept and we had to twist some arms just to get them to try it. Now it is much more prevalent but at the time we were the trendsetters in the industry.
We have extended our market into high schools and are currently working on making Archiva the largest database of HS video available. We allow schools, agents, and players, to put their video into a cloud environment and give third-party users access to that content via email.
Durham is also on Jon's list of best players in Mountain West history:
Air Force: Raymond Dudley (1990) 2178 PTS (#1), 148 STL (#3), 285 3PM (#1), 39.6 3PM (#5), 2-time All-American
Boise State: Chris Childs (1989) 1602 PTS (#5), 392 AST (#3), 215 STL (#1), 42.2 3P% (#4), 81.8 FT% (#1), conference POY
Colorado State: Pat Durham (1989) 1980 PTS (#1), 851 REB (#1), 109 STL (#5), 171 BLK (#3)
New Mexico: Kenny Thomas (1999) 1931 PTS (#2), 1032 REB (#1), 239 BLK (#2), All-American
San Diego State: Michael Cage (1984) 1846 PTS (#2), 1317 REB (#1), 54.8 FG% (#5), 118 BLK (#2), 2-time All-American, 2-time conference POY
TCU: Corey Santee (2005) 1832 PTS (#2), 575 AST (#1), 155 STL (#2), 243 3PM (#1)
UNLV: Stacey Augmon (1991) 2011 PTS (#3), 1005 REB (#3), 275 STL (#1), 41.9 3P% (#3), All-American, conference POY, 3-time defensive POY
Wyoming: Fennis Dembo (1988) 2311 PTS (#1), 954 REB (#3), 410 AST (#4), 176 STL (#2), 143 3PM (#5), All-American, conference POY