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Derrick Coleman

Number One Draft Pick

Coleman was born on June 21, 1967, in Mobile, Alabama, but considers Detroit, Michigan his hometown. Coleman first attracted national attention as the star of the Syracuse University basketball team; he was the number one draft pick for the NBA in 1990, and signed with the New Jersey Nets.

Coleman, who has a rare love of the history of basketball, seemed determined early on to place himself in the pantheon of the game's greats. His professional career started off spectacularly: he won the Rookie of the Year Award in 1991 while playing for the Nets, and was chosen for the Dream Team II, which captured the gold medal at the World Championships in Toronto in 1994. He also played in the All-Star game that year.

Coleman's early fame was sullied by accusations in 1994 that he had raped a woman in Detroit. Although no charges were brought against him, Coleman was embittered by the incident; it proved to him that people were out to get him because of his fame and outstanding talent.

Coleman has a real love and talent for the rhythm and flow of basketball; as Raad Cawthon wrote in the Sporting News, "Coleman has an acute understanding of how

Derrick Coleman

the game works, of the spacing and geometry of a play, and so can easily spot a breakdown." Sometimes this ability leads Coleman to make the shots, the assists, the rebounds, the three-pointers. Sometimes, though, Coleman's abilities are channeled into deriding his teammates and second-guessing the coaching staff. During his years with the Nets, Coleman's vocalizations about what the team should be doing soured his relationships with teammates and coaches. By 1995, the team was ready to unload him; a former coach told the Sporting News, "I did all with Derrick that I could do. But with Derrick, you are only going to get so far, and you might as well understand that."

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