Remember former Washington Wizard John Coker? Of course you don’t (especially since he’s wearing a Phoenix Suns jersey in the image below).
[Note: This appears to be the only picture of John Coker on the entire world wide web, so please excuse me if I've "stolen" it from use amongst several websites. To be safe, I've done some artsy-fatsy stuff with it using a filter in Photoshop.]
Not many even remember this guy’s entire NBA career, which is a tad interesting, and very brief.
The four-year product of Boise State went undrafted in 1995 as a 7’1″ center, but was picked up by the Phoenix Suns as a free-agent in September. He only played 11 minutes over five games in his rookie season, but that was evidently enough to get him a two-year contract with Phoenix in July of ’96. Then he was waived by the Suns before the end of October ’96.
Coker then spent some time with the Connecticut Pride of the CBA, served a spell playing ball in Croatia, was with the Toronto Raptors in their ’97 training camp, sniffed Portland, possibly saw Spain, was taken a gander at by the Rockets, and finally, about 1,092 days after his previous NBA game, Coker was signed to a 10-day contract by the Washington Wizards on March 18, 1999.
He played in two games, was signed to a second 10-day contract, played in two more games, and then was signed for the remainder of the ’98-99 season on April 8, 1999. Coker appeared 14 games with the Wizards that year, totaling 98 minutes. His “career” game came against the Atlanta Hawks on April 23, 1999 when he played 17 minutes off the bench; John scored eight points (4-9 FGs), and pulled down four rebounds — the Wizards lost 89-78 by the way. After the season, Washington opted not to re-sign him.
In October 2000 Coker was signed and waived by the Minnesota Timberwolves, twice evidently, but never played with the team. The Golden State Warriors signed him in December 2000; he appeared in four games with them, played 32 total minutes, and scored two whole points. And that was pretty much it for John Coker and the NBA. Subsequent flirtations with the ABA, IBL, Shaw Summer League (Knicks), Italian League, NBDL and CBA should also be noted.
That’s all fine and great, but it’s not why you’re here. You want to hear about Coker, denim jeans and Donovan McNabb!
Hailing from Washington state, the Kitsap Sun recently had a feature on Coker, because, naturally, he is about to be inducted into the Kitsap Sports Hall of Fame.
The article details how the soon-to-be 39-year old Coker, twice-divorced, is now a traveling salesman for a computer software company. Even worse than a future many of us are likely to face, aside from having NBA experience, the article chronicles that while Coker was trying to hang on to his basketball career, he dealt with several health problems.
He collapsed on the court while with the Memphis Houn’Dawgs of the ABA. Doctors later discovered a hole in his heart, which led to surgery. He then dealt with anemia, which was misdiagnosed for a while. Finally, Coker had surgery to remove colon cancer in 2002, effectively ending his basketball career. He played one last time with the Idaho Stampede of the CBA in 2003 so he could end things on his “own terms,” Coker told the Kitsap Sun. Very big bummer.
Ball Don’t Lie’s Trey Kerby, formerly of The Blowtorch, likes to joke that Brian Cardinal is “your dad” (it’s all about what Cardinal, another former Washington Wizard, looks like in a *zinger* sort of fashion). Well, with the divorces, less-than desirable jobs and diagnosed disease, Coker for seriously is your dad (not literally, figuratively … but for seriously). [Also, please bare with me while I make my "I turned 30 in late-June" semi-(but-n0t-really)-reflections about getting older.]
BUT WHAT ABOUT THE JEANS?!?!!?
Oh yea, those. Well, in addition to being a traveling software company salesman, Coker is personally marketing his own line of jeans, “for taller people,” he says. The brand is called Seven1 (as in how tall Coker is), and he firstly intends on talking to his alma mater, Boise State, and then getting into NBA locker rooms, all while using the W Hotel in Scottsdale, Arizona as a primary base for his sales operations (well, kinda/not really).
You see, a lot of athletes evidently go through that hotel (and have residences in Arizona), such as the likes of Amar’e Stoudemire and Donvan McNabb, who, according to the Kitsap Sun article, had drinks at the W with Coker while they shot the breeze about wearing his jeans. Whatever came of it doesn’t appear to be between you, me, and the Internet.
So, perhaps those who cover the Washington Redskins (Steinberg?) will one day dare to ask, “Excuse me Donovan, are those Seven1 jeans you’re wearing?”
They certainly cannot be worse than the ‘mom jeans’ Michael Jordan has seemingly sported for years. And I suppose I shouldn’t assume Coker’s jeans are “bad” or “less than good” in the first place … it’s just that I don’t know if his name rhymes with soccer or poker.