< Previous Page
Asked how the tragedy and transfer impacted Lucas, former Oklahoma State coach Sutton said, "I didn’t give him the fifth degree asking him about it. He just epitomized what everybody looked for in a student athlete."
However, he considered for a moment more and added, "No way it couldn’t affect you some way."
John Lucas III file
Point guard, Utah Jazz
Age » 30
Hometown » Houston
College » Oklahoma State/Baylor
Career » In five NBA seasons has averaged 5.1 points, 1.5 assists. ... Played for Houston (2005-07), Chicago (2010-12) and Toronto (2012-13). ... Also played in Spain, China, Italy and the NBA Development League.
Personal » Son of former NBA player and coach John Lucas II.
Made his own way
While Jazz fans may be quick to look at Lucas’ numbers to support an argument that the Jazz should have made a bolder move at point guard, the number for which Lucas will always be known is the one behind his name.
The first John Lucas, now 93, was an important Civil Rights figure in North Carolina and sits on the board of the National Educators Association. The second was a basketball star who overcame a cocaine addiction to become a coach and personal adviser.
"I take pride in my name," Lucas said, "because I’m also named after my grandfather. I never want to do anything to let him or my father down."
That discounts, of course, the time LeBron James dunked over him. It was January 2012, and Lucas, then with the Bulls, was providing baseline help when James took a lob and went up and over the 5-foot-11 point guard.
"Our family just joined the witness protection program and changed its name," Lucas II quipped to the Chicago Tribune.
Lucas now jokes about the play, and it catapulted him to a certain level of fame, leading, he said, to being a verified member of Twitter.
"Every time I see him I’m like, ‘Thanks for the check,’" Lucas said, "‘the blue check next to my name.’"
With verification in hand, Lucas is still looking for validation. He backed up his strong two seasons in Chicago with a nondescript year in Toronto, averaging 5.3 points in 13.1 minutes per game.
Jazz General Manager Dennis Lindsey had a bigger pool of information from which to draw, however. He knew Lucas since he was a child, and Lindsey worked for the Houston Rockets. Lucas II ran the tennis club where the Rockets practiced, and Lindsey became acquainted with his sons.
And that’s part of the undeniable truth about John Lucas III, which is no different from any story about a son following his father’s footsteps into business. For all that Lucas III overcame on his own and accomplished through his own hard work and dedication, it was on a trail previously blazed by the men in his family.
"It was a gift and a curse, too," Lucas said, "because people would be like, ‘He’s just there because his dad was in the NBA.’ But it’s not like that. I knew a lot of coaches’ kids and players’ kids who don’t have that shot."
Lucas is known for being a fearless shooter, even to a fault. But that doesn’t necessarily equate to being selfish.
"I know in Chicago all his teammates loved him," Thibodeau said. "I think his confidence comes from his work."
And that is Lucas’ defining characteristic.
"At the end of the day," he said, "I want people to know I worked hard. My dad didn’t pull any strings for me. He never did, he never would."
Copyright 2013 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.