Judges before Celtics
Over the years, Brandeis players and coaches have gone on to, or come from, the world of professional sports. Many of those players and coaches were involved in basketball specifically. The Judges have had many great coaches over the years that have helped the team reach success in both the University Athletic Association and beyond, including three former Boston Celtics players who came to campus afterward to become coaches for the Judges.
K.C. Jones was the Brandeis head basketball coach from 1967-70, according to the NBA’s website. According to the website, this was just after he ended his career at the Boston Celtics. Jones was a player on the Celtics for nine season, from 1958-67, before coming to coach at the University. In fact, Jones was a key member of many winning teams. In 1967, Jones traded his status as player to be a coach for the Judges. Jones coached the Judges for three seasons. After his time at Brandeis, Jones became the assistant coach for the Harvard University basketball team and then returned to the world of professional basketball as assistant coach to the Los Angeles Lakers under coach Bill Sharman, also a retired Celtics player.
Following Jones, another former Celtics player, Bob Brannum, took over as the Judges’ basketball coach. Brannum was a Boston Celtics player from 1951-55, according to the Brandeis Athletics website. He also played for the Sheboygan Redskins, and he remained in this position from 1970 to 1986. Brannun retired from basketball in 1955, at which point he began his coaching career. As a college basketball coach, Brannum coached Norwich University, Kenyon College and then Brandeis last, according to his Wikipedia page. Impressively, Barnum led the Judges to the most total victories under one single coach in the University’s history. Per the Brandeis Athletics site, under Branum’s coaching, the Judges won the NCAA Division III Regional Championships in 1978. This is the only time in Brandeis History in which this has occurred. Brannum was inducted into the Brandeis Hall of Fame on Oct. 20, 2001. Unfortunately, Brannum died of pancreatic cancer in 2005.
Many years later, yet another Celtics player became the Judges’ head coach. This player was Chris Ford. Ford coached the Judges for two years spanning 2001-03. According to the NBA’s website, prior to coaching for the Judges, Ford played as a member of the Detroit Pistons and the Boston Celtics for a total of 10 years. He later served as the head coach for the Celtics from 1990 to 1995. In his first season as their coach, Ford led the Celtics to a 55–26 (.638) record and became the fourth first-year head coach to lead a team to the NBA All-Star game. In addition to coaching at the professional level, in 2001, Ford started his career as head coach of the Brandeis Judges for two seasons. After his career as the coach for the Judges, Ford returned to professional basketball and became the assistant coach for the Philadelphia 76ers.
With three professional retired basketball players as coaches for the Judges, the team has had much success over the years.
Despite all of the coaches from professional teams that coached for the Judges, it is also important to recognize the coaches that were not a part of the NBA who have coached the team. The Judges have had an impressive history because of all of their coaching staff, both those who played professionally and those who did not.