2010 ACC Men's Basketball Legends: Jack Marin, Duke

Jan. 28, 2010

The 2010 ACC Basketball Legends class is a group of 12 former standout players - one from each ACC school - who will be honored during the 2010 ACC Men's Basketball Tournament. TheACC.com will feature two members of the ACC Legends Class each week during the six weeks prior to the tournament.

The annual ACC Legends Brunch will be held on Saturday, March 13 beginning at 10 a.m. Hosted by television personalities Tim Brant and Mike Hogewood, the ACC Men's Basketball Legends Brunch will be held in the in the Guilford Ballroom of the Sheraton Four Seasons Hotel.

 


Since the middle of the 20th century Duke University has achieved national prominence for both its academic status as one of the leading institutions of higher education worldwide, and with its men's basketball program. Consistently producing leaders in the field of medicine, law, politics, as well as professional basketball players, Duke attracts some of the brightest and most gifted students across America. Jack Marin tried his hand at all four. Marin was an All-America selection during his three-year career at Duke before embarking on a successful and lengthy career in the National Basketball Association and law.

Growing up in western Pennsylvania, a region chock full of talented quarterbacks, Marin would eventually become the area's most celebrated basketball star. Notable area talent includes the likes of Johnny Unitas, Jim Kelly, Joe Montana, and Dan Marino, but, in a region crazy for its football beneath the lights of cool autumn evenings, it was basketball Marin was attracted to as a high school student.

Marin began his great legacy in small-town Farrell, Pa.--population 13,000--where he dominated both the hardwood and textbooks. He graduated from Farrell High School in 1962 valedictorian, where, two years earlier, he was a first-year reserve on the Steelers 1960 state championship squad. Under the guidance of Pennsylvania coaching legend Eddie McCluskey, whose teams won seven Pennsylvania state basketball titles in eight tries spanning a 29-year period, Marin embarked on a high school basketball career that led to scholarship offers from more than 80 schools.

Marin soon became the best player on his Steelers squad. Another student from nearby Beaver Falls was the best athlete at his school, and the pair shared a basketball court when Farrell and Beaver Falls matched up on the hardwood. Both were prospects to play sports at the collegiate level. The student from Beaver Falls caught the eye of Paul "Bear" Bryant at the University of Alabama. His name was Joe Namath.

Rivaling Namath in athleticism, Marin caught the eye of a few folks in North Carolina. Lefty Driesell of Davidson, not yet the legend he would become while the head coach at Maryland, recruited him the hardest, and Vic Bubas, who had taken the reigns of Duke's basketball program in 1959, and his assistant, Bucky Waters, showed interest as well. Bubas saw what he was looking for in his first experience with Marin. To Marin's knowledge, Bubas would not see him play again until he was wearing a Blue Devil uniform.

Duke's academic reputation being what it is, Marin thought about a career in medicine. He also visited Maryland and Michigan and considered Penn, Pitt, and Navy before deciding on Duke "because of the weather," he says facetiously. "When you come from western Pennsylvania, you would walk to your house from practice at night on cold snow. Then you come to Durham and its 70 degrees in March. It's somewhat of a revelation.

"I pretty much fell in love with Duke on my first visit," Marin recalls. "It was a perfect weekend. When you walk on the Duke campus, you realize it's a perfect college setting. What it offers in a learning experience is even more impressive. It was the logical choice for me."

Marin came to Duke at a time when Bubas was on his way to building an NCAA championship contender. The NCAA did not permit freshmen to participate in varsity athletics, so after a season on the freshman team, Marin became part of a unit loaded with talent. "He [Bubas] knew how to deal with egos--we had high-end talent--and he got us all working together," says Marin.

In a career decorated by great success and few disappointments, the disappointments came when the stakes were high. As a sophomore during 1963-64 season, Duke posted a 25-6 record as Marin turned in averages of 7.7 points and 4.7 rebounds per game. Duke cruised to a 13-1 league record and an ACC championship with wins over NC State, North Carolina, and Wake Forest on consecutive days. The third-ranked Blue Devils went on to defeat Villanova, Connecticut, and Michigan in the Final Four, but fell to UCLA, 98-83, in the title game.

Following the summer of 1964, Marin returned to Durham, Bobby Verga became part of the varsity as a sophomore, and the pair, along with Steve Vacendak, began to compete for a spot as the top do on the team. "We were the last people on the floor at practice," Marin recalls. "I think it was because we didn't want the other guy to get ahead, and it certainly didn't hurt us when we played other people."

Marin's junior season saw him post career-highs of 19.1 points and 10.3 rebounds per game, and a blistering 54.6 shooting percentage en route to first-team All-ACC honors, as Duke raced to its third consecutive ACC regular-season title (11-3) and advanced to the ACC Tournament's championship game, but bowed to NC State in a 91-85 upset.

Armed with fabulous coaching and well-schooled talent, Duke began his senior campaign with a No. 3 national ranking, and later achieved a No. 1 ranking for eight consecutive weeks. The Blue Devils ran to their fourth consecutive ACC regular-season title (12-2), and won the ACC Tournament with wins over Wake Forest, North Carolina, and NC State in the title game. Marin again was selected first-team All-ACC, and even garnered second-team All-America recognition after posting averages of 18.9 points and 9.7 rebounds per game. Dominant junior and senior seasons allowed Marin to average a double-double for the two-year period, with 18.8 points and 10.0 rebounds per game.

His magnificent two-year run led Duke back to the Final Four. Duke topped fifth-ranked St. Joseph's and Syracuse before meeting a formidable Kentucky team, led by Pat Riley, who would go on to become an NBA coaching legend. Riley, a junior, averaged 22.0 points per game for the 1965-66 season, but Marin limited Riley to 19 points in the semifinal game, while scoring a game-high 29 himself. But the Blue Devils were without the usually dominant Bob Verga, and lost a close 83-79 decision to the Wildcats. Verga was week after a battle with strep throat in the week leading up to the game, but Duke rebounded to beat Utah in the third-place game and Marin garnered all-tournament mention.

As his senior season drew to a close, Marin planned on entering Duke's medical school until the Hawks, then in St. Louis, contacted him about a career in the NBA. "Before that," Marin explains, "I had no thoughts or aspirations of playing professionally."

Marin interviewed with and was subsequently accepted to Duke's medical school, and he assured them he would attend. The Baltimore Bullets selected him with the fifth overall pick in the 1966 NBA Draft, so he went to Baltimore to visit with team management. Not quite sure how his post-graduate education would be financed, Marin entertained Baltimore's contract offer.

"I thought I'd play for a few years then go to medical school," he remembers. The Bullets offered him the princely sum of $18,500, making him the third-highest paid rookie in the league.

Marin proved a good choice for Baltimore as he averaged 14.8 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 2.0 assists per game over his first four seasons alongside the likes of hall of famers Earl Monroe and Wes Unseld, and medical school remained on the back-burner. During the 1970-71 campaign--his fifth season--Marin guided a mediocre team to a 42-40 record, but an improbable run through the playoffs led the Bullets to the NBA finals, where they were swept by the Oscar Robertson-led Milwaukee Bucks.

In his sixth season, Marin averaged a career-high 22.3 points per game while attending the University of Maryland's law school in Baltimore at the same time. A professional basketball career and the demands of law school proved to be impossible for an emerging NBA all-star, so Marin shifted it to the back-burner as well.

The Bullets were impressed with Marin's six-year totals, but were confident in backup Mike Riordan and needed help for Unseld on the inside, so they traded Marin to the Houston Rockets for hall of famer Elvin Hayes. He continued to post quality numbers in subsequent years with Houston, the Buffalo Braves (which then moved to San Diego an eventually to Los Angeles as the Clippers), before finishing his career with the Chicago Bulls. Over 11 years with four teams, Marin concluded his career with 12,541 points, 4,405 rebounds, and 1,813 assists, and played in a pair of all-star games in 1972 and 1973. Although steals and blocks were not counted as official statistics until mid-way through his career Marin totaled 155 steals and 59 blocks.

Marin entered his 11th season--1976-77--of professional basketball in the final year of his contract. Considering retirement, he contacted the administration at Duke's law school to let it know he was interested, and after reviewing his LSAT scores and undergraduate transcripts, Marin was accepted with open arms.

Following law school, Marin went into a general law practice in Durham. In 1982, through the help of some friends who were principals at his current law firm of Williams and Mullen, Marin ran for the U.S. House of Representatives. He turned to real estate law throughout much of the 1980s, but shifted direction when he saw sports law as a burgeoning industry. After launching a new career as a sports agent, Marin represented professional players overseas as they transitioned from the NBA to the European professional leagues. Most notable among his clients include ACC alums Delaney Rudd (Wake Forest), a capable backup to John Stockton with the Utah Jazz, current Bulls head coach Vinny Del Negro (NC State), Brian Howard (NC State), who spent two years with the Dallas Mavericks and Dante Calabria (North Carolina). "All of these players had long and illustrious careers in European basketball," says Marin. "It was rewarding to see them do so well in a league that boasts of many high NBA draft picks."

Now Marin is a partner at Williams Mullen, a Raleigh, N.C.-based firm where he represents the National Basketball Retired Players Association and lobbies for retired players' interests in collective bargaining agreements. In addition, Marin devotes much of his time to philanthropic causes.

From 1997-2000, Marin served as the executive director of the Celebrity Players Tour, a charity golf tournament featuring renowned athletes and entertainers, and is a board member of Hope for the Warriors, a foundation which helps support severely wounded veterans. During his tenure as executive director of the CPT, Marin expanded the program from five events to 15 in just three years, which annually attracts such athletes and celebrities as Johnny Bench, Drew Brees, John Elway, Jerry Rice, Ray Romano, Mike Schmidt, Emmitt Smith, Joe Theismann, and high school rival Joe Namath. An avid golfer, Marin has won three events, and shoots at two-under par.

Initiated in 2004 by the families of wounded veterans, Hope for the Warriors enhances the quality of life for U.S. Service Members and their families who have been adversely affected by injuries or death in military service through several programs. It's rewarding to be around them and help that organization move forward," says Marin.

Marin is a member of the Duke University Sports Hall of Fame, North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame, and Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame. He currently resides in Durham, N.C. with his wife of 36 years, Robin. They have one son, Jon.