PP Mark Rogo then came to the podium to introduce the speaker for the Day, Kiki Van DeWeghe and we all became concerned because it appeared the meeting would be over with PP Mark’s introduction before Kiki even got to speak!! So enthusiastic was PP Mark about our speaker of the day, we had to softly persuade him to sit down so Kiki could speak. Hilarious it was!!
Kiki Van DeWeghe is an American former professional basketball player, coach and executive, who is now an advisor with the National Basketball Association. He is a UCLA graduate, a two-time NBA All-Star who averaged 20 points for seven consecutive seasons while in the NBA who was selected 11th overall in the first round of the 1980 draft. He is the son of a former professional Basketball player, Ernie Van DeWeghe and, his mother was Miss American in 1952!! Great gene pool-right! Kiki began by telling us he was not a basketball player growing up but, a swimmer. Since swimming did not have any scholarships for college, he decided to switch to basketball. He was not very good (according to him), so his dad suggested he go to Junior College first to improve his skills, which was the catalyst Kiki needed to become the great player he became. UCLA did not recruit Kiki being not very good until, he played a pick-up game against Marcus Johnson (and you must know basketball to know who he is), and Marcus convinced the powers that be, to recruit Kiki. The rest as they say, is history. Kiki was an academic All-American while at UCLA where he graduated in four years and thanked the Heavens for the opportunity he was given. UCLA was the place to play basketball back in the late 70’s (John Wooden mean anything to you??) and it was right down the street from Kiki’s house. He was one happy young man when he got recruited to UCLA on Marcus Johnson’s recommendation.
Kiki then told us some stories of his career that included spending six hours one day with John Wooden who read him poetry and told him, “Character is who you are, and reputation is who people think you are.” Although I do not believe Kiki played under him, John Wooden still had a huge influence on him. He admits he sometimes gets lost in the memories of that day he spent with John Wooden.
After his basketball career ended, Kiki went on to work as an executive with the NBA for ten years running the operations for the league which included overseeing the draft, summer league, youth league, and international play. He believes strongly that sports unite people, builds teambuilding, and can be played anywhere in the world and is important for our youth.
Some other little facts he gave us; He played for Coach Pat Riley (remember him??), 25% of the NBA is made up of international players (about 110-115 players); when he played they did not have a 3-point line and today, 30-35% of the shots taken are 3-pointers; the highest scoring game in NBA history had NO 3-pointers; and, John Stockton is one of his favorite players.
Kiki finished by stating he was enthusiastic for the UCLA team this year even though they have not been healthy most of the year, they do have a great defense. He also said non-US players come here for the money of course, but also to see how good they are because this is where all the best players play; and don’t judge Coach Bartow or Cunningham harshly, as anyone would have had trouble following Coach Wooden.
This was a wonderful presentation. Even though he considers himself at times stubborn, Kiki is soft spoken, gracious, very positive and, a great storyteller. He should be a Westwood Village Rotarian!!