He's one of the all-time hard-luck basketball players, but didn't need to play to have a great life.
This conversation was recorded in the studio on a Sunday night, after the Big Ten tournament championship game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. I picked up Kellogg, who had helped broadcast the game, at his Downtown hotel along with a young man who was job-shadowing him. He would have had every reason to turn me down since he had already put in a full day's work, but didn't because that's the kind of guy he is.
I covered Kellogg in college at Ohio State. He's one of the most dominant players to come out of the Big Ten, and played in one of the most memorable regular season college games I've ever seen – the last game of the season at Indiana for the Big Ten championship in 1980. I believe eight of the 10 starters in that game played in the NBA – or, in the case of Landon Turner, probably would have. I'd pay money to see that game on video. Indiana won in overtime, and Kellogg is still upset about that.
He had one of the best rookie seasons a Pacer has ever had, averaging 20.1 points and 10.6 rebounds. He was just as good his second season, but suffered a knee injury during his third that proved to be his downfall. He retired after playing four games in the 1986-87 season at the age of 25. He would have become one of the greatest players in franchise history had he stayed healthy. I didn't cover many of his games with the Pacers, but did cover his retirement press conference at the Embassy Suites hotel. I remember him sitting next to coach Jack Ramsay and recalling a big game he had against Ramsay's team in Portland. But Ramsay recalled winning the game. That was the problem for Kellogg as a Pacer. He didn't win many games and ultimately didn't have much to show for such a promising career.
If you're looking for a silver lining, the Pacers probably would never have drafted Reggie Miller if Kellogg hadn't suffered that knee injury, because they would have been a much better team in 1987 and wouldn't have been drafting high enough to get Miller. So there's that.
Kellogg went on to become a great broadcaster, both for the Pacers and for college basketball. He started from scratch, and from what I've heard was terrible in his early days on local radio, but he developed a unique style that managed to be both colorful and intelligent.
His basketball career was shortchanged, but he's having a great life with no regrets.
First aired 2010Tagged with: Clark Kellogg, Indiana Pacers, Ohio State basketball