During his search for a new varsity basketball coach, Lincoln High School (San Jose) athletic director Kevin Collins got a voice message from Tariq Abdul-Wahad.
The name didn't ring a bell, which is understandable. Abdul-Wahad is better remembered in these parts as Olivier Saint-Jean, the France-born sensation who single-handedly (and trilingually) propelled San Jose State to its last March Madness appearance, in 1996.
Collins put the name through an Internet search and suddenly made the connection: Abdul-Wahad was a first-round draft pick by the Kings and played six seasons in the NBA.
And if that wasn't enough to jar his memory, Abdul-Wahad was the only one of 12 candidates for the Lincoln High vacancy to include a letter of recommendation from Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers.
It seemed too good to be true. So Collins called the player with an estimated $37.9 million in career earnings to ask, in essence, why the heck would you want to do this?
"I just want to coach," said Abdul-Wahad, who got the job.
Abdul-Wahad, 38, was always something of the thinking man's hoopster part baller, part scholar. Raised in Versailles, France, he took frequent field trips to the Louvre as a kid. (In interviews, he's been known to quote artist Georgia O'Keeffe.)
When his 13-year-old daughter showed athletic promise about three years ago, Abdul-Wahad showed her basketball fundamentals. He also tutored other girls and discovered he was a natural teacher.
San Jose Mercury News