“Legend in two games like I’m Pee Wee Kirkland.”
–Pusha T, Grindin’
The name Pee Wee Kirkland means a lot of things to a lot of people. For many people, he was a streetball legend/ New York City OG who did a couple of stints in the prison in the 70s and 80s. But to folks in Norfolk, VA and around the CIAA, Richard Kirkland was once the lightening-fast motor for a high-octaine Norfolk State offense that averaged more than 100 points per game nearly two decades before the 3-point line was added to the college game.
Kirkland’s time at Norfolk State has largely been the stuff of legend for years, but we got a chance to hear from the man himself in recent interview. Kirkland adds to his legend a couple of times in the piece, but what many fans may find most interesting is that he claims that John Wooden sent scouts from UCLA to basically take him from Norfolk State.
“They said Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said you was the best point guard he ever seen,” Kirkland told VLad TV. “We want you to leave and come to UCLA, and next year, you ‘ll be bringing the ball down, but you and Kareem will be playing together for four years. You and him will be drafted 1 and 2. We guarantee that.”
Kirkland, who had already sat out a year after playing at Kittrell (NC) Junior College, asked the scouts how he could play if he’d already sat out another year and he’d have to sit out another.
“They said we don’t recognize this basketball. Which meant, they didn’t recognize black college basketball at the time,” he said.”
“I said, I’m not going,” Kirkland said. “I’m not leaving here.”
Here are four other interesting takeaways from the interview.
He almost followed Earl Monroe’s footsteps at Winston-Salem State
He sacrificed to fit coach Ernie Fears’ system
Kirkland claims he only had only three turnovers all year at Norfolk State
If only tapes of all Norfolk’s games existed.
Norfolk State won the classic CIAA Championship against the North Carolina A&T because they let him take over
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Eagles and Bears square up in O'Kelly Riddick Stadium.