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Newman excited to be part of Festival

By Tommy Keeler Jr.

WINCHESTER -- Johnny Newman had a solid college and NBA career and scored plenty of points. The former NBA star still enjoys sports, but what he loves to do as much as anything is to give back to others.

That's one of the reasons Newman is part of this Apple Blossom Festival, where he will speak at today's Wells Fargo Sports Breakfast.

He said he received a call from Eddie Webb, President of the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame, and agreed to come to Winchester.

"I've definitely been enjoying myself thus far," Newman said at the celebrity press conferences on Friday afternoon. "Very nice people here. I have a great escort."

The 6-foot-7 guard/forward spent 16 years in the NBA, from 1986-2002. Newman played for seven different teams during that time.

Newman started out with the Cleveland Cavaliers, before joining the New York Knicks in 1987. It was there he had his greatest success, and he admitted he is still partial to the Knicks when following the NBA.

In his first year with the Knicks he averaged 19.0 points per game in a first-round playoff series against the Boston Celtics. The next season he averaged 16.0 points per game for the Knicks.

Newman also played with Mark Jackson, while on the Knicks, and he said he was happy to see Jackson coaching the Golden State Warriors into the second round of this year's playoffs.

During his NBA career, Newman scored 12,740 points.

Newman said a lot has changed with the game since he played.

"Definitely the physical part of the game has changed," Newman said. "The attitudes of some of the players is different. There's just so many other outside things, that from time to time, that takes away from the basketball part. Back when I played we didn't have all those outside factors."

Newman was also coached by Rick Pitino while in New York, and said he was also recruited out of high school by him. Newman said he was glad to see the success Pitino had this year, winning the NCAA title at Louisville.

Newman played college basketball at the University of Richmond. The Spiders went to the NCAA Tournament two years during Newman's playing career, and he helped lead them past fifth-seeded Auburn in the first round in 1984. Auburn at the time was led by future NBA Hall-of-Famer Charles Barkley.

"Definitely going to the NCAA's for the first time in the history of the school at Richmond will always be near and dear for me," Newman said.

Currently Newman said he stays busy doing different basketball camps, and he works in real estate. He still lives in Richmond, and he also has a mentoring company. Newman said he also works a lot with Henrico Police Athletic League, which is designed to help youths build friendships with law enforcement officers.

Newman said his parents still live in his hometown of Danville, and there are others like them that have helped him through the years. That's why it's important for him to give back as well.

"Just so many people helped me along the way, and I'm in a position to be able to do some of that same for others," Newman said.

Newman said that's why he's looking forward to talking to youngsters today at the Wells Fargo Sports Breakfast.

"It's about having a dream and sticking to it," Newman said. "Little ole me coming from Danville, who would have thought I'd have a 16-year NBA career, scoring a lot of points?"

Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com


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