In the latest installment in his "Forgotten Legends" interview series CHN writer Jon Teitel spent some time with Rick Bullock, one of the greatest players in Texas Tech history. Bullock ranks in the top three in four major categories: points, rebounds, blocked shots and field goal percentage.
Jon Teitel: In 1972 you led your high school to the Texas state championship game before losing. How good a player were you back then, and how close did you come to winning the title?
Rick Bullock: I guess I was considered a good player, as I was Second Team All-State. We had a very good team that only lost 11 games in three years, and we only lost the title game by about five points.
JT: You were named all-conference during each of your four years in college. How were you able to come in and contribute as a freshman, and how were you able to dominate throughout the rest of your college career?
RB: Texas Tech did not have a lot of strong big men who could rebound when I got there so I was able to play immediately. We had good talent/coaching and that was the first year that freshmen were eligible to play. I was able to contribute because I could score on the low post and was a decent shot-blocker.
JT: In 1975 you fouled out against Arkansas and allegedly flipped off the crowd as you walked off the court. Why did you do that, and what do you think would happen if you did that today?
RB: It was a highly-contested game and I wanted to win very desperately. I fouled out in the final minutes and it was a very hostile crowd, so I just lost my cool at the end. If it happened today I do not think it would be that much out of the ordinary. If you watch games today you will see guys fighting on the court, going into the stands, etc.
1976 SWC Tournament
JT: You scored a career-high 44 points against Arkansas, which is the third-highest total in school history. Was it just one of those scenarios where every shot you put up seemed to go in because you were "in the zone"?
RB: Not really. It was the semifinals and they just kept bringing the ball to me. I think I made a lot of free throws that night and my shot was going in. It was just one of those nights where everything came together for me and clicked in a close game.
JT: You had 28 points and 18 rebounds in a win over Texas A&M in the tournament final and were named tournament MVP. Was that the best all-around game you ever played, and what was the feeling like in the locker room afterwards?
RB: I do not think it was one of my best games as I do not recall having a great game statistically. The first-place team in the regular season got a bye all the way to the conference finals. It was our fourth game in less than a week, while the Aggies had been sitting around and had a couple of guys suspended due to recruiting violations. They were short-handed and we were tired so it was a very close game, and Mike Russell hit a jump shot at the buzzer to win it.
JT: What are your memories of the 1976 NCAA Tournament in Denton, TX (Bullock scored 19 points [7-9 FG] in a win over Syracuse in the first round before losing to Missouri)?
RB: I remember that North Texas had a brand-new facility and we were expecting a huge crowd...but hardly anyone was there because the school was on spring break! Syracuse was not as talented or as big as we were so we won by double digits. It was fun to play at Freedom Hall in Louisville but Missouri had a much more talented team. We were a bit outmatched because Missouri was more battle-ready from playing in the Big 8 and had some very talented guards.
JT: In 1976 you graduated as the leading scorer in school history. Did you realize at the time how prolific a player you were?
RB: Not really. I am the type of person who does not dwell on the awards and accolades. Looking back at it and seeing how people rate some of the guys I played against, I think I played just as well as most of my opponents. I played against guys like Mitch Kupchak and Robert Parish in all-star games and was able to hold my own.
JT: In the summer of 1976 you were drafted in the fourth round by New York before getting released at the end of training camp. Were you thrilled to realize your dream of getting drafted, or disappointed that you did not make the team?
RB: The Knicks had always been my favorite team so it was exciting to be in New York. They had a veteran team that was not in rebuilding mode so the only rookie they kept was Lonnie Shelton.
JT: You later played professionally in the CBA and in Europe. What did you learn from these experiences, and how did they compare to college basketball?
RB: The CBA was a bit disorganized because everyone was trying to make it and be seen when scouts came to the games, so the team concept went out the window. It was a guard-oriented league because they had control of the ball, so I just did a lot of rebounding and played defense. The people in Europe for the most part treated me very well, but I did not particularly care for the fact that I was treated like a commodity. In the NBA the high draft picks will make the team but the lower-drafted guys will only make it if they fit into the system.
JT: You currently work for the San Antonio Water System and you used to coach local youth teams. Which job did you like more, and what do you hope to do in the future?
RB: I do not coach the youth teams any more because my kids are grown up. I work as an accountant but I still have kids in college, so I will be working for awhile! As my nephews get older, I might get involved with coaching them.
JT: When people look back on your career, how do you want to be remembered the most?
RB: Not sure. I do not dwell on what I used to do. I just hope people say that I was a pretty good player who played hard.
Bullock is also on Jon's list of best fantasy players in Big 12 history
Baylor: LaceDarius Dunn (2011) 2285 PTS (#1), 158 STL (#3), 388 3PM (#1), 39.4 3P% (#3), 83.6 FT% (#1), All-American
Iowa State: Jeff Grayer (1988) 2502 PTS (#1), 910 REB (#4), 199 STL (#5), All-American
Kansas: Danny Manning (1988) 2951 PTS (#1), 1187 REB (#1), 3-time All-American, 3-time conference POY, national POY, NCAA MOP
Kansas State: Rolando Blackman (1981) 1844 PTS (#3), 314 AST (#5), 2-time All-American, conference POY
Missouri: Doug Smith (1991) 2184 PTS (#2), 1053 REB (#1), 178 STL (#3), 129 BLK (#2), All-American, 2-time conference POY
Oklahoma: Wayman Tisdale (1985) 2661 PTS (#1), 1048 REB (#1), 57.8 FG% (#2), 3-time All-American, 3-time conference POY
Oklahoma State: Byron Houston (1992) 2379 PTS (#1), 1189 REB (#1), 222 BLK (#1), 159 STL (#4), All-American, conference POY
Texas: Travis Mays (1990) 2279 PTS (#2), All-American, 2-time conference POY
Texas A&M: Bernard King (2003) 1990 PTS (#1), 232 3PM (#1), 550 AST (#2)
Texas Tech: Rick Bullock (1976) 2118 PTS (#3), 1057 REB (#3), 149 BLK (#2), 56.5 FG% (#2)