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Of Bangarangs & Daggers Episode 48: National Champion & Former NBA Player Joins Us

1945 NIT Champion and former NBA player Jack Phelan joins us in a special episode to talk about his playing days with George Mikan

We’re back with another episode of: Of Bangarangs & Daggers. This week I have a very special guest on the show for a special episode. While he is not a former member of the Nebraska Cornhuskers, my Great-Uncle Jack Phelan was kind enough to come on our show anyways and regale us with some truly great stories of his time playing basketball, including winning the national championship in his sophomore season.

As background, he played for the DePaul Blue Demons from 1943-1945 before leaving for the US Navy. He returned to the team from 1947-1949 and continued on to a career in the NBA playing for the Waterloo Hawks and Sheboygan Red Skins. He also played for a host of other teams including the Fort Wayne Pistons who would later move to Detroit and become the franchise we are all familiar with today. During his playing career he was a forward, and played as a back-up center to legendary player George Mikan as they went to New York City and won the 1945 NIT Championship. At the time the NIT title was considered the more prestigious title than the NCAA tournament title. Overall the Blue Demons made the NIT 3 of his 4 seasons playing, making it to at least the semi-finals each time. He also played against the Harlem Globetrotters after his NBA career ended.

I hope you enjoy listening to my talk with Jack Phelan as much as I did getting the opportunity to record this episode. We were able to talk about his time playing during war-time, the early days of Madison Square Garden, what it was like traveling for NBA games as a player, and even some of the evolution of the college game over time.

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