Then & Now: Erick Strickland
Compiled By Dave Brandon
(Photo Courtesy NU Media Relations)
Strickland played at Nebraska from 1993-1996, and is
sixth in all-time scoring with 1,586 points. In addition
to being a prolific scorer, Strickland was also a great
defender, as he is second in all time steals at Nebraska
(257) and earned All Big 8 defense honors in three
consecutive seasons. (1994-1996)
being a great basketball player, Strickland also played
some minor league baseball with the Florida Marlins
organization, and currently will get ready to begin his
tenth season in the NBA, having spent time with the
Mavericks, Knicks, Grizzlies, Celtics, Pacers,
recently joined HHC to talk about his times at Nebraska,
and update us on his current situation in the NBA.
HHC: First off, we want to start by telling you
that you have made the state of Nebraska very proud, and
its great to have you join us here on HHC.
ES: Hey man, no problem, and thank you. I’m
happy to do this.
HHC: We've been talking a lot about Nebraska
high school basketball on our site in recent weeks, and
you obviously had a great career at Bellevue West in
that great class of 1992. We know you’re far away from
high school basketball now, but do you feel that a lack
of Division One players being produced in the state has
hurt the Huskers in recent years?
ES: Yes, I think that it has hurt a little bit,
but I also think that they haven’t attacked the talent
pool the way they did when Danny Nee was there. I mean,
I know there hasn’t been a huge number of D-1 kids
recently, but I think that more so than not, Creighton
has been more aggressive at taking the local kids and
trying to do something with them. However, recruiting
wise at Nebraska, I think they did a good job this year
and will continue to do so; I really think that a lot of
those guys will pan out.
HHC: So will there ever be a class like 1992
again coming out of Nebraska?
ES: (Laughs) Aww man, its hard to say. I would
like to hope so, but you know, we all just got together
that year and said, “Hey, let’s stay home. Let’s build
something that nobody else has done.” And I thought that
we did a good job of that. So, if you get another
talented bunch of guys that know each other and respect
each other and want to do that, then its possible. But
who knows when that will be.
HHC: Yeah, it can be tough to judge when
you'll get great classes like those. In your freshman
year of 1992-1993, you guys made the school's third
consecutive NCAA tournament appearance. However, we
really want to hear more about your sophomore season.
Talk about the magical year of 1993-1994 when you won
the Big 8 tournament and made the school's fourth
consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance. What things do
you remember most about that season?
ES: Aww man… Well, I just really remember
the hunger of everybody that summer. Everybody stayed
that summer, got in the gym, played ball all day, and as
a result, we really gelled. I think we really took it to
heart that we were going to be special and work hard and
compete. We just decided to take care of our home, and
once we took that stand, it was just like, “Nobody is
going to stop us.”
remember at the start of that year, we came out in a
tournament and fought off a real good Michigan team with
the Fab 5. We actually should have won that game, and
several others along the way. But either way, we just
made sure that we weren’t going to settle for any short
cuts - We were going to play and dominate in areas that
we were strong in.
HHC: As a team, your junior season was
a little bit of a disappointment to many, as you made
the NIT and won 18 games, but fell short of the NCAA
Tournament. Many outsiders at the time said that this
team had a chemistry problem, and perhaps had some
clashing egos. What is your response to this?
ES: Yeah… I thought that too. I felt that
we didn’t reach our potential and it was because we had
a lot of inside turmoil. We did a bad and poor job of
establishing our roles for our team, and… I guess we
just really didn’t come together as a unit that year.
Leadership wise, we were young and didn’t really have
any great leadership on that team. We had lost a lot of
seniors, and guys were trying to establish leadership
roles, but we just didn’t establish them very well.
HHC: 1995-1996, which was your senior
season, is one of the most memorable in Nebraska history
for a couple of reasons. Before we get to the positive
part, talk to us a little bit about the Danny Nee
walkout. What do you remember about it, and in
retrospect, do you regret it?
ES: No, I don’t regret it. Actually, people
don’t really understand what happened with that. We
weren’t trying to cause uproar or controversy or
anything of that sort. It was actually a day that was
going to be an off day anyway, and he had ended up
calling a practice. But the players, we wanted to get
together and find out what the heck was going on,
because we knew we were better than what we were
really aired out a lot of things and found out what
people felt, as far as perceptions of the team and
coaching staff. And we came to find out that a lot of
the problems and controversy that was going on was led
by the coaching staff themselves.
like, players would have concerns, and they would voice
them to coach, and then coach would play those concerns
off to other players, and basically it started pitting
us against each other. The coaching staff would say,
“Well, I understand what you’re saying,” and then your
teammates would find out that others went into talk
about them or the situation… It was really wild.
found out all that stuff, we just said, “Screw it man,
lets go out here and just finish our season off. We
don’t care about coaches and what people are saying,
lets just go out here and play man.”
for me that was one of the lowest points of my life,
because I literally almost quit playing basketball. I
was just so disappointed with people’s work ethic and
how we were just letting everything fall apart.
HHC: Not a good situation, huh?
ES: Yeah, not at all man. (Laughs) And sorry
about going off on a tangent about that.
HHC: No, the more, the better. During that
same year, you guys overcame all odds and ended up
winning the NIT title. Talk to us a little bit about
what you remember, and which was more gratifying to you,
winning the Big 8 tournament in 1994, or the NIT in
ES: I think both of them were equal. The Big 8
was awesome, because it was a first for the school and
just an exciting accomplishment. But the NIT was also
great because we came together after having a horrendous
season, and we weren’t able to put it all together in
the Big 8 tournament that year, but we still didn’t
quit. And, we made something out of nothing, and when I
say nothing, it was really nothing.
basically came out of nowhere for that NIT. I don’t even
know if we should have been in the tournament to begin
with, that’s how bad we were. It was really nice to see
us come together though at the end of that time, and we
just wish we had more time to do it all over again and
do something else different, but since we didn’t, that
was a nice way to end the season and my career.
HHC: Danny Nee was a textbook character, and we
ask every player we interview for a classic Danny Nee
story. Can you think of a funny story or two to add to
our ongoing list?
ES: Hmmm… (Laughs) Well, I’d probably say my
favorite memory of him was when Eric Piatkowski had a
party that we all went to. I think it was after we won
the Big 8 tournament, and EVERYBODY was there, including
all the coaches and Nee. Well at the party, we started
giving out Danny Nee ties, and he was just so happy. He
just hung out with us, and we all just had a ball
together. (Laughs) Man, those Danny Nee ties on all of
us were just so funny.
HHC: Roy Williams wore them for years!
Talk to us about the Michael Jordan you have in you, as
you have played both professional basketball and
baseball for the Florida Marlins organization. What does
baseball mean to you now, and how much do you miss it?
ES: To be honest, it meant a lot to me,
actually, because I got to do something that a lot of
people at first didn’t think I could do. I mean, after
playing one season of it after my senior year of college
and making it, and then having a chance to play more, it
was just a very good experience.
about baseball… I think what I take from it is that I
look back and see all the players I played with in the
minors, and some of them are still in the big leagues.
To see them be successful and to know that I played with
those guys is a very gratifying thing. There were a
bunch of guys, such as Edgar Renteria, who won a
championship with the Marlins, and at the time I played
with him, he was only 16 or 17, but you could tell he
was special. I played with Tony Sanders, who is the guy
who played with his arm out of socket when he was
playing with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Dave Berg, I’ve
seen him somewhere recently. And I played against Johnny
Damon, who was always a hard out. He’d hit the ball to
shortstop, and you could barely get him out, not too
mention he used to hit so many home runs it wasn’t even
funny. Dmitri Young of the Detroit Tigers was another
just awesome man, and still is, just seeing those guys
go through and make their way. It’s real gratifying for
me to follow them.
HHC: You've obviously had a very
successful NBA career, as you are about to begin your
tenth year in the league. Which teams do you have the
best memories playing with, and who are your best
friends in the league?
ES: Dallas and Boston were great years for
me, so I guess they stick out. Across the league, I’m
real good friends with Paul Pierce, Michael Redd, and
HHC: What about Pike, Mikki, and Tyronn?
ES: Aww yeah man, yeah! Pike and I, we get
together and play golf all the time. I talk to Tyronn a
little bit too, although he moves around so much that I
haven’t seen him as much lately. I saw Mikki when he
came down to Dallas to work out, but I probably talk to
Pike more than I talk to any of them. And from college,
I still talk to Jamar Johnson, Terrance Badgett, a lot
of those guys.
league though, it’s kind of weird, because it’s like a
little fraternity. Some of your teammates you’re close
to, and some of them you’re not. And, when you leave a
team, its tough to stay as close as you were with those
guys, since you were with them all the time. But, I
still stay in touch with the people who are most
important to me.
HHC: Finally, talk to us about where Erick
Strickland will be playing this season, and how many
more years do you hope to keep playing?
ES: I’m in Dallas right now in camp, and
actually pulling up to the team hotel as we speak. Here
are the keys, thanks.
HHC: What’s that?
ES: (Laughs) Sorry, I just parked my car. But
anyway, I don’t know how much longer I’ll play, we’ll
see, but maybe three or four years. Time will tell.
HHC: Any dreams of coming back to the
program at Nebraska someday in any capacity?
ES: I mean we’ll see, I’ll have to play it
all by ear, because somebody may want to hire me here in
the league. If not, my heart is still with Nebraska, and
we’ll play that by ear as time comes.
HHC: Awesome. We’ll let you go hang with your
teammates at your hotel, and thank you for taking the
time to join us. Are you cool with taking some e-mails
from Husker fans if we set you up an e-mail account
through the site at
ES: Yeah, no problem, that’s cool. And