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Steve Patterson – 1972-’73 Topps #73

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   Steven J. Patterson (June 24, 1948 – July 28, 2004), of Santa Maria, California, was an American professional basketball player who played in the National Basketball Association for five seasons. A 6’9″/2.06 m center from UCLA, Patterson spent his first year of athletic eligibility (1968-69, the third of the Bruins’ unprecedented string of seven consecutive national titles) as the backup to Lew Alcindor, later Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. He then was the starting center for the Bruins’ 1970 and 1971 championship teams. Patterson was the UCLA center between Lew Alcindor and Bill Walton, and so was part of a string of seven straight NCAA championships the college won. Sidney Wicks and Curtis Rowe were the forwards on the star-studded team, and Patterson had his biggest game, 29 points, against Villanova in the 1971 NCAA Final. Passing up a chance to play for the Phoenix Suns, who drafted him early in 1970, Patterson re-entered the draft. Patterson was the second rookie, after Austin Carr, selected by the expansion Cleveland Cavaliers. He was also drafted by the Texas Chaparrals of the American Basketball Association in the 1970 ABA Draft. Patterson showed ability as an inside defender and rebounder, but also battled knee problems and never reached his potential as a NBA player. He played five years in Cleveland and then one year as a Chicago Bull.
Patterson then went into coaching, eventually becoming the head men’s basketball coach at Arizona State from 1985 through 1989. He was also the chairman of Phoenix’s organizing committee for Super Bowl XXX (1996) and commissioner of the Continental Basketball Association in 1997. Patterson spent the last years of his life organizing youth and community sports programs in Arizona until his death from lung cancer. A life-long Christian, Patterson made faith the core of his post-NBA activities. He died in 2004 and is remembered at The Goal had been his central organization to church-sports activities.


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