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Original Issue

Larue Martin The top pick of the '72 draft has overcome his descent into hoops infamy

Every summer LaRue Martin watches young athletes make the jump
from high school to the NBA and can only shake his head. "I wish
they would stop drafting these kids," says Martin, who was the
No. 1 pick in the 1972 draft, by the Portland Trail Blazers,
after a stellar career at Loyola (Chicago). "They can't possibly
understand the value of going to college and getting that

Martin certainly does. After averaging 18.2 points and 15.9
rebounds as a 6'11" center in college--and being drafted ahead of
such future NBA standouts as Bob McAdoo and Paul Westphal--he
scored only 5.3 points per game in four seasons as a pro and then
called it a career. "I'd had enough," says Martin, 54. "I wanted
to try something else."

Cut by the Seattle SuperSonics in 1976, Martin, who had graduated
with a B.A. in sociology, went to work in Nike's marketing
department. In '87 he moved to the United Parcel Service, first
as a driver, then getting promoted to customer-service
representative before eventually taking his present assignment as
a community-services manager in Chicago.

For years Martin avoided drawing attention to his basketball
days, but now he recalls those experiences while promoting UPS at
fund-raisers. "When I was younger, all the attention probably
bothered me more than it does now," says Martin. And his
basketball career? "It still bothers me that [I was considered a
bust]," he says. "But it was one of those things, and I don't
have any regrets." --Chris Mannix

B/W PHOTO: AP BUST A MOVE Martin's star was short-lived, but he's had a long,happy career with UPS.