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Valley Journals

Veteran NBA coach aims to teach fundamental skills to local kids

May 10, 2017 09:59AM ● By Travis Barton

Murray resident Barry Hecker is sharing his 40+ years of coaching experience at a local basketball camp. (Barry Hecker)

By Carl Fauver | carlf@mycityjournals.com

 

On Saturday, May 6, a 43-year basketball coaching veteran will wrap up his first-ever skills clinic at the Murray Park Center. 

For Barry Hecker—who now lives in Murray—this is just the latest venue in a skills development career that has taken him to Africa, China, Holland, three NBA franchises, Westminster College, West High School (in Salt Lake) and elsewhere.

The Harlem Globetrotters have nothing on this guy.  Like them, it seems he’s been nearly everywhere.

“I enjoy teaching the game,” Hecker said. “Fundamental basketball skills are just not being taught anymore.  Most kids just want to play, but not work on shooting technique and other skills. I like working with the few who do want to improve their technique.”

Hecker began his basketball odyssey after graduating from Frostburg State College (now a university) in Maryland. 

After a few brief stops in Virginia and Holland, Hecker moved to Utah in 1976 to become the head basketball coach at Westminster College.

“I know I had been in Utah at some point before then, but not for very long,” he said.  “It didn’t take long after moving here to fall in love with this place. In fact, I’ve pretty much maintained a home here ever since, even though I’ve traveled all over.”

After two years at Westminster, Hecker moved over to West High for six years. Then it was on to the NBA.

“I was with the Cleveland Cavaliers, as their player personnel director, from 1984 to 86,” Hecker said. “Then I moved to the Los Angeles Clippers for 12 years, first as the player personnel director and then as an assistant coach.”

Hecker was on the sideline for three games in the 1997 playoffs, when the Utah Jazz swept his Clippers out of the post season, as they advanced to their first NBA finals.

Hecker’s long and winding career finally took him to the Memphis Grizzlies from 2008 to 2013 before he finally packed it in, and moved back to Utah.

“Coaches don’t often retire,” he said. “When head coaches change, assistants usually do also.”

Although Hecker is wrapping up his first basketball camp in Murray this weekend, he’s hosted similar events across the globe.

Older Jazz fans will recall the pre-Stockton and Malone era, when Adrian Dantley was their biggest star. Hecker ran his basketball camp for 13 years.

“A.D. went to DeMatha (Catholic High School, just outside Washington, D.C.) where he was taught basketball fundamentals,” Hecker said.  “I enjoyed working his camps.”

Dantley was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008.

Hecker decided to host the Murray camp after assisting with the Murray ninth-grade basketball team for the past two seasons.

“Our team finished alone in first place two years ago, and tied for first this past season,” he said. “After helping with that team, I thought a basketball camp like this one would be good for players in our area.

“I like to help kids develop skills they don’t have. For example, no one takes hook shots anymore, even though they allow players to get a shot up from anywhere. Those are the kinds of skills more kids need to learn.”

Hecker has also invented an apparatus to help basketball shooters develop a better technique.  He calls his Get It Up Shooting Hoop, “one of the best training aids I have ever used for teaching the technique of shooting a ball with the proper arc.”

Hecker has marketed the device to schools from Connecticut to California, including Weber State and Utah, locally.

Living with his wife of 17 years, Terri (a ski instructor at Brighton Ski Resort), the 69-year-old Hecker says he’s probably found his final landing place.

“I have three kids and two grandkids,” he said. “I enjoy keeping in touch with them.  But I’m sure I’ll also remain active in basketball, in some way or another.”

 

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