If I asked you where the Indiana Pacers’ head coach attended college, many of you would say, “Who coaches the Indiana Pacers?”
It’s okay. He isn’t exactly Phil Jackson or Pat Riley. Not yet, at least.
But so you know, his name is Frank Vogel and he attended the University of Kentucky after three years of D-III basketball. Vogel ran the point for Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania before deciding to transfer to Lexington for his senior season. The decision to move south came after meeting Rick Pitino, the man who would eventually become his mentor in life, at Five Star Basketball Camp in New Jersey.
Vogel immediately talked his way into a student manager position once he hit campus during the 1994-95 season. The next year, he roomed with Cameron Mills and played point guard for the famed Kentucky JV basketball team. Kentucky was pretty good that year, if you recall. Vogel could even take some credit for the ’96 success because he was responsible for washing those Converse denim uniforms after every game. How ’bout that for a claim to fame???
When Vogel graduated with a biology degree from UK just one month after Kentucky won its sixth title, Rick Pitino asked him to join the staff as the video coordinator for the 1996-97 season. When Rick left for Boston that summer, he took Vogel with him to fill the same role for the Celtics. From there, Vogel would follow Jim O’Brien around the NBA until O’Brien was fired from the Pacers last season, opening the door for Vogel to be named interim head coach to finish out the year. The Pacers earned a spot in the playoffs for the first time since 2006 under his command.
Now, the interim tag is removed, head coach of the Indiana Pacers is his official job title and his team holds a 2-1 lead over the LeBron James and the Miami Heat.
But no matter how Indiana finishes in this NBA postseason, we’ll always know him for washing those Converse denim uniforms. His hands once handled the sweaty threads of Antoine Walker, Walter McCarty, Tony Delk, and Oliver Simmons. Those are the hands of a champion.