Monday, June 6, 2011

Former Michigan Coach Bill Frieder Fitting In With A New Crowd

Even though Bill Frieder had success coaching college basketball ( he led Michigan and Arizona State to six NCAA tournaments and was a monster recruiter), he'll always be known for ditching the Wolverines for Arizona State on the eve of the 1989 tournament. I have my own thoughts about Frieder but that's another topic for another day. 

Frieder has stayed around the game since retiring doing color commentary on NCAA games for Westwood One radio. Nowdays, Frieder has a new gig. He helps the Maloof brothers, Joe and Gavin, the owners of the Sacramento Kings, run the Maloof Money Cup, a skatebording contest with four different events, the first being held in New York City and a total prize potentially paying more than $2 million.

Now Frieder doesn't commentate or pick the skaters. He handles the money, makes sure things run smoothly during the contests, and with the Maloofs and general manager Tim McFerran - a former hoops player at Willamette University - helps make business decisions, including on expanding the contests domestically and internationally.

The surprise is that Frieder seems to be a big hit with the skating community and Frieder likes being involved with the event.

Frieder has become friends with many of the skaters who live in the San Diego area, including Pierre-Luc Gagnon, a two-time winner of the Maloof Money Cup Orange County vert title, and Jake Brown, who is best known for his spectacular 40-foot fall during the 2007 X Games.

"When I got into this I knew who Jake Brown was because I saw his fall on ESPN," Frieder said. "I knew who Sheckler was. We had a Ryan Sheckler night our first year up at Sacramento. There was a line all the way around the arena and out the door to get his autograph. It was incredible."

The skaters also seemed to have some kind of special kinship with the old coach.

"Bill Frieder's an amazing guy," Brown said. "He comes from a history of sports, with basketball and stuff, and he's just a great all-around dude."

"He knows sports," said Maloof, who's been a game-changer in pro skateboarding. "Frieder's been around sports his whole life. He understands young people, athletes. The people 40-70 know who he is, but it's the young people that are attracted to Frieder. He just knows how to relate to young people, like he did his whole career, like recruiting basketball players. Skaters trust him."

It's kind of strange that Frieder would be involved in skateboarding with all the young athletes involved, since he never went back into coaching. But he's played the stock market and poker, so anything isn't out of the ordinary for Frieder. 


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