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Basketball: Panthers alum Gondrezick entering Colorado Sports Hall of Fame

  • Glen Gondrezick (shooting) helped lead UNLV to its first Final...

    UNLV Sports Information

    Glen Gondrezick (shooting) helped lead UNLV to its first Final Four appearance in 1977 after a stellar career at Boulder High.

  • Following his professional basketball career, Glen Gondrezick spent nearly two...

    UNLV Sports Information

    Following his professional basketball career, Glen Gondrezick spent nearly two decades as UNLV's radio color commentator before he died at the age of 53 in 2009.

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BOULDER — The Gondrezick family always has been a cluster of jokers. None perhaps more so than one of the greatest athletes to graduate from Boulder High School, Glen Gondrezick.

Years after leaving his hometown for the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, and then the bright lights of the NBA, Gondrezick was in the back of a bus preparing to transport the New York Knicks from Madison Square Garden. As recounted by Gondrezick’s son Kelan, who has uncovered more and more of these kinds of stories since his father’s death in 2009, Glen Gondrezick was dared by a teammate to moon a group of suits that included the club’s owner.

Unable to stave temptation, Gondrezick did. He was released the next day.

Yet the short-sighted prank proved worthwhile for Gondrezick. He eventually signed with the Denver Nuggets, allowing him an opportunity to play at home before he finally hung up his high-tops. Gondrezick’s remarkable impact in Boulder sports history will come full circle on Tuesday, when the basketball legend is inducted into the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame.

Gondrezick is part of an induction class that includes Avalanche legend Peter Forsberg, former Rapids star Marcelo Balboa, University of Northern Colorado multi-sport star Frank Carbajal, former Windsor High and Colorado State defensive back Greg Myers, and golf executive Will Nicholson, Jr.

Gondrezick passed away three years ago this month, at the age of 53, due to complications from heart surgery. He had received a heart transplant less than a year earlier.

“I’ve heard quite a few, but that story is always one that struck me,” Kelan Gondrezick said of his father’s moon shot. “It probably wasn’t the best move of his career because he was released the next day. But that’s when he was signed with the Nuggets, so in a way it all worked out. I have tons of stories like that.”

A 1973 graduate of Boulder High, Gondrezick arrived at UNLV just as coach Jerry Tarkanian was taking over the program. He helped lead the Runnin’ Rebels to their first berth in the Final Four in 1977. Gondrezick’s name remains prominent in the UNLV record book, as he ranks eighth all-time in rebounds and 17th in scoring.

Gondrezick was drafted in the second round of the 1977 NBA draft by the Knicks, spending two seasons in New York before returning to Colorado. He spent four seasons with the Nuggets and completed his professional playing career with a stint in Italy. Gondrezick became a fixture with the UNLV program after retiring, serving as the team’s radio color commentator for the better part of two decades.

Yet Gondrezick — whose younger brother Grant was drafted out of Pepperdine by the Phoenix Suns in 1986 — always maintained deep personal ties with Boulder, and the tales of his competitive drive and exploits on the basketball court have become the stuff of legend. Former Boulder boys basketball coach Alan Schulz, a prep basketball teammate of Gondrezick’s, is quick to recall Gondrezick’s brief foray into baseball.

Begged by the Panthers’ coach for years to join the team, Gondrezick finally did early in his senior year, playing his first game the next day. Gondrezick hit a home run in his first at-bat. He did the same in his second at-bat before — cultivating that jokester’s spirit — promptly removing his jersey and leaving the diamond to resume his basketball training.

“He was the best athlete I’ve ever seen in Boulder,” Schulz said. “He was a phenom even when he was 11. What a fierce competitor he was. There was nothing nice about Glen Gondrezick when he was competing. When he wasn’t competing he was very personable. Everyone liked Glen. When he went to UNLV, it didn’t surprise me when he helped get them to the Final Four. He was that competitive.

“This is a really deserving honor–a Colorado Hall of Famer, that’s exactly what he was.”

Follow Pat Rooney on Twitter: @prooney07

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