Mavs From the Past: Steve Alford


During Steve Alford’s high school and collegiate career, he was a star in his home state of Indiana. In 1983, his senior year of high school, Alford earned the Indiana Mr. Basketball award, after he averaged 37.2 points per game (PPG). His team made it to the state quarterfinals later that season.

Alford was part of coach Bob Knight’s 1984 United States men’s Olympic basketball team that won the gold medal, the last collegiate Olympic team to win a gold medal. Knight also ran a basketball camp which Alford attended when he was nine years old.

Alford attended Indiana University and played for the Indiana Hoosiers men’s basketball team, coached by Knight. While at Indiana, he was part of three consecutive All-Big Ten First Teams from his sophomore to senior year, a two-time consensus First Team All-American in his junior and senior year, Big Ten MVP in his senior year, and led the Hoosiers to win the NCAA championship in his senior year. Alford wrote a book about his time in college titled Playing for Knight: My Six Seasons with Coach Knight.

Alford was selected by the Dallas Mavericks 26th overall in the 1987 NBA Draft. He began his stint in Dallas averaging 2.1 PPG, 0.8 rebounds per game (RPG), and 0.8 assists per game (APG). He played in 27 games his rookie season, all coming off the bench, and averaging 7.0 minutes a game (MPG). As part of the Mavericks, he was regularly used as a bench player.

In the following season, Alford began the season as part of the Mavericks but finished it being part of the Golden State Warriors. He played nine games off the bench with the Mavericks averaging 4.2 MPG. In his nine games with the Mavericks, he scored 0.8 PPG, while grabbing 0.3 RPG, and 1.0 APG. On December 13, 1998, a month into the season he was waived by Dallas.

Four days after getting waived by the Mavericks he signed as a free agent with the Warriors. While part of the Warriors his numbers and minutes went up. He averaged 6.3 PPG, 1.2 RPG, and 1.5 APG. He played 57 games with the Warriors and started in three of them while averaging 15.2 MPG. He was released by the Warriors during the offseason.

Later in the offseason on October 5, 1989, Alford returned to the Mavericks when he signed with them as a free agent. In his first season back with the Mavericks, he averaged 4.1 PPG, 0.6 RPG, and 1.0 APG. He came off the bench in all 41 games he played that season and averaged 7.4 MPG.

His following season would be his final one in the NBA. In his last year in the league, Alford averaged 4.4 PPG, 0.7 RPG, and 0.6 APG. He came off the bench in all 34 games he played in while averaging 6.9 MPG. 

As part of the Mavericks, Alford averaged 3.4 PPG, 0.7 RPG, and 0.8 APG. He was used for his basketball knowledge and skills off the bench. Playing time limited the productivity he showed on the court in high school and college.

Since retiring from the NBA, Alford has still kept very busy as a basketball coach for numerous Universities throughout the years. His first coaching job was in his home state of Indiana, coaching the Manchester University Spartans, beginning in 1991. He was able to turn the University’s basketball team around from how bad they were at the time. During his first season as coach, they won four out of the 20 games he coached, and his first eight games as the coach were all losses. Things quickly took a turn for the better in his first full season as their coach as they went 20-8. He followed that up with a 23-4 and 31-1. His record as Manchester University’s coach was 78-29. In his final three seasons there the team NCAA Division III Tournament. In 1994 and 1995 they won conference titles. Alford was named the Indiana Collegiate Conference Coach of the Year for three consecutive years from 1993 to 1995. He was inducted into Manchester’s Hall of Fame in 1999.

In 1995, he became the head coach of Southwest Missouri State University. He coached there for four years posting a record of 78-48. In his final year there as the coach, the Bears made it to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament.

In 1999. Alford was named the head coach of the University of Iowa Hawkeyes. His first game as coach was a win against the defending national champions, the University of Connecticut Huskies. Even though they were able to get a win against the reigning champions, the team went 14-16 in his first season as the coach. The following season was an improvement as they went 23-12 and won the Big Ten Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament. The Big Ten Conference Tournament win earned them a spot in the 2001 NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament as the #7 seed, where they were eliminated in the second round. The Hawkeyes’ record dropped to 5-11 the following season and then lost in the finals of the Big Ten Tournament. The team then played in the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) where they were eliminated in the first round, finishing with a record of 19-16 for the season. They returned the following year where they made it through the first two rounds of the tournament before getting eliminated by Georgia Tech. The team finished 17-14 in the 2002-2003 season after their loss in the NIT.

In the following year, they were eliminated in the first round of the NIT and finished 16-13, with a conference record of 9-7, which was the first Big Ten Conference winning record for the team with Alford as the head coach. In the 2004-2005 season the team went 21-12 and made it to the third round of the Big Ten Tournament before being eliminated. The Hawkeyes were invited to the 2005 NCAA Tournament as the #10 seed where they were eliminated first round by the University of Cincinnati. The following season, the Hawkeyes went undefeated at home, won the Big Ten Tournament, and finished with a 25-8 record. They entered the NCAA Tournament as the #3 seed but lost in the first round in an upset to #14 seed Northwestern State University of Louisiana. During the 2006-2007 season the team went 17-14 but failed to make the NIT and NCAA Tournament, the first time since the 1976-1977 season that a winning Iowa team didn’t make either tournament. At the end of the season, Alford stepped down as the head coach of the Hawkeyes. As the coach of Iowa, he led them to three consecutive NIT and NCAA Tournaments but finished with a Big Ten losing record of 61-67.

Alford became the head coach for the University of New Mexico Lobos in 2007. In his first season as the head coach for the Lobos, he helped lead them to a 24-9 record. They however failed to make it past the first round of the NIT. The Lobos followed up with a 22-12 record the following year and their first conference championship in 15 years. Alford won his first MWC Coach of the Year Award and set the record for the most wins in the first two seasons for a UNM head coach. The Lobos made the NIT for the second year in a row and lost in the second round on a last-second buzzer-beater.

The Lobos went 30-5 during the 2009-2010 season, won their conference championship for the second year in a row, Alford won his second MWC Coach of the Year Award, and UNM became the #3 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Lobos were eliminated in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. In their 2010-2011 season the Lobos went 22-13 and lost to Alabama in the NIT. In the following season, UNM improved going 28-7, winning their conference championship, and entering the NCAA Tournament as a #5 seed. The Lobos would fall in the third round of the NCAA Tournament. In Alford’s final season as the head coach of UNM, he led the Lobos to a 29-5 record, another MWC Title, his third MWC Coach of the Year Award, and entered the NCAA Tournament as a #3 seed. UNM lost in an upset to the 14th-seeded Harvard team, their first NCAA Tournament win in school history. During his tenure at UNM, they went 155-52.

In 2013, Alford signed on as the head coach of the UCLA Bruins. In his first season as the Bruins coach, they went 28-9, won the Pac-12 Championship, and advanced to the Sweet 16 as a #4 seed. Alford’s son, Bryce, was placed as the backup point guard over Zach Lavine, which cause some people to accuse him of nepotism. Bryce Alford became the starting point guard the following season after Kyle Anderson and Lavine got drafted into the NBA. The 2014-2015 season started with four wins in a row before losing five in a row in December. The Bruins would finish the season 22-14 and entered the NCAA Tournament as a #11 seed. They would advance again to the sweet 16 before falling to Gonzaga. 

The following season was a down year for UCLA as they went 15-17, the school’s first losing season in six years. The Bruins failed to make the NCAA Tournament and were eliminated from the Pac-12 Tournament by their rival, USC. A plane flew over the University with a banner that said to fire Alford. Alford apologized for the team’s lackluster season. The following season the team bounced back with a 31-5 record and made it into the NCAA Tournament as a #3 seed. They advanced to the Sweet 16 round for the third time during Alford’s tenure with the team. The following season the Bruins went 21-12 and made the NCAA Tournament but got eliminated in the First Four play-in round. Again a plane was flown over the campus with a banner saying that Alford should be fired. The 2018-2019 season would be Alford’s final season as UCLA’s head coach. Losses started mounting for the team and Alford got fired as the head coach mid-season, the first time the University had done that. Alford’s record for his final season was 7-6, while his overall record as UCLA’s head coach was 124-63

Alford was hired as the head coach for the University of Nevada in 2019, where he is still the head coach. The Wolf Pack has gone 48-40 since he became their coach. 

When it comes to Alford’s family, he has three children, Kory, Bryce, and Kayla. Kory played for his father at New Mexico and UCLA. Bryce played for his father at UCLA.

Alford’s high school and collegiate years were the height of his playing career. While in the NBA he was mainly help off the bench. His vast basketball knowledge came in handy during his long coaching career which is still going on. Alford was awarded for his basketball skills in his younger years and has won awards for his coaching skills in his later years.

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