Recentl, CHN writer Jon Teitel spent some time with Georgia State basketball legend Lanard Copeland, who after spending three years in the NBA went on to have an illustrious career in Australia. In his time overseas Copeland even played with the great Andrew Gaze, who some of you may remember for his one season as a Seton Hall Pirate in 1988-89 (lost the title game to Michigan in overtime). To this day Copeland remains one of, if not the greatest, Panthers to grace the hardwood.
Jon Teitel: Why did you choose to go to Georgia State?
Lanard Copeland: I was playing pick-up in their gym in the summertime and thought it was such a clean, nice school. It just smelled right, if you know what I mean.
JT: In 1987 you made 9-10 FG in a game against UTSA, which is still the 2nd-best shooting performance 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"?
LC: I remember that game; it was one of those games where I could not miss. Now that I look back on it, I was in a zone, with many more to come.
JT: You played briefly in the NBA with both the 76ers and the Clippers. What is your favorite memory from your time in the NBA?
LC: My favorite NBA memory was just being on the floor with Barkley on one end and Jordan on the other, then Larry Bird, and Isiah, and Stockton. Wow; what a dream come true!
JT: After playing in the NBA you played professional basketball in Australia for almost two decades. Did you expect to have such a long pro career, and what is your secret for lasting so long?
LC: Australia has been fantastic for me. My first year we lost in the grand final, and I could have just left, but the second year we won it all. It was a great start to a wonderful career; I met my wife, we had some kids, and it has all been fun.
JT: You won league championships in 1993 and 1997 in Australia with the Melbourne Tigers. What did it mean to you to win a title, and what was the reaction like in Melbourne?
LC: To win in Melbourne was unreal. This country is sports mad. No really; if you win, they will come.
JT: You teamed up with Andrew "Drewy" Gaze to play for his father (Coach Lindsay Gaze) and form what many observers feel was the greatest backcourt duo in Australian basketball history. How big a star was Gaze in his homeland, and what was it like to play with him?
LC: He was the hardest working guy who I ever played with, and also a great friend. He never missed a single training session in twelve years; can you believe that?
JT: Some people say that you helped legitimize the sport of basketball in Australia. Do you agree with that, and if so, how do you feel that you helped legitimize it?
LC: I think basketball was growing when I got here; I just brought the alley-oop and a little excitement.
JT: You rank second to Gaze in almost every career statistical category in Melbourne history. Do you think you will eventually be inducted into the NBL Hall of Fame, and what will that mean to you?
LC: I just know it was all fun, and it is really not up to me, but I hope so.
JT: You currently own the Rush franchise in the Foot Locker Elite Classic. What is it like to own a franchise, and what do you hope to do in the future?
LC: It is a five-day tournament with prize money; just another way for me to stay in the game. Hopefully it will grow; you can check it out at www.highstakeshoops.com.
JT: When people look back on your career, what do you want them to remember the most?
LC: I just want people to say that I was a tough player and loved the game.
Lanard is also on my list of best pro players in CAA history:
Delaware: NO ALUMNI IN ABA/NBA
Drexel: Malik Rose (1997)
George Mason: Ricky Wilson (1988)
Georgia State: Lanard Copeland (1990)
Hofstra: Craig "Speedy" Claxton (2002)
James Madison: Linton Townes (1983)
UNC Wilmington: Brian Rowsom (1988)
Northeastern: Reggie Lewis (1988)
Old Dominion: Chris Gatling (1992)
Towson: Kurk Lee (1991)
VCU: Gerald Henderson (1980)
William & Mary: Andy Duncan (1949