Greg Foster has spent more than 30 years in basketball as a player and a coach.
The 53-year-old has been in El Paso and Elephant Butte the past year, enjoying life away from the sport.
“I’ve been going up (to Elephant Butte) since my days at UTEP,” Foster said.
His children grew up at the lake and they often camped there.
For Foster, his love of the outdoors goes back to his youth in Oakland and the Bay area during the 1970s and ‘80s, when his mom Carol taught him how to fish and camp.
“It’s something that I tried to pass along to my kids and my wife’s family too,” he said. “It’s been a good time and my little getaway.”
The 6-11 center arrived at UTEP in 1988 after he spent his first two college seasons at UCLA. While at UTEP, he played alongside future NBA stars Tim Hardaway and Antonio Davis.
Like so many players before him, Foster blossomed under head coach Don Haskins and was a big part of the Miners’ success during the late ’80s.
He averaged 10.9 points and 6.8 rebounds per game during his final two seasons at UTEP and he played in the NCAA Tournament both seasons.
The Washington Bullets selected him 35th overall in the 1990 NBA Draft. He would play 13 seasons in the pros with nine different teams.
He joined the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2000-01 season and earned his only NBA championship ring with Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal.
When Foster retired after the 2003 season, he wanted to stay involved in basketball.
First, he was certified as a player agent with aspirations of representing professional basketball players and other athletes. He also started his own mortgage company.
In 2010, he returned to UTEP as a graduate assistant under head coach Tim Floyd.
He received his degree in multidisciplinary studies the following May and then moved into an assistant coaching role with the Miners.
Foster coached at UTEP until 2013 when he returned to the NBA as an assistant coach for the Philadelphia 76ers.
Over the next eight years, he spent time on the bench as an assistant for the Milwaukee Bucks, Atlanta Hawks and Indiana Pacers.
All of those teams were rebuilding, so Foster never had a chance to enjoy winning like he did during his playing days with the Utah Jazz and Lakers.
Last summer, the thought of taking a break from basketball entered his mind and he returned to El Paso.
The past year has given Foster the time to heal some of the physical injuries that he has suffered over the years as well as take a break mentally from pro basketball.
“I guess the criteria for me, if and when I do go back (to the NBA) is two-fold: knowing the people on the staff and winning,” he said. “Those are important things to me because I want to enjoy it.”
He also has considered a front office job in the NBA. He is aware that scouting could be his first step in that direction.
Until then, do not be surprised if you see Greg Foster on a boat in Elephant Butte looking to catch a large bass.
Since 1997, Steve Kaplowitz has hosted “Sportstalk” from 4 to 7 p.m. weekdays on 600 ESPN El Paso. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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