boston.com Sports Sportsin partnership with NESN your connection to The Boston Globe

Better than average Joe

Catching up with Joe Kleine

He was loved by the fans serving as a steady performer for five years with the Boston Celtics.

Joe Kleine was never a star, but what made Kleine great was he accepted his role and was ready to play every night. During his time with Boston (1988-93), he was rarely injured playing in over 70 games every season.

“It was awesome,” said Kleine of his experience with the Celtics. “I was very lucky to have been able to play with the Boston Celtics and live in the Boston area for five years. I consider it a great time in my life.”

These days, Kleine, 43, resides in Little Rock, Arkansas with his wife Dana. The two of them have two sons Daniel, 16 and William, 3 and two daughters Courtney, 13 and Mallory, 10. “This is where I wanted to live,” said Kleine. “I went to school in Fayetville and have a lot of friends from Little Rock. I lived here in the summertime when I was in the NBA and got to where we liked it and wanted to raise our family here.”

Kleine is still involved in basketball and helps coach AAU basketball with the Arkansas Wings and Arkansas Bucks.

“I mostly help and am not really the coach,” said Kleine. “I assist them. I like kids and if I didn’t have four I’d be in an insane asylum. I like trying to help them and have something to offer so I try and help them out.”

Kleine has also served as an assistant coach on the USA Men's Junior National Select team.

Working for USA basketball is very special to Klein because he returned after 19 years. He was a member of the 1984 USA Olympic basketball team, which won a gold medal. The team was coached by Bobby Knight and featured Patrick Ewing, Michael Jordan and Chris Mullin.

“It was a great honor for me,” said Kleine about working with USA Basketball. “I was very appreciative of them that they thought enough of me to let me try and help them. I hope that I did help them.”

Outside of basketball, Kleine is involved in the restaurant business. He co-owns a couple of Corky’s Ribs & Barbecue, which are franchises based out Memphis, Tennessee.

“A friend of mine wanted me to go into partnership with him and another gentleman,” said Kleine. “We are all equal partners and jumped in on the first one. It worked out pretty good and we are getting ready to open a second one.

“It’s like having two more kids. It keeps you on your toes because it’s a tough business.”

With the Celtics, Kleine never won a championship, but did have the opportunity to play with the "Big Three" - Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish.

“It was great because of how professional they were,” said Kleine. “They were hard-working, reliable, responsible, would help their teammates and were interested in only winning. They were not premadonnas and they didn’t put themselves before the team. That’s what made it fun.”

Throughout his basketball career, Kleine enjoyed tremendous individual and team success. He won an Olympic gold medal and won an NBA Championship as a member of the Michael Jordan led 1996-97 Chicago Bulls.

Something unique about Kleine is that he had the chance to play with both Bird and Jordan.

“The most remarkable thing about Michael Jordan was the fact that he played so many minutes, played so many games and was injury free,” said Kleine. “I think that’s what puts him ahead of Larry. I think when they are both healthy it’s six in one hand and half dozen the other (on who’s better).”

As far as the current the Celtics, Kleine still follows the team and likes the direction Danny Ainge has the team going.

“I like the draft picks of Tony Allen and Al Jefferson,” said Kleine. “I think those are really going to pay-off. I love Paul Pierce and think he is a terrific player. With the addition of Antoine Walker it’s going to really help them out this year and grow as a team.”


The Kleine File

NAME: Joe Kleine

BIRTHDAY: January 4, 1962

RESIDES: Little Rock, Arkansas

WHERE DID YOU GROW UP: St. Louis, Missouri

ENJOYS: Golfing, spending time with his family

CURRENTLY: Helps coach AAU basketball with the Arkansas Wings and Arkansas Bucks; Co-owns a couple of Corky's Ribs & Barbecue

CLAIM TO FAME: A fan-favorite, Kleine played five years with the Boston Celtics (1988-93)

HIGHLIGHT OF BASKETBALL CAREER: Winning an NBA Championship with the Chicago Bulls

DID YOU KNOW? When Kleine served as an assistant coach on the USA Men's Junior National Select team, he had the opportunity to coach current Celtics rookie Al Jefferson

CURRENT BASKETBALL PLAYER YOU MOST ADMIRE: I love to watch Steve Nash play

GREATEST BASKETBALL YOU PLAYED WITH: Larry Bird and Michael Jordan

GREATEST BASKETBALL PLAYER YOU PLAYED AGAINST: Hakeem Olajuwon

ONE WORD TO DESCRIBE NEW ENGLAND SPORTS FANS: Great

FAVORITE THING ABOUT NEW ENGLAND: City of Boston

WOULD YOU EVER PARTICIPATE IN A REALITY TV SHOW: No

IF YOU COULD CLONE ANYONE, WHO WOULD IT BE: My father

IF YOU HAD ONE WISH, WHAT WOULD IT BE: No more wars

EVER WALK THE FREEDOM TRAIL: I did it in bits and pieces

CLAM CHOWDA OR LOBSTA: Clam Chowder

DO YOU KNOW WHAT A BUBBLER (WATER FOUNTAIN) IS: Nope

CANDLEPIN BOWLING OR BIG BALL BOWLING: Big Ball Bowling

DID YOU WATCH THE RED SOX WIN THE WORLD SERIES. IF YES, WHERE: Absolutely and I was in Little Rock, Arkansas

2005 PICK TO WIN THE NBA CHAMPIONSHIP: I like the Spurs

SEARCH GLOBE ARCHIVES
   
Today (free)
Yesterday (free)
Past 30 days
Last 12 months