Former Long Beach State men’s basketball forward Glenn McDonald will have his jersey retired at the homecoming game Saturday during a special halftime ceremony.
“I wasn’t here when he played but if he was half the player he is a person, its well deserved,” head coach Dan Monson said. “And I know he was a great player but what a great person, I’m really thrilled for him and his family. Great things happen to great people. He’s been a mainstay on this campus since I’ve been here. I’m excited and honored to be a part of that.”
During McDonald’s time with Long Beach State, he had a career record of 75-9 and won conference championships all four years. After college he was drafted in the first round of the 1974 NBA draft by the Boston Celtics.
Sports came into McDonald’s life at a young age when he began playing track and field and football.
He played for leisure until All-American Johnny Clark convinced McDonald to try out for the basketball team at Jefferson high school.
McDonald recalled Clark telling him, “you know that just might be the best idea. You probably wouldn’t be able to make our C team.”
During tryouts, head coach Larry Hansen was impressed with McDonald as he kept up with the varsity squad and ended up playing as a starting guard.
When McDonald’s junior year of high school arrived, he started receiving interest from different schools such as Maryland, Kansas, Arizona and USC.
“Long Beach just came in out of clear blue, I have never heard of them,” McDonald said.
Long Beach head coach Jerry Tarkanian made visits to McDonald in efforts to recruit him. The Soul Squad, which consisted of black cheerleaders, was also a huge selling point for McDonald.
“When I came [to Long Beach] for my visit, you can see that they incorporated every culture and it seemed like a big family here which is the big reason why I signed with them and they really wanted me here,” McDonald said.
When the 1974 NBA draft came around, he was picked up in the first round by the Boston Celtics.
“To be honest, when it first happened I was so upset. I was excited that I was the first round draft pick but I was upset because it was the Celtics,” McDonald said.
He originally wanted to be drafted by the Chicago Bulls since he grew up in Illinois and was a Bulls fan.
Once he arrived to Boston and met with the team, he changed his mind.
“We started discussing contracts and I saw the banners.” McDonald said. “The people were really inviting and I was able to tell that this was going to be something special.”
It was also a plus for him that the Celtics were winning championships on a yearly basis and he enjoyed the idea of possibly winning a championship with them.
The Celtics were facing off against the Phoenix Suns in the 1976 NBA Finals when starting power forward Paul Silas became the fourth Celtics player to foul out with two minutes to go in the 3rd overtime, and head coach Tommy Heinsohn put in second year player McDonald. He went on to score eight points to help the Celtics beat the Suns 128-126 and win their thirteenth championship.
“It’s unbelievable that I won a championship and to know that I contributed to game five in the third overtime was incredible,” McDonald said. “It all felt like a movie.”
After the championship, he went back to California and got married. When he reported back to the Celtics, he was cut from the team.
The Phoenix Suns got in contact with him and brought him into camp, but the coach decided to release him. His life went overseas when an old coach from Long Beach offered him to play with a team in Sweden.
He played for two seasons and won the Swedish championship both years and represented Sweden in the Europa Cup and took third.
He then signed a contract with the U/Tex Wranglers to be the first NBA player to play in the Philippines.
After McDonald’s career came to an end in the Philippines, he came back to Long Beach and saw an opportunity to be an assistant coach with the women’s basketball team under head coach Joan Bonvicini. Two years later, coach Bonvicini resigned and McDonald would take her place as the head coach.
The team released him in his fourth year and he went on to intramurals in the Student Recreation Wellness Center.
Now he has retired from his position as the Director of Intramurals in the SRWC and still continues to coach young basketball players in a one-on-one setting.