Gary Freeman ….. from NBA to Holland

Gary Freeman – 66 years old – from Oregon State was drafted by Milwaukee in first round (16th pick) of 1970 draft; by February, was traded to Cavs for McCoy McLemore and a future draft choice and Bucks went on to win NBA title. Freeman, who said he thought being traded would give him more time on the court, not less, played just 47 minutes in 11 games for the Cavs. But he will always go down in history as the Cavs’ original number 23. “I never even considered,” said Freeman, 66, who was a financial advisor in Albany, Ore. He has three kids, including a son who plays professional basketball in France. Freeman played professionally in Holland and Belgium after his one NBA season, and still plays twice a week for fun.

———————– Gary Freeman Basketball career: ———————-

Borah Highschool (Boise – Idaho)
1967-1970 Oregon State University
1970-1971 Milwaukee Bucks (NBA)
1971 Cleveland Caveliers (NBA)
1973-1975 Typsoos Lions (Netherlands)
1975-1978 Buitoni Flamingo’s (Netherlands)
1978-1979 Radio Musette RZ (Netherlands)
1979-1981 Standard Liege (Belgium)



Boise, Idaho
gary-freemanBoise was a great place to live back then. I lived in a nice neighbourhood, had great friends. We were always playing a sport, either football (American), basketball, or baseball, by getting kids from the neighbourhood together. Did this constantly

My first coach was also the principle of our elementary school. He talked me into coming out for the 5th grade team. At the time basketball was a “non-contact” sport and I wasn’t sure I wanted to play such a “sissy” sport! Lol!

Then they spotted me as a future talent on Borah High School. I had several colleges contact me about playing and going to school at their facility

Oregon State University, under coach Paul Valenti                                                       He was the main reason I went to Oregon State. He was a hard, but fair coach. All players earned every minute of playing time. I Iearned a lot from Paul, not only about being a basketball player, but he always emphasized your growth as a human being as well, and how sports helps develop that.

Drafted in the first round (16th) by the NBA team of Milwaukee Bucks and by the Virginia Squires (ABA)539700_10150699744707068_244008617_n
The Squires were ABA. The ABA wasn’t very well established then. Even though the NBA was a far greater challenge (to make a team and even play), and challenges are what you play sports for. A true sportsman loves competition.

I had the great pleasure of playing with 2 of the all time greats – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the all time leading scorer in the NBA, and Oscar Robertson, one of the two great point guards who ever played (Magic Johnson is the other). The trade to Cleveland was a huge disapointment at the time, but it is one of those lessons you learn from sports that you don’t get a chance to learn anywhere else. Which is why playing sports is so great.

I am thrilled that I was fortunate enough to get a year in over some more athletically gifted players that did not get such a chance.

Spain and an missed a plane
I was supposed to be in Spain, but had to be there by a certain date. I was 2500 miles (4000 km) away at the time and had only one day to get home, pack for 9 months, and catch a plane. I got 3 flat tires in an 8 hour period, which made making the plane impossible. Worked out well, though!

Zandvoort, Holland
I was excited to be there. I toured Europe some 2 years before and always liked Holland and the people there.

Waited two hours to be picked up! Hahaha … The first night, I was taken to a korfbal game and was told that this was how Holland played basketball! HAHAHA. They got me good on that one.

I had some great people as teammates and the people around the team as well. They really made me feel welcome. Loved it there.

I initially was with Almer Lee, a guard. We had problems getting rebounds, so when he hurt his knee, we recruited a former college teammate, Vic Bartolome, a center, to come take his place. Henny Blom was the coach, and I enjoyed playing for him and with such players as Karel Vrolijk, Lex Kroder, Roel Tuinstra, Paul Hoeksema, Frans Stipthout, Roy Leysner, Kees Amama and others.

Buitoni Flamingo’s (Levi’s)
Typsoos couldn’t get a sponsor, so it was necessary to move. Three years three coaches. Tom was an American and obviously we related well. Frank was a former opponent, but was a dynamic player and knew the game. Fred was also an American but he was less of a teacher than Tom, and was more of a coach that utilized talent rather than develop it. At the time, the development of players was necessary.

Rotterdam Zuid
We had two Americans and a Dutch-American. Lots of talent, but I don’t think our Americans were as intense when playing as I think we should have been. Too many little things distracted them. Too bad

All Star Team                                                                                                                          It was nice, but I think All Star teams are a bit overblown. I found that the most important ingredient of stardom is your teammates, and All Star teams only promote single players. I like the saying that “Lots can be accomplished if no one cares who gets the credit.” That’s true in sports, life, relationships, and business. Too many crave individual credit to the detriment of the whole.

Standard Luik (Belgium)
Playing with Jackie Dinkins was fun and we did well. I struggled a little the second year, as the coach spoke no English and had a preset idea of where guys should play depending on what your size was. Big guys stayed inside and smaller ones stayed outside

Back to the States
My pro-basketball career was over, yes, but I continued to play city league, AAU ball and whatever other league I could find! I still play on occasion and still love it

I worked for an Engineering company as a purchasing agent for 23 years. I also took up volunteer coaching (basketball) and continue coaching 35 years later. Still love the game!!

One name ….. Victor Bartholome                                                                                     Vic is my best friend and has been for 45+ years. We see each other once a year, usually, even though we live far apart. And our visits are just like we talk every day. Everyone should be so blessed to have such a friend.

Dutch period                                                                                                                         All the people I met. One nice thing about Facebook is it has enabled me to make contact with friends and can see how things are in their lives. For me the people in your life are all that really matter. I like to hear from them on occasion and to try to contact them. As I mentioned before, it’s the people in your life that makes your life special. And not only teammates, but lots of the people I met while there. The rest just fills in here and there.

The first day korfbal thing is one. Eating mayo on french fries (which I still do to this day), Heineken beer on tap was an exciting thought when I learned I was going to Holland. Had plenty of nights I slept with that in my stomach!! That and the Boedha Club in Zandvoort. Ate a lot of the dish that has meat and peanut sauce (don’t remember what you call it, but it is good!)

From the sport side, probably the mentality. Sometimes we would have an important game to play and some of the players would be discussing a Spain-France soccer game in the locker room. Soccer is king and I had to eventually accept that as their way of life.

How is it now with Gary Freeman
I now am an assistant coach at a high school and the head coach was one of my players when he was a 5th grader! But we have a great relationship and he likes to utilize my experience which now is around 55 years or so. (wow that seems so old!!) I also work outside of coaching and enjoy sunshine, my kids (3), and the people in my life.


4 gedachten over “Gary Freeman ….. from NBA to Holland

  1. Pingback: Gary Freeman ….. from NBA to Holland | #1 Basketball Platform van Nederland

  2. Fred, Nice article. I was actually looking for Gary Freeman on-line. I have thought about him over the years and would like to make contact. I played in Holland in 1975-76 for Transol Rotterdam.
    Can you provide me his contact information?


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