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He was a member of the 1984 USA Olympic Team.  He was one of 2 players acquired from the Sacramento Kings in exchange for Danny Ainge, a trade I really disliked when I was younger.  While on Phoenix he was affectionately referred to by teammate Charles Barkley along with Danny Schayes as "Schleine" (a good name but not as much as I liked Carluis Scolandry, the combination of Carl Landry and Luis Scola).  He actually won a championship ring with the Bulls in 1998.  I'm talking about Joe Kleine.

The 7'0 Kleine was a McDonalds High School All American and began his college career at Notre Dame but would transfer to the University of Arkansas after 1 season.  After winning a gold medal with the 84 Olympic Team he became the 6th pick in the 1985 draft by the Sacramento Kings, drafted ahead of Chris Mullin, Detlef Schrempf, Karl Malone and Joe Dumars.  He would play 3.5 seasons for the Kings before being traded to the C's on February 23, 1989 along with Ed Pinckney for Danny Ainge and Brad Lohaus

He'd play 4.5 seasons with the Celtics, never living up to his status as a #6 pick.  His highs in points and rebounds were for the 28 games he played with Boston in that 1989 season, when he averaged 6 and 5.  He was a serviceable back-up, a legit big-man unlike today's players.  He had a decent mid-range shot.

After the 1993 season he signed on with Phoenix where he'd team with Danny Schayes to be known as the 2-headed monster "Schleine."  That was when Phoenix had a dynamite team, signing Danny Manning and Wayman Tisdale and adding them to a team that already had Barkley, KJ, and Dan Majerle.  He'd play with the Suns for 3.5 years until being traded to the Flakers with Robert "Towel-Throwing" Horry for Cedric Ceballos.  He'd play just 8 games for LAL before being traded again to the Nets.  Somehow I don't have the animosity for him as I did for these 2 clowns
He'd finish out that 1997 year for the Nets before signing with the Bulls for the following season, following in the footsteps of James Edwards and Robert Parish, who had played that role of 3rd aging center on the previous 2 Bulls title teams.  He would win a ring that year with the Bulls although he wasn't on the playoff roster.  The highlight of that season for Joe was undoubtedly this moment, where he's able to hit a free throw to give the Bulls 110 points and give the fans free tacos:



Kleine would play 2 more seasons after that, the lockout-shortened season of 1999 with Phoenix and then the 2000 season with Portland, where he hoped to get one more chance at a title.  And if not for a 4th quarter collapse of the ages against the Flakers in the Western Conference Finals (for a Portland team that was really talented) he probably would have.

Joe Kleine: Poland Springs Spokesman
I just never cared for him on the Celtics.  He was more serviceable than, Lohaus, Mark Acres, or Stojko Vrankovic.  The Celtics moved Ainge which made sense, to allow Reggie Lewis to blossom.  But to acquire Kleine and Pinckney for him, well, I just feel the Celtics could've gotten a better player who could've contributed more.  [Tangent time: don't get me wrong, Pinckney was alright (I always used to love how he'd cover his mouth when coughing or yawning lol).  A couple of seasons he was a beast on the offensive glass.  But he was inconsistent in his own right.  I feel Kleine and Pinckney were great college players who never could reach the level in the NBA of being more than mediocre bench players].  In my opinion, Joe would be much more coveted in today's watered-down NBA, where solid LEGIT big men, who are actually 7'0, are hard to find.  If Joe played in today's league no doubt he'd would've been more valued.  And if you don't believe me, ask Todd MacCulloch
 
Today Kleine is an assistant coach at the University of Arkansas Little Rock, or the college of my most hated NBA player today.  He lives in the area with his wife Dana and 4 children: they have two sons Daniel, 21 and William, 8 and two daughters Courtney, 18 and Mallory, 15.  Outside of basketball Joe owns a couple of Corky’s Ribs & Barbecue, which are restaurants based out of Memphis, Tennessee.

For a list of all the "What the Hell Happened To" Series please click here

tb727 4/12/2010 10:05:00 AM Edit
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22 Responses so far.

  1. JR says:

    It's hard for me to judge what value the Celtics could have gotten for Ainge at that time, because I was still young, but I actually was fine with the trade. Maybe because I was a Pinckney fan and thought Kleine was an upgrade over Acres as Parish's backup. I liked Kleine as a Celtic as he gave his all out there. And obviously if anyone has read my recent posts, effort is big to me.

    This is a very well done piece TB. Lol at "Schleine." I want to go to his rib joint!

  2. Bohemian says:

    Wow! Joe "Wardrobe" Kleine, probably the least flexible and athletic center ever. I never liked him, though. I was happier to have Pinckney, he was more valuable than Joe. The only good thing about Joe was that he at least tried. I would say he had the hands of Mark Blount, the vertical jump of Brian Scalabrine and the athleticism of Patrick O'Bryant :D

  3. Anonymous says:

    Love these

  4. tb727 says:

    Even at that time JR, I bitched about the deal- at all of age 10 lol. I just liked Ainge; he was coming off a year as an all- star and I feel they could've gotten more for him. Granted no one liked dealing with the Celtics back then, always afraid to be on the short end of one of Red's steals.

    Still it's like with Paul and Collison in New Orleans. One is gonna get dealt, let's see if they get guys back for whoever that are better than Pinckney and Kleine.

    And wow Bohemian your line "I would say he had the hands of Mark Blount, the vertical jump of Brian Scalabrine and the athleticism of Patrick O'Bryant"- I should incorporate that back into the article haha...

  5. Jenda says:

    4th quarter collapse as brought to you by no other than 'Sheed. lol

  6. tb727 says:

    Yes Jenda Sheed was part of it lol. But so were Scottie Pippen, Arvydas Sabonis, and Steve Smith, all better all-time players than Sheed. That team was loaded and also had Stoudamire, Augmon, Briant Grant, Schmrempf, Greg Anthony, Shawn Kemp, and Bonzi Wells. The reason they lost? Their head coach was arguably the worst of all time.

  7. JR says:

    Sort of surprised you ranked Sabonis and Smith ahead of 'Sheed. I thought you viewed 'Sheed higher.

    I think Bill Russell, Denzel Washington, and Joe Klein will all have full heads of hair even at the age of 95.

  8. Jenda says:

    I was just joking. And you forgot Jermaine O'Neal! He is also worth mentioning. Lol at the picture of him and 'Sheed vs Shaq. They look like little boys against him.

  9. tb727 says:

    Sabonis without question; I'm also taking into account his play before the NBA where he was pretty much the best center in the world. I give Smith a slight edge because at one point, him and Alan Houston were like the 2 best 2 guards in the league. Don't think Sheed's ever been a top 2 power forward at any time of his career, since Duncan and KG were always playing...

  10. JR says:

    Yeahand Brian Grant was traded in a 3 way for Shawn Kemp so they didn't have both. :P lol.

  11. JR says:

    I also believe that 'Sheed had something to do with Cloakley blowing the Senate race to Scott Brown. ;)

  12. tb727 says:

    Ah right they had O'Neal before they traded him for Dale Davis. Knew I was forgetting someone- that lead was STACKED. May be the most talented I can think of NOT to win it all...

  13. JR says:

    I think I'm going to get a cat today and name him "Arvidas"

  14. tb727 says:

    That's a great cat name!!

  15. Bohemian says:

    By the way, once and again: awesome article TB. I absolutely love these WTHHT's

  16. tb727 says:

    Haha thanks Bohemian, glad you enjoy them. I love writing them as well.

  17. Anonymous says:

    OMG...I am just reading this article for the 1st time. I LOVED Joe Kleine!!! He had a great team ethic & was the team cheerleader on the bench. He may have gotten a raw deal with no real minutes etc...but he was a much better player than Mark Acres or Brad Lohaus. I would have taken him as Chief's back-up anyday!! :)

  18. steve burnham says:

    joe, his wife dana and another couple were sitting at a table by the bathroom at bonefish grill one night when an attractive brunette came up to me and asked directions to the bathroom. i said go to joe kleine and take a left. she responded "what's a joe kleine". i shared that with him at his roast and he laughed and laughed. joe is a great guy!

  19. tb727 says:

    That's awesome Steve! Great story, thanks for sharing.

  20. ChandlerPol says:

    Kleine constituted a shooting threat from outside and he played hard; ideally, one would prefer a center with greater athleticism, leaping ability, and all-around skill, but Kleine proved serviceable as a reserve or platoon center, hence his fifteen-year NBA career.

    In retrospect, one would have desired to receive a starting-level big men in exchange for a twenty-nine-year old Danny Ainge, but starting guards (even All-Stars, which is what Ainge had been in 1988) don't usually fetch starting big men (unless you were trading with the Washington Bullets/Wizards in the late 1990s, when they swapped a young Rasheed Wallace for a veteran Rod Strickland and a young Chris Webber for a veteran Mitch Richmond). The Celtics obviously wanted relatively young backups for their aging front line, hence Kleine and Pinckney, and Boston not only sought to make room for Reggie Lewis on the perimeter, but also Brian Shaw. By the '90-'91 season, young perimeter players named Shaw, Lewis, and Kevin Gamble were all starting for the Celtics, providing speed, a renewed transition game, and much of the fuel for a club that would win 56 games (second most in the East) despite 22 missed games from Larry Bird and 14 missed contests from Kevin McHale. With Ainge still around, perhaps Shaw (whom Boston later swapped for Sherman Douglas, a talented if flawed point guard), Lewis, and Gamble would not have blossomed simultaneously and the Celtics may not have drafted athletic perimeter players named Dee Brown and Rick Fox early in the decade. Thanks largely to Shaw/Douglas, Lewis, Gamble, Brown, and Fox, along with the depth that Kleine and Pinckney provided in support of Parish, McHale, and Bird, Boston remained in the upper half of the Eastern Conference playoff bracket for the first four years of the nineties, prior to Lewis' tragic death in July 1993.

    So while I'm not necessarily suggesting that the Ainge trade proved worthwhile, it wasn't the disaster that some folks have imagined.

  21. ChandlerPol says:

    Kleine constituted a shooting threat from outside and he played hard; ideally, one would prefer a center with greater athleticism, leaping ability, and all-around skill, but Kleine proved serviceable as a reserve or platoon center, hence his fifteen-year NBA career.

    In retrospect, one would have desired to receive a starting-level big man in exchange for a twenty-nine-year old Danny Ainge, but starting guards (even All-Stars, which is what Ainge had been in 1988) don't usually fetch starting big men (unless you were trading with the Washington Bullets/Wizards in the late 1990s, when they swapped a young Rasheed Wallace for a veteran Rod Strickland and a young Chris Webber for a veteran Mitch Richmond). The Celtics obviously wanted relatively young backups for their aging front line, hence Kleine and Pinckney, and Boston not only sought to make room for Reggie Lewis on the perimeter, but also Brian Shaw. By the '90-'91 season, young perimeter players named Shaw, Lewis, and Kevin Gamble were all starting for the Celtics, providing speed, a renewed transition game, and much of the fuel for a club that would win 56 games (second most in the East) despite 22 missed games from Larry Bird and 14 missed contests from Kevin McHale. With Ainge still around, perhaps Shaw (whom Boston later swapped for Sherman Douglas, a talented if flawed point guard), Lewis, and Gamble would not have blossomed simultaneously and the Celtics may not have drafted athletic perimeter players named Dee Brown and Rick Fox early in the decade. Thanks largely to Shaw/Douglas, Lewis, Gamble, Brown, and Fox, along with the depth that Kleine and Pinckney provided in support of Parish, McHale, and Bird, Boston remained in the upper half of the Eastern Conference playoff bracket for the first four years of the nineties, prior to Lewis' tragic death in July 1993.

    So while I'm not necessarily suggesting that the Ainge trade proved worthwhile, it wasn't the disaster that some folks have imagined.

  22. tb727 says:

    It's an interesting perspective ChandlerPol and while I do agree with you in that AInge being moved enabled Lewis and Gamble to flourish more, the bottom line was Ainge was very good and was an All Star in 88. As a 10 year old kid at the time I was convinced they could've gotten more for him. I'd have to thoroughly review all the rosters from back then to see.

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