On July 28, Comcast SportsNet will look back -- with teammates, coaches and family -- at the basketball life of Reggie Lewis, 20 years after his passing. For more on Reggie, visit csnne.com for a new story each day this week. Remember Reggie is presented by your New England Ford Dealers.
The 1987 NBA Draft aired live on TBS, with host Bob Neal, analyst Larry Conley and Hall of Famer Rick Barry handling the broadcast duties. Back then, there were only 23 teams in the league, and thus only 23 picks per round. (There were also seven rounds, but the first is all we care about here.)
Having lost in the Finals the previous season, the Celtics had the 22nd overall pick. With one of the best frontcourts in NBA history still intact, they were in search of some perimeter help.
“There’s a player, Reggie Lewis from Northeastern, which is of course in Boston,” Neal said, as the broadcast returned with the Celtics on the clock. “He’s available, but I’m not sure if they’ll take him.”
Of course, they did. Lewis became the first and last Huskie ever selected in the first round, and joined an impressive draft class that featured three future Hall of Famers (David Robinson, Scottie Pippen and Reggie Miller), an additional four All-Stars (Kevin Johnson, Horace Grant, Mark Jackson and Lewis) and an assortment of other bonafide pros like Kenny Smith, Derrick McKey and Mugsy Bogues.
“We’ve watched him quite a bit, not only because he’s local, but because he was at our basketball camp last year,” said Red Auerbach, in an interview from Celtics headquarters. “He can play a big guard. He knows where the hoop is. He drives very well to the basket. He gives us a dimension that we need incase Danny Ainge or Dennis Johnson get hurt.”
Ainge started 81 of 82 games that next season, meanwhile DJ played in 77, so Lewis barely saw the floor, averaging only 8.3 minutes a night and playing in only 49 games. But by the next year, between Larry Bird missing all but six games to injury and Ainge being dealt to Sacramento at the deadline, Lewis finally got a chance.
He played 81 games (with 57 starts), averaged 32.8 minutes and 18.3 points a night, and another promising young Celtics career was underway.