Dave Meyers has that John Wooden gleam in his eye. He doesn't
carry a rolled-up program while he works, he doesn't lead a Top
20 program or even teach fundamentals as a savvy high school
coach. Meyers, a former UCLA All-America and NBA forward, is in
his 12th year of teaching, leading fourth-graders at Railroad
Canyon Elementary in Temecula, Calif., in reading drills that
won't do anything for their jump shots but might give them an
early love of learning. What, no basketball? "What I learned
from Coach went deeper than basketball," says Meyers.
At UCLA, Meyers thrived under the tutelage of a hoops professor
who savored the virtues of textbook box-outs and crisp chest
passes. Wooden did his coaching at practice, hardly spoke during
games and always left his office door open. "Coach would love to
talk to you about anything," says Meyers. "We wanted to please
him so badly, we played our hearts out."
Meyers played with a zeal that scared opponents. His spidery
arms seemed to reach every rebound, his wiry frame set ferocious
picks, and he recklessly dived on loose balls. After serving as
captain of the 1974-75 Bruins that won the Wizard's 10th and
last NCAA crown, Meyers landed with the Milwaukee Bucks. By the
1979-80 season the Bucks, with center Bob Lanier and guard
Sidney Moncrief joining Meyers, seemed ready to vie for NBA
supremacy. Then in the summer of '80 Meyers walked away. He
missed his wife, Linda, and young children, Crystal and Sean,
and "my church became the focus of my life," says Meyers.
"Lanier says I cost him his championship."
After retiring, Meyers, who had become a Jehovah's Witness in
1977, devoted a lot of time to church work, took a job in sales
for Motorola and started taking night classes in education at
National University. (He already had a degree in sociology from
UCLA.) Twelve years ago he began teaching and has devoted his
energy to family, teaching and church ever since. However, he
hasn't completely forgotten basketball. At the suggestion of his
sister, former Bruins star Ann Meyers Drysdale, he began in '94
to lead children's basketball clinics and has found he enjoys
teaching the game to players ages eight to 12. "You never forget
Coach Wooden's little drills," Meyers says. Still, he favors
teaching the fundamentals of reading over basketball. Has he
retained his playing intensity? "It's still there," says Meyers.
"It just goes into other things now."
COLOR PHOTO: NEIL LEIFER (COVER)
COLOR PHOTO: PETER READ MILLER
"My church became the focus of my life," says Meyers. "Lanier
says I cost him his championship."