Jim Cleamons, who was born in Lincolnton, NC and moved to Ohio before high school, played nine NBA seasons and later became a NBA assistant coach and head coach, most famously assisting legendary head coach Phil Jackson during three-peats with the Chicago Bulls from 1991 to 1993 and with the Los Angeles Lakers from 2000 to 2002.
A standout at Columbus, Ohio’s Linden-McKinley High after moving from Lincolnton, Cleamons was a four-year starter at Ohio State from 1967 to 1971, beginning his career on the Buckeyes’ freshman team before three years on the varsity.
Playing for legendary coach Fred Taylor, Cleamons scored 1,335 career points in 72 varsity games and capped his career as the Buckeyes’ captain and an All-Big Ten selection in 1971 when the team finished 20-6 and lost in the Elite Eight to Western Kentucky.
A first-round pick of the Los Angeles Lakers in 1971, Cleamons played on a 1972 NBA championship team before helping the Cleveland Cavaliers to their first-ever playoff appearance in 1976 while also earning All-NBA defense honor in 1976. Cleamons later capped a nine-year NBA career that lasted 652 games with the New York Knicks and Washington Bullets (now Wizards).
In 1982, Cleamons began a 34-year coaching career that took him to college at Furman (1982-83), Ohio State (1983-87) and Youngstown State (1987-89) and eventually the pros with the Chicago Bulls (1989-96), Dallas Mavericks (1996-97), Los Angeles Lakers (1999-2004), New Orleans Hornets (2004-06), Los Angeles Lakers (2006-11), Milwaukee Bucks (2013-14) and New York Knicks (2014-16) of the NBA, the Chicago Condors (1998-99) of the American Basketball League and the Zhejiang Guangsha (2011-12) of the Chinese Basketball Association.
Cleamons’ time with Youngstown State and the Mavericks was as a head coach.