The former pro cager returns to the boards as a Jacksonville Giant.
Sports fans may find it hard to fathom that Christian Laettner, a 13-year veteran of the NBA, Olympic gold medalist on the 1992 Dream Team and one of the most successful basketball players in NCAA history, has decided to come out of retirement to play for an ABA team. But it makes sense to him. “I stopped playing [in 2005] because my old body was failing me,” says the 42-year-old Ponte Vedra Beach resident. “But I really missed playing between the lines.” When he learned about the Giants, Laettner talked to the coaching staff about practicing with the team and was eventually offered a spot on the roster for the upcoming season (beginning December 3). With his businesses, including Blue Devil Partners real estate development and the Christian Laettner Basketball Academy, not to mention his philanthropic endeavors and family life, Laettner is too busy to play full time but has committed to play six games this year.Here are a few other facts we managed to score before the buzzer went off.
• People are often surprised to learn that Laettner has lived in Ponte Vedra Beach for eight years. “I’ve been able to keep a low profile,” he says, which is rather ironic considering he’s 6’10½”.
• Laettner shares his oceanfront home with his wife of 15 years, Lisa, and kids Sophie, 14, Summer, 12, and Tor, 5. The family also has a German shepherd (King), “a purse dog” and two cats, which he says “are all bad.”
• He considers his two NCAA championships—in 1991 and 1992—his greatest career accomplishments.
• At his training academy, he offers discounts for residents of Kentucky and Connecticut for “causing so much pain, agony and hate” during his four years at Duke University. (Both teams were knocked out of NCAA championships by buzzer-beater shots he made.)
• In addition to snowboarding in Colorado, North Carolina or “wherever there’s powder,” Laettner loves to fish.• His nickname in college was “Late,” a reference to his last name, not his lack of punctuality. These days, his son has dubbed him “Megatron.” His wife’s nicknames for him, however, “can’t be printed.”
• Laettner plays the piano, guitar and drums and often jams with his equally musically-talented kids. They only play songs by Smashing Pumpkins, “the greatest band in the world.”