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Tony Campbell

Sport: Basketball

Born: May 7, 1962

Town: Teaneck, New Jersey

Anthony Campbell was born May 17, 1962 in Teaneck. Big, fast and strong with great hand-eye coordination, Tony was addicted to baseball as a boy and only played basketball when the weather forced him indoors. He began focusing on basketball after 7th grade, when he had a disagreement with his middle school baseball coach. He soon became the star of a travel team, but at the age of 12 was ruled too tall for tournament play at 5’ 9”.

By the time Tony enrolled at Teaneck High School he was playing hoops 12 months a year. As a junior, he led the Highwaymen to the Bergen County championship. As a 6’7” senior, he led Teaneck High to a one-loss season and another county title. Tony was heavily recruited, but he was determined to find the perfect fit for his college career. He was leaning heavily toward Iona because of coach Jim Valvano, but when Valvano left for NC State, Tony turned his attention toward Ohio State. Coach Elden Miller promised him he could play guard—a position he would likely be playing if he fulfilled his dream and made it to the NBA.

Tony joined the Buckeyes in 1980–81 and played all four years. He was a sub as a freshman, but made the team as a swingman his sophomore year. As a junior and senior, he was a first-team All-American, averaging just under 19 points both seasons. One of his most memorable games came against Indiana. Tony scored 38 while Bobby Knight fumed on the sidelines. As he finished his college career, he was hailed as one of the NCAA’s best pure shooters.

The Detroit Pistons took Tony with the 20th pick in the 1984 NBA Draft. Shooting is just part of the NBA game; Tony’s other skills were not quite up to NBA standards, including his ball handling and defense. He served as a backup for three seasons,. He left Detroit as a free agent and was signed by Washington, but failed to make the team. Tony signed with Albany Patroons of the CBA for the 1987–88 season and helped coach Bill Musselman’s team win the championship. Soon after, he was signed to finish they year with the Los Angeles Lakers. Tony ended up playing for Pat Riley’s 1988 Showtime club, which defeated his former club, the Pistons, in the NBA Finals. Tony thus became the first player to win NBA and CBA championships in the same season.

The Lakers left Tony exposed in the 1989 expansion draft and he was selected by the Minnesota Timberwolves, whose coach was Musselman. Musselman gave Tony all the playing time he could handle at the guard position, and he responded with a magnificent season, averaging 23.2 points per game and was fifth in the league in minutes played. Tony averaged 21.8 and 16.8 in the two seasons that followed. The T-Wolves traded him to the Knicks prior to the 1992–93 season. The following year he was sent to the Mavericks with a draft pick for Derek Harper.

Tony played one final NBA season, in 1994–95, with the Cavaliers. He tried to extend his career in Europe but a knee injury finished him as a player. Tony got into coaching in the late 1990s, as well as teaching and counseling. In 2002, he began coaching at Paramus Catholic, and eventually became the school’s Athletic Director. He took a similar position at Bay Ridge Prep in Brooklyn in 2007.


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