As part of his Forgotten Legends series, Jon Teitel chatted with former Central Michigan & NBA star Dan Roundfield. After a quality college career that included being the 1975 MAC Player of the Year, "Dr. Rounds" was drafted by Cleveland and spent 12 years in the pros, making 3 All-Star teams, and 5 All-Defensive teams.
CHN: You were nicknamed “Dr. Rounds.” Dow did you get the nickname, and did you like it?
DR: I got that nickname because my initials are “DR” and half the people I met could not get my last name right, so we shortened it to “Rounds”, which was fine by me.
CHN: How did you make the leap from being a raw freshman to an all-league player to an NBA pro? The leap as you say from my freshman year was not that hard (I had a great freshman year), since I continued to work at it. I had only started playing basketball during my junior year in high school, and I got better each year with hard work.
CHN: In 1974 you had a school-record 26 REB vs. Northern Michigan, was it extra-special to do it against NMU?
DR: If I remember correctly, the Northern Michigan game was one where I thought I should have actually gotten even more rebounds. I think we beat them pretty good, and I did not play a whole lot in the second half. NMU did not mean more to me than any other team: if it had been against Michigan State, Michigan, or a MAC team, that would have meant more to me.
CHN: In the 1975 season you were named conference POY. What did that mean to you?
DR: I never really thought about it: it was just something that helped us be a great team. Being voted conference POY was a nice honor: considering that other coaches had to vote on it, it meant that they thought I played pretty well against their teams during the season.
CHN: Take me through the 1975 NCAA tourney. You started with a wild 2-point win over Georgetown, where an offensive foul on the Hoyas gave your team 2 FT with no time left on the clock:
DR: The game should not have been that close, as we made several mistakes late in the game, but in the end we had the right person shooting the free throws. However, the call on the charge is not one that I would have made late in the game: I think it would have been better to just have the teams decide to game in OT.
CHN: What was the feeling like after you lost to Kentucky?
DR: I think we would have done a lot better if Ben Poquette and Russ Davis had not gotten hurt. Ben and Russ were 2 of our best big men, so we did not have a whole lot of size. To this day, I think that we would have beaten Kentucky if both had played. This game was far from the best that I had: if you look at the tape, I had 5 or 6 goaltending calls. As a team we were very disappointed, because we knew that was a game we could have won. [Editor: Dan scored 20 points, had 11 rebounds, and a school-record 8 blocks]
CHN: In the summer of 1975 you were drafted in the 2nd round by Cleveland and in the 1st round of the ABA draft by Indiana. Did you ever consider going to the ABA, or was your heart set on playing in the NBA?
DR: I was disappointed that I did not get picked higher in the NBA draft, but I hurt my leg very badly before the draft, and many teams did not think I would be able to play at all. I thought about leaving school early and going to the ABA, but decided to stay in school.
CHN: During your 1st two years as a pro in 76 and 77, you broke your right wrist 4 times. Was it hard to get some playing time once you were healthy?
DR: The only thing that breaking my wrist did was let people know that I could shoot with either hand! I started the first 5 games before I broke my wrist, so they knew I could play. It was harder to win back playing time because our 2nd round draft pick in 1976 (Mo Howard) could also play, so I had to beat him out again when I came back. Nobody else ever got hurt that year, and that was how I returned to the starting lineup at a new position.
CHN: In 1979 you became only the 7th NBA player age 25 or younger to have a season with 15+ PPG, 10+ RPG, and 2+ BPG: did you feel by then that you could match up well with anyone in the NBA, and did you consider yourself one of the best young players in the league?
DR: I did not really give it much thought: I just tried to do my job to the best of my ability (like my parents talked about all the time).
CHN: From 1980-1982 you were a 3-time All-Star, and in the 1980 All-Star Game you had 18 PTS/13 REB/2 BLK in 27 minutes off the bench. How important was it for you to have such a great game in front of the best players in the league, and did you feel that you should have been named MVP over George Gervin?
DR: My thought process was just do your best because you may never get back in this position. I thought that I played well enough to get the MVP, but back then the person who scored the most points on the winning team always won MVP. The next 2 years I did not get to play in the All-Star Game even though I was on the team. In 1983 I had an even better year*, but did not get picked to be an All-Star. [*19 PPG, 11.4 RPG, career-high 2.9 APG, 1.5 BPG]
CHN: During your 12-year career you were named All-defensive team 5 times. How proud are you of your defensive ability, and do you consider yourself one of the best defenders in NBA history?
DR: I may not have been one of the best in some people’s eyes, but that is the one thing that I knew would keep me in the NBA: teams always need someone who can play defense. [Editor: Dan is one of only 25 players ever with 2500+ career offensive rebounds and 1000+ blocks.]
CHN: During the NBA off-season you worked at Fulton Federal Savings & Loan in Atlanta: what was it like to be an NBA player in a real-world setting?
DR: I always knew that no matter how good you were someday you would be an ex-player, so I just wanted to be prepared in case I did not play that long. Remember: salaries were not that great back then.
CHN: In 1994 you had your shot blocked by Arvydas Sabonis during a game against players from the USSR's 1988 gold medal team, what was it like to play in Red Square?
DR: Playing in Red Square was a great experience: I wish that I had a chance to do it when I was a lot younger. I got an offensive rebound and tried to tip it back in, but Sabonis just blocked me. I did not get a whole lot of attempts during that game.
CHN: You once said that the Bulls’ teams of Michael & Scottie would have struggled against the Celtics/Lakers teams of the 1980s, still think that?
DR: This is why it is very hard to compare teams from different eras. The Bulls’ teams with Jordan/Pippen had no one to compare to Robert Parish or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, which is where the Celtics/Lakers could have matched up well against the Bulls at their strongest positions. Also, do not forget about the 1967 76ers (68-13, won the NBA title), the 1972 Lakers (69-13, won the NBA title), or the great Celtics’ teams from the 1960’s (won 9 titles in 10 years).
CHN: How has your life been since retirement from the NBA?
DR: I have worked for Camp, Dresser and McKee for the past 3 years, and have been in the engineering field for almost 20 years. Life has been good for me and my family after the NBA: remember that almost everyone who played when I did is still working. I am thankful to God that I graduated from CMU and have been able to put my degree to good use.
CHN: How do you want people to remember you?
way that I would like to be remembered is as someone who worked hard, made the
most of his God-given talent, and enjoyed his family and life.
** Dan Rounfield's numbers rank right up there with anybody in MAC history. Here are my all-time MAC "fantasy" studs:
Akron: Bill Turner (1968)
Ball State: Bonzi Wells (1999)
Bowling Green: Nate Thurmond (1964)
Buffalo: Sam Pellom (1980)
Central Michigan: Dan Roundfield (1976)
Eastern Michigan: George Gervin (1973)
Kent State: John Edwards (2005)
Miami (OH): Ron Harper (1987)
Northern Illinois: Jim Bradley (1974)
Ohio: Gary Trent (1996)
Toledo: Larry Jones (1965)
Western Michigan: Paul Griffin (1977)