June 20, 2007–Reggie Theus was pretty much an NBA player while he was starring at UNLV, and he was one of the keys to a UNLV team that averaged more than 100 points per game while on its way to the 1977 NCAA Final Four. He was showtime all the way with all-star looks, look-away passes, and behind-the-back dribbles. He went on to a long NBA career–he was twice named an All Star–and played for a season with Michael Jordan on the Chicago Bulls, before playing a few seasons for the then Kansas City Kings, and then one season for the Sacramento Kings. Following his NBA career, he was a commentator and actor, but then the coaching bug bit and he decided to start at the bottom and earn his coaching stripes.
He coached the awful Las Vegas Slam of the ABA, and around that time he tee'd it up at Las Vegas golf course Rio Secco Golf Club with VegasGolfer Magazine editor Bill Bowman. Today, Theus was named the head coach of the Sacramento Kings. The Kings are owned by the Maloof brothers who also own Las Vegas' the Palms hotel.
"I remember he was very hard on himself during the round when he hit a had shot, but he also recognized and appreciated it when he hit a good one," says Bowman. "I think he will drive the players in the NBA hard, but only as hard as he would push himself."
Theus shot in the mid 80's with Bowman, and during the round talked a little bit about his desire to be a head coach in college or the NBA some day.
"His thoughts were that he knew that he knew a lot about the game, but he wasn't sure that he knew enough to be a great instructor or coach," remembers Bowman. "In the back of his mind he wanted to pursue coaching, but he wasn't sure what opportunities he would get."
To Theus' credit, he started at the bottom by coaching an AAU team in California, and then coached the Slam before getting hired by Rick Pitino at Kentucky. The word was that Pitino wasn't sure Theus had what it took, but gave him a shot. Theus earned a reputation as a great recruiter while at Kentucky, and two years ago was named the head coach at New Mexico State, where he led a losing team to the NCAA tournament this year.
Now, the only question that remains is will Theus someday be the coach of the "Las Vegas Kings"?