Sidney Moncrief (1957–)
Sidney Alvin Moncrief is one of the greatest basketball players ever to come out of Arkansas. While playing guard for the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) basketball team from 1975 to 1979, Moncrief was named Southwest Conference Most Valuable Player and went on to help lead the Razorbacks to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) tournament and ultimately to the NCAA Final Four in 1978. After college, Moncrief was picked in the first round of the National Basketball Association (NBA) draft by the Milwaukee Bucks, where he went on to be a five-time NBA All-Star and earn the praise and respect of such NBA luminaries as Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, and Michael Jordan. He was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 2001 and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2019.
Sidney Moncrief was born on September 21, 1957, in a housing project in rural western Little Rock (Pulaski County). His mother, Bernice Perkins, and father divorced when Moncrief was five, and he was raised by his mother on her modest salary as a cleaning woman at Howard Johnson’s. Sidney was the second to youngest child in a family of seven children.
Although he was born in the same month as the federally mandated desegregation of Little Rock Central High School in 1957, Moncrief grew up in a Little Rock area that was still quite racially segregated. However, membership in a Boy Scout troop and hard work in his family’s garden helped Moncrief dodge the crime and drugs of his rough neighborhood. Moncrief played his first official basketball game while attending Dunbar Junior High School in seventh and eighth grade, but he did not make the varsity team until ninth grade at Booker Junior High. Once he enrolled in Hall High in Little Rock, Moncrief made the varsity team and, as a senior, was named to several high school All-American teams.
Upon graduating from high school, Moncrief was recruited by Louisiana State University (LSU), Arkansas State University (ASU), and the UA Razorbacks. Although it was then known primarily as a football school, Moncrief eventually chose UA because it had a new coach named Eddie Sutton who was ushering in a new, exciting brand of basketball. The 6’4″ Moncrief ended up a team member of Ron Brewer and Marvin Delph, and the three players were known nationally as “The Triplets” for their play together. In his autobiography, however, Moncrief notes that the Triplets label was largely media hype and that the three players at the time never really thought of themselves as a special group. In 1977, Moncrief and his teammates won the Southwest Conference Championship, and in 1978, the team made it to the NCAA Final Four. Before his senior year, Moncrief married his girlfriend, Debra, whom he had known since third grade. Eventually they had four sons. In 1979, the Razorbacks again went on to the NCAA tournament, only to lose by one point to Larry Bird and Indiana State University. Bird later praised Moncrief, saying that he had strength, perfect form, and a great understanding of the game.
After graduating in 1979 with a Bachelor’s of Science in physical education, Moncrief entered the NBA draft, in which he was the fifth player chosen overall and the first-round draft pick of the Milwaukee Bucks. At Milwaukee, Moncrief played under Coach Don Nelson and later under Del Harris. In his ten years with Milwaukee, Moncrief averaged 16.7 points per game and over fifty percent in field goal percentage. His tight play also twice earned him the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award. Moncrief came out of a brief retirement to play one season for the Atlanta Hawks. A Milwaukee newspaper poll overwhelmingly ranked Moncrief as the favorite Bucks player of all time, beating out the likes of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Oscar Robertson.
After retiring from pro basketball, Moncrief owned a Buick dealership in North Little Rock (Pulaski County) and another in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) for several years, and he was also an assistant coach for the Dallas Mavericks from 2000 to 2003. He now operates the Back 2 Basics All-Star Basketball Academy for youth, coaches, and wellness training. He operated the Back 2 Basics All-Star Basketball Academy for youth, coaches, and wellness training and was also the head coach of the Fort Worth Flyers of the National Basketball Developmental League. In 2007, Moncrief was hired as the shooting coach of the Golden State Warriors. In 2011, he was hired as an assistant coach of the Milwaukee Bucks, and two years later he became part of the broadcast team for the Bucks for Fox Sports Network Wisconsin. In September 2017, he and his wife launched the Moncrief Career Professional Development Center in Little Rock.
For additional information:
Holt, Bob. “A Defensive Dandy.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, September 18, 2020, pp. 1C, 3C.
Moncrief, Sidney, and Myra McLarey. Moncrief: My Journey to the NBA. Little Rock: August House Publishers, 1990.
Moncrief Game Changer. https://sidneymoncrief.org/ (accessed September 18, 2017).
“Sidney Moncrief.” NBA Encyclopedia. http://www.nba.com/history/players/moncrief_summary.html (accessed June 18, 2014).
Last Updated: 09/18/2017