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Catching Up With ... Jack Marin

Each Tuesday in the Toy Department, veteran Sun sportswriter Mike Klingaman tracks down a former local sports figure and lets you know what's going on in his/her life in a segment called "Catching Up With ... " Let Klingaman know who you'd like him to find and click here to check out previous editions of "Catching Up With ... "

When he chose pro basketball over a medical career, folks thought Jack Marin should have his head examined. Play for the bedraggled Baltimore Bullets rather than become a doctor? 

Forty-three years later, Marin has no regrets. The Bullets’ top draft pick in 1966 wouldn’t change a thing. His six years in Baltimore convinced him that it was more fun to take shots on the court than to give them in a hospital.

"I thought I’d play ball for a couple of years to get money for med school," said Marin, a Duke grad who averaged 15 points a game over 11 NBA seasons. "I didn’t know that I’d find the game so enjoyable and challenging.

"I guess I just wanted to be an adolescent a while longer."

Now 64, Marin is a lawyer living in Durham, N.C. While he once battled guys like John Havlicek and Jerry Lucas, he now represents them as outside counsel to the National Basketball Retired Players Association.

A two-time All-Star forward, Marin relished his time with the Bullets, helping the club go from worst to first in three short years. His rookie season, Baltimore won 20 games and finished 48 games off the pace. In 1968-69, the Bullets won a league-best 57 games and took the NBA East.

That team -- forwards Marin and Gus Johnson, guards Earl Monroe and Kevin Loughery and rookie center Wes Unseld -- put the town on the basketball map.

"What chemistry we had," the 6-foot-7 Marin said. "It was fun, up-tempo basketball, to play and to watch. I left after every game, exhausted."

His career highlight? The 1971 division championship series against the New York Knicks, won by the Bullets in seven games. That spring, Baltimore was still reveling in the Orioles’ 1970 World Series victory and the Colts’ Super Bowl title. When the undersized Bullets topped the hated Knicks, fans went nuts.

"Those games were works of art," Marin said. "Perfect matchups, perfect drama. The Knicks had Willis Reed, Walt Frazier and a championship aura. We were less disciplined, the upstarts. Those were chess games, all."

Marin was guarded by New York’s Bill Bradley, later a U.S. senator. Routinely, Bradley tried to rattle Marin by stepping on his toes and yanking at his shorts.

"When he (Bradley) retired from the Senate, I sent a note congratulating him on his service to his country," Marin said. "Then I wrote, 'You were a far dirtier basketball player than a politician.'"

A left-hander, Marin played with a large red birthmark that ran from shoulder to elbow. Self conscious? Not Marin.

"I told people that one night my shooting was so hot that I set my arm on fire."

In 1972 he was dealt to Houston in a trade for Elvin Hayes, who would help the Bullets to a world championship in 1978. Marin holds no grudge.

"I met my wife in Houston," he said. "She wasn’t into basketball. I told her I was with the Rockets. She thought I worked at the space center."

Married 35 years, Marin is an avid golfer, the champ at his country club and a favorite in celebrity tournaments. Last month, he defeated Mickey Tettleton (former Orioles catcher) by three strokes to win the San Diego Celebrity Classic.

Marin also volunteers as a golf instructor at Camp Lejeune, N.C., where he teaches the game to Marines wounded in combat.

"These are veterans who’ve suffered everything from burns to amputations to brain injury," Marin said. "Golf helps these guys get through tough times. Some say they want to be competitive players some day.

"That’s very rewarding."

Baltimore Sun file photos


known as "pinto" because of his birthmark, marin was a terrific player on a very exciitng team to watch. the bullets-knicks rivalry was as good as it gets.

Jack, Appx. 42 years ago you and Charlie Eckman were presenters at an awards banquet for a CYO football league. I recieved an award that night and never forgot. I went on to do contracting work for Charlie, and was quite pleased to read today's article. As fate would have it I'm a JV high school basketball coach. I guess some things come full circle. Thanx for being there.

Great story. I remember going to the Civic Center watching Jack Marin and the rest of the Baltimore Bullets. Those were some great games and the players were underpaid and performed better.

Mike, Thanks for the great read on this Baltimore sports hero. Jack was an important part of that Bullet team and a lot of fun to watch. Some really great basketball back in those days. The Bullets-Knicks rivalry was one of the best of all times. Glad to hear things are going well with him.

P.S. You might want to tell whoever does the web design for this page that there's a problem. If you click many of the categories listed above it (News, Maryland, Sports, etc.), you'll find that the drop down menus are partially obscured by the banner. Just thought you might like to know.

I loved Jack Marin and those battling Bullets. I met Wes Unseld shortly after signing his rookie contract. He visited the Enoch Pratt Library on Park Heights Ave. as his first charitable act. These guy were not only great b-ballers, but people concerned about the community in which they lived. They gave of themselves in unselfish ways that todays citizen, as well as pro athelete, should practice. I've often wondered what came of Jack. As well as the Kicks series, I loved when the Pistons came to town with Dave Bing vs. Earl the Pearl. Terrific article Mike. Keep it coming. Have you followed up on either Russ Snyder or Marty Domres? Jim Karvellas used to say: "You can feel the electricity in the building!"

Although Marin was a decent player, the Bullets certainly got the better of the trade when they acquired Elvin Hayes from Houston.

Thanks for the update on Jack Marin.
The image of him taking his shot from the corner is still fresh in my mind after more than 40 years. Those matchups between the Bullets and the Knicks were classic. Loughery, Monroe, Unseld, Johnson and Marin--what memories.

Thank you all so very much for the wonderful comments. I loved Baltimore and still do. Your comments remind me of why. And, Ray, although you're right about the trade, a good deal of the difference comes from who got to play with Wes Unseld. From that moment forward, Elvin was the lucky one.

I can' still recall Gene Shue screaming, "We beat the Knicks in the garden. We beat the Knicks in the garden. Jack Marin was there. He was cool.

Jack was a terrific ballplayer who always gave 100%. To me, he was more than that. He was also a neighbor and a good friend. I have fond memories of Jack bringing a date to a WCAO Good Guys benefit basketball game.. Glad to see he's doing well and giving back.

As Jim Karvellas also used to say: "BULLSEYE!"

It is great to hear that Jack Marin is doing so well. He was a pure shooter who really complimented the power game of Gus Johnson. What a sweet stroke!

i know he was a great basketball player----but you should know that he is still to this day a great guy-----a good friend and neighbor----still tall---a wonderful golfer---loves Durham----and is fun-very smart--tells great stories--his wife --Robin--is very special--Sandy and I love having them in our lives--just --an up date on Jack "today"
OH--into driving fast cars--a VIR guy-many interesting facets to Jack---a very special person!---love LA

Great article! I admired Jack Marin when he starred at Duke on one of the best teams, 1965-66, in Duke's proud history. He is an even better person than he was a player. I look forward to seeing him every year when he returns to Camp Lejeune to give of his time participating in the golf tournament benefitting the wounded warriors.

As a die hard Duke fan since 1965 I really loved watching Jack Marin play and he was a tremendous player at Duke. What a Duke team that would have been had Bill Bradley not backed out of his commitment to Duke or even yet Fred hetzel coming to Duke. Great to hear that Jack is doing well and good luck in the future.

Ran into Jack and Former Oriole Chris Sabo in a sports bar in Orlando a few years back, the week of the PGA Show. At that time he ran the Celebrity Golfers Tour.
All I did was mention, I was from Baltimore. My buddy (JP Lunn the GM at Holly Hills CC) were treated like kings. Imediately we were invited to join their table. We swapped stories over a few. What a treat.

I remember Jack playing and doing well (winning?) in the one on one contests ABC would televise at halftime.

What is not included in this article is Marin's time playing for the Buffalo Braves. He was very popular with the fans and his nickname was "The Bomber." He played for the great Braves team that included legends like Bob McAdoo, Ernie D, & Randy Smith, when Buffalo was among the four best teams in the NBA and battled hard with the Knicks and Celtics to dominate the NBA East.

More on Jack Marin's days with the Buffalo Braves in the recently published book "Buffalo, Home of the Braves".


I happened to see today a replay of the 1972 NBA All Star game, in which you played (quite well). I remembered you from your playing days, but I didn't remember your birthmark.
I write because my wife has a similar God given "tattoo." It's on her leg, and she gets quite a few comments. I love her attitude, which you share, that rather than something about which to be self conscious, she sees it as a special gift from Above that sets her apart. I think it's quite beautiful, actually.
It's wonderful to see all you've done in the years after your basketball career. Thanks for such contribution to our society, and God bless you and your family.

Glen Davis

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