Catching up with … Tom Black

Yes, this blog is comprised of month-old leftovers. But that’s how interesting I found former South Dakota State and NBA player Tom Black to be during an interview about his path to the draft.

The 71-year-old former center lives on the western slope of the Rocky Mountains in Ovando, Mont., a town of 71 people not far from Missoula. And the Wisconsin native - and University of Wisconsin transfer – knows how to tell a story:

* One of the first few games of his NBA career, Black was matched up against Wilt Chamberlain. The two sparked up an on-court conversation in short order. Chamberlain referred to his adversary as “Mr. Black” and offered up a deal: He wouldn’t make life too difficult on Black as long as he stayed above the free-throw line. 
"I wanted to thank him," Black said.
But things changed after Black hit a couple of shots, Chamberlain following him more closely. Then, Black got really brave and tried to dunk after faking a hook shot.
"From 15 feet in the air, this hand was coming down at me - I couldn’t even believe it," Black said with a chuckle. 

* In his post-basketball life, Black has been heavily involved with outdoor activities. He ran logging shows - speed climbing, log rolling, things like that – for nearly 40 years and still acts as a sort of guide for corporate groups. It’s a lucrative endeavor in line with making $30,000 as a player for Seattle back in the day.
"I’ll take a group like Mercedes-Benz and their executives come out and I teach them how to shoot skeet and throw knives and hatchets," he explained.
He also puts on a basketball camp for local kids every summer.

* For all the adventure he’s experienced, the only thing hanging on his wall is a picture from his SDSU days that was given to him by the school. That’s in line with a life lesson more than a decorative statement.
"You sit there and think you were really something, and you find out when you get older nobody really remembers you anymore," he said. "I somebody remembers me, I say, ‘Thank you for remembering.’ It was a great time in my life." 

Terry Vandrovec also posts regular updates on his Twitter page.