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  • Writer's pictureJoe Pace

New England Sports 366, #94: Kevin Gamble

Kevin Gamble grew up in the projects in Springfield, Illinois. He went to Lanphier High School, and led the Lions to a 30-3 record in 1983 en route to the Class AA State Championship. He started at Lincoln College before transferring to Iowa. As a senior in 1987, he led the Hawkeyes to a 30-5 record, held the number one ranking for part of the season, and made it to the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament (remember those?). It was Gamble's buzzer-beater against Oklahoma that got them there. They lost to UNLV when he missed another attempt.

The Trailblazers took Gamble in the third round of the 1987 NBA draft. His career in Portland lasted all of 19 minutes on the floor before he was waived and bounced around the CBA and the Philippines. In December of 1988 the Celtics plucked Gamble from the Quad City Thunder of the CBA to help replace an injured Larry Bird. Gamble would be a bench player in Boston until 1990-91, when he started 76 games and scored 15.6 ppg as the Celtics won the Atlantic Division. He didn't play much in the playoffs, then was a starter again for 77 games in 1991-92.

After that his playing time declined (these were not great Celtic teams in the early-to-mid 1990s) and he became a free agent in 1994. He played some for Miami and Sacramento, and retired in 1998, after which he began a college coaching career he continues to this day.

Gamble was not an outstanding pro, just a guy. But there was a time from 1990-94 when I was watching a lot of NBA basketball and a lot of Celtics games that he put in big minutes on the floor alongside Bird, McHale, Parish, and Lewis, and averaged double digit points per game. And we remember with disproportionate fondness the guys from teams like that.

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