A Conversation with basketball legend Alvin Attles. Interviewed by Bruce Macgowan.
Alvin Attles grew up and attended a multi-ethnic high school in New Jersey, but went to a segregated college (North Carolina A and T) during the Civil Rights era of the mid 1950s. He was drafted by the Philadelphia Warriors in 1960, and came with the team when they relocated to San Francisco in 1962. Al was a starter for much of his career with the Warriors and played on two teams that went to the NBA Championship Series. The Warriors lost both of those series to the great Boston Celtics and the powerful Philadelphia 76ers. Al played alongside Warriors legends Wilt "The Stilt" Chamberlain, Nate”The Great" Thurmond, and Rick Barry. He also played against such legends as Bill Russell, Oscar Robertson, Jerry West, and Elgin Baylor.
A's nickname was "the Destroyer” because at 6'1" and 190 pounds, he was not the biggest man on the court, so he had to be one of the toughest. He was not a fighter, but could more than hold his own with anyone in a scrap on the court.
Mid way through the 1969-70 season, Warrior owner Franklin Mieuli replaced George Lee with Al Attles as Head Coach. Al was still a part time player, but he was also an assistant coach at the time. Four years later, Al guided the "Cinderella” Golden State Warriors, who featured superstar Rick Barry, Rookie of the Year Keith Wilkes, and a number of relatively obscure but very talented players to their only west coast NBA crown in the club's history.
Attles formula for success was to use everyone on his bench. These were smart, athletic players who wore down the opposition with intense defense and selfless play. The Warriors stunned the sports world in May of 1975 as they swept the heavily favored Washington Bullets of Wes Unseld, Elvin Hayes, and Phil Chanier in four games.
Attles’ team of 1975-76 had the best record in the club's west coast history, but they were upset in the Conference Finals that year. Al coached the Warriors until the end of the 1981-82 season, then moved into the Warriors front office. He worked as the club’s GM, and later returned briefly as an assistant coach in 1995. In the last 15 years he has worked as an adviser and "Ambassador” of the team and has now been associated with the Warriors for over 50 years!
Al has a wife Wilhelmina, and two grown children and still lives in Oakland. Legendary radio broadcaster Bill King referred to Al as "one of the great gentlemen of the game."
The A List Series presents conversations with Authors, Artists, Athletes, Adventurers, Academics and Anarchists.
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Added by cmargaritafranco on June 2, 2011