John “Helicopter” Humphrey, one of the now-dissolved bj-league’s original stars, has been hired to coach the American Basketball Association’s RDC Vulcans, an expansion squad.
The Vulcans made the announcement on Thursday.
According to published reports, two other expansion teams are also set to join the ABA: the Texas “ATX” Warriors and the Indiana Terminators.
The Vulcans, who are based in Raleigh, North Carolina, are scheduled to open their season in November.
“I am extremely excited to coach,” Humphrey told The Japan Times on Friday. “My problem will be trying to stay off the court. My body feels better than I did my last two years playing.
“I know this game and learned a lot from all my coaches. Every one of them coached a different way for the same goal.”
He added: “I will take what I learned as a player. Different things that happened to me. I will always be a player’s coach. The only thing that will get under my skin is if players don’t play hard.”
He explained why this way: “I took pride in playing as hard as I could every time I stepped on the court.”
What are his goals for his new coaching gig?
“It’s my goal to teach these guys,” he said, “so they can become better pros and get overseas.”
Helicopter hasn’t ruled out a return to Japan in the future.
“I would love to come back to my second home (Japan) and coach one day,” he commented.
After competing as a rival circuit to the NBA in the 1960s and ’70s, the ABA relaunched in 2000 as a far-flung minor league. More than 70 ABA teams are currently in existence.
Humphrey, a Middle Tennessee State product, joined the Tokyo Apache and played for coach Joe “Jellybean” Bryant, Kobe’s father, from 2005-09 in Japan’s capital city. He won scoring titles in the 2005-06 (23.1 points per game) and 2006-07 seasons (25.9).
The high-flying Humphrey boosted his resume with another scoring crown in the 2012-13 season (27.2)while playing for the Saitama Broncos, and repeated that feat the next season with Saitama (23.8).
Humphrey, 35, wrapped up his Japan career during the 2014-15 campaign. He returned to Japan in late January to team up with Bryant, who was hired as midseason replacement to coach the struggling Rizing Fukuoka.
A native of North Carolina, Humphrey, played in the AB on Las Vegas and Boston-based teams under Bryant before his long, successful career in Japan.
He said he’s now ready to serve as a mentor, and he’s fired up about this opportunity with the Vulcans, which, according to the team website, is an acronym for:
V — Venturing to new heights
U — Uniqueness from each individual makes up our team
L — Longevity through health awareness
C — Commitment to the movement
A — Achievement on the court
N — Nourishing natural abilities
S — Service within the community
Humphrey has established his own organization, Commit 2 Achieve, to teach the game as well. Visit his website (www.commit2achieve.org) for more details.
“My company is also doing great, teaching the younger generation the game,” he said.
Note: The bj-league’s teams are set to begin play in the new B. League, which also will feature former NBL and NBDL clubs, this fall.