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Keith Closs talks about drinking away his NBA career

Aug 7, 2011, 9:00 AM EDT


In some ways, it’s wrong to say Keith Closs — a backup center with the Clippers from 1997 to 2000 and was a case study of unfulfilled promise — drank himself out of an NBA career.

That’s because he says he was drinking in junior high, and high school, and college — all while playing basketball well enough to get on NBA radars.

But now four years sober, he admits that it was the drinking that was at the root of the attitude and off the court issues that ended his NBA career. It was at the root of the video most people most remember Closs for, one of him getting beaten up by a Los Angeles gang in a parking lot.

In an interview with Sports Illustrated, Closs was honest about what happened and how bad things got.

“People thought of me as uncoachable with a bad attitude,” he said. “That was the drinking.”

During the 1998-99 lockout, Closs picked up two DUIs. He called NBA headquarters directly for help. Not recovery help but “how do I get out of this?” help. Nevertheless, the league sent him to a rehab clinic in Georgia. It didn’t work….

The viral video? It was drinking that got him in trouble that night in 2000 in the club parking lot. Though the beating looks vicious, Closs says he wasn’t hurt at all and, in fact, played the following night against Portland.

Closs said there was a lot drinking in the NBA. Still is. These are mostly men in their 20s with a lot of disposable income and time. They do what most 20-somethings do when they have time and money. But for some the party doesn’t stop until it’s too late.

  1. edmazeing1 - Aug 7, 2011 at 9:45 AM

    Looks a little out of it in that picture!!!

  2. 00maltliquor - Aug 7, 2011 at 7:46 PM

    A Kieth Closs article, huh? Keeping his legend alive in the hearts and minds of basketball fans everywhere I see… I love articles about irrelevant &/or obscure old school benchwarmers. Let’s get a “Pig” Miller update Kurt! Or how about Frank Brickowski, Larry Kystowiak, Mike Penberthy or Ken Norman! Hell, I’ll even settle for an article on Tree Rollins or Horatio Llamas. Give the fans what they want!!!

  3. cleonslamminsalmon - Aug 7, 2011 at 10:33 PM

    Personally, I’d rather have an update on “Hot Plate” Williams or Charles Shackleford. I’d even settle for Benoit Benjamin or Winston Garland.

    • 00maltliquor - Aug 8, 2011 at 2:36 AM

      Yo! lol, I swear on everything i was 1st gonna mention Charles Shackleford! And Fat Lever, only problem was Shack’ was a real rotation player and even a starter at once! Funny as hell u read my mind, plus Fat was actually a good player. Would’nt have went well over my irrelevant statement, but damn good one! Same with Seadale Threet and Anthony Peeler. UPDATES PLEEEASE!

  4. 00maltliquor - Aug 8, 2011 at 2:44 AM

    God, I love basketball! I miss the old school days man, for real!!!!!!! Ahhh the memories…I just hope todays youth can say the same thing later on in life. Times have definatly changed my old school b ball brother…

  5. jimsjam33 - Dec 28, 2011 at 5:09 PM

    I think Keith Closs could play today and it’s unfortunate he threw his career away . He had talent and potential . He played in China for a few years until 2009 and did very well . This guy could also speak very well and was pleasant to be around when he was sober. The NBA should hire Keith as a ambassador of goodwill and what could have been . Too bad .

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