Erick Strickland didn’t have the longest NBA career but he is remembered for being a reliable guard off the bench for many teams during his time in the NBA.
Strickland was drafted when he was 18 years old by the Florida Marlins in the 31st round of the 1992 MLB draft. He played two years in the Marlins’ minor league system, his first with the Gulf Coast Marlins and his second with their A- affiliate, the Elmira Pioneers. He led the Pioneers in triples while also finishing second in stolen bases and bases on balls.
Strickland then attended and played basketball at the University of Nebraska. He came off the bench in his first year at Nebraska, starting in six of the 31 games he played. He averaged 7.8 points per game (PPG), 2.0 rebounds per game (RPG), 2.1 assists per game (APG), and 1.5 steals per game (SPG). The team finished the regular season 20-9, placed fourth in the Big 8 Conference, and qualified for the NCAA tournament. The Cornhuskers were the No. 10 seed in the East Region and were promptly eliminated in the first round by the No. 7 seed, New Mexico State University. Nebraska finished the season with a 20-11 record. Strickland finished the season as the Big 8 Freshman of the Year.
The following year Strickland got a bit more playing time as he started in 13 of the 30 games he played in. He averaged 10.7 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 3.2 APG, and 2.0 SPG for the season. The Cornhuskers finished the regular season 17-9, fourth in the Big 8 conference, and made the NCAA tournament as the sixth seed in the East Region. Again, Nebraska would be knocked out in the first round, this time by the No. 11 seed, the University of Pennsylvania. The Cornhuskers finished the season with a record of 20-10.
In his junior year, Strickland finally became a starter as he started in all 31 games he was in. He averaged 16.3 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 4.3 APG, and 2.9 SPG. Nebraska finished the regular season 17-12, seventh in their conference, and missed out on the NCAA tournament. Their overall record for the season was 18-14.
Strickland started in all but one of the 35 games during his final year with the Cornhuskers. He averaged 14.3 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 3.4 APG, and 1.7 SPG. A lackluster season saw the team finish the regular season 16-13, seventh in their conference for the second consecutive year, and miss the NCAA tournament once again. Overall, they finished 21-14. Strickland was named the National Invitational Tournament (NIT) MVP.
Welcome to the NBA
Strickland went undrafted on draft night but caught the eye of the Dallas Mavericks and signed with them as a free agent. In his first year on the team, he started in 15 out of the 28 games he played in. He averaged 10.6 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 2.4 APG, and 1.0 SPG in his first season on the team. The Mavericks waived Strickland in early January 1997, but brought him back a little over a month later on a 10-day contract and then signed him to a normal contract a week later. He surpassed the expectations that were put on him in his first year after going undrafted.
He participated in many more games in his second season, as he started in 19 out of the 67 games he was part of. He averaged 7.6 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 2.5 APG, and 0.8 SPG. Beginning in his second season in the NBA, Strickland was used much more as a spark plug off the bench.
In the shortened 1998-99 NBA season, Strickland played in 33 games while he started in two of them. He averaged 7.5 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 1.9 APG, and 1.2 SPG in the season. The Mavericks went 19-31, this was their ninth consecutive losing season. The following season, however, would bring hope to both Strickland and the Mavericks.
The 1999-2000 season was a career year for Strickland. During that season, he played in the most games in his career up to that point and started in the most games out of any season in his career. He started in 67 out of the 68 games he played, becoming a full-time starter for the Mavericks. He averaged 12.8 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 3.1 APG, and 1.5 SPG, which would all be career-high averages for him. The Mavericks’ record would improve vastly as they went 40-42 in the season, their best record in a decade.
During his tenure in Dallas Strickland averaged 9.8PPG, 3.4 RPG, 2.6 APG, and 1.2 SPG. His first couple of years with the Mavericks was a learning experience for him. In his final year with the team, he produced the best season in his career.
The Journeyman Years
In the 2000 offseason, the Mavericks traded Strickland to the New York Knicks. His time in New York was short-lived as the Knicks traded him to the Vancouver Grizzlies in January of 2001.
He finished off the rest of his season with the Grizzlies before signing with the Boston Celtics in the offseason as a free agent. The team made a playoff run in his only season there as they made it all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals before getting eliminated by the New Jersey Nets. Strickland was used as an energizer bunny off the bench and helped give the team momentum on either side of the court when needed.
The following offseason Strickland signed as a free agent with the Indiana Pacers. He continued his role as a key piece off the bench. The Pacers would make the playoffs but were eliminated in the first round by Strickland’s former team, the Celtics.
He again switched teams during the offseason, this time he signed with the Milwaukee Bucks. The Bucks made the playoffs his first year there but were eliminated in the first round by the eventual NBA Champions, the Detroit Pistons. After his second season with the Bucks Strickland called it a career and retired.
After finishing his time on the court, Strickland served as the Mavericks’ manager of business relations for three years, ensuring brand awareness, keeping in touch with sponsors, and helping out in the community whenever he could.
During the 2012-13 season, he was an assistant coach at his alma-mater, Bellevue West High School. The following season he took an assistant coaching job at New Mexico Highlands University, where he coached for one year.
He has had different business ventures since then, including working at a tax company, then at a sports analytics company as the director of basketball operations, and then as the chief operating officer.
Since January 2022, he’s been an on-air host at 93.7 The Ticket, in Lincoln, Nebraska, where he talks about different sports topics with his co-host.
Strickland was a productive guard who was able to help on both ends of the floor. His energy off the bench helped his teams keep the momentum going even when the starters were out of the game. Even though he never won the big one, his hard work was rewarded with two awards during his college years. Even after retiring from the NBA, he’s continued to help others around the community and in life.