Spider in the Spotlight is sponsored by the University of Richmond Alumni Association.

A Spiders basketball two-time team captain, three-year starter, and member of the university’s
athletic hall of fame, Kevin Eastman began his professional career at Richmond as an assistant coach for the men’s basketball team. He moved on to spend nine years as an NCAA Division I Head Coach before joining the Boston Celtics’ coaching staff prior to the 2004-05 season.

What is the biggest challenge to what you do?
Whenever you’re dealing with the elites at any level—whether in sports or the corporate world - they are a different breed. With the NBA, you have a maximum of 450 of the top players in the world. Each team has 15 of those players. So you’re trying to manage egos—but in our case, good egos. You’re trying to take guys who have gotten to the top because of what they have done individually and put them into a team framework.

Is that a skill you learned at Richmond?
I think the biggest thing that I learned is what I’m sure the current students end up learning: that it’s about choices and their consequences. I learned how to make educated choices and that consequences were the results of my choices—there was no one to blame. I think that’s the thing that carries over the most because whatever field you enter into it will be a continual parade of choices put in front of you.

What advice would you give to current students?
You have to learn how to do things you don’t like to do. There’s always someone above you and they’re going to—at times—make you do things you don’t want to do. But you still have to be productive and you still have to figure out how you can be successful doing it.

How do you network?
I never say no to an opportunity. I wouldn’t be in the NBA if I had said no to opportunities in my past. That’s what I always tell young people, whether they want to go into the corporate world or coaching: never say no to an opportunity in the area you want to pursue.

Do you have a favorite memory of Richmond?
The very last thing that I did as a player at the University of Richmond, somehow they figured a way to get my dad to it without me knowing. I was presented an award at an awards banquet and my dad was there. They arranged it where he was able to take a day off. He drove down. But no one told me—not the coach, the athletic department, my dad, no one.

What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not working?
It’s pretty simple. I’m either reading or I’m just home hanging out with my wife and son because I’m on the road so much—so being around home and reading and learning.

A favorite song on your iPod?
Embarrassingly, as my son will tell you, I don’t have an iPod. To me, I always go back to my era—the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, Bon Jovi. Any song that’s motivating.

A person, dead or alive, that you’d like to meet?
In my world it would probably be a guy like Pat Riley: Lakers, Miami, New York, world champion, driven. He’d be an interesting guy to talk to. He’s got a great philosophy on leadership, motivation, and winning.

Do you have a favorite spot in the world?

I’d love to go back to Rome. We were able to have our training camp over there the year we won the NBA championship. But you’re so busy when you’re doing something like that —we were in hotel watching practice film and that sort of thing most of the time. I really loved being over there.

What does Spider Pride mean to you?
I know what Richmond can do for kids like me—the ability to take somebody like me and put him in an environment where he can start to learn about himself and learn a little bit about how to become successful, that’s what gives me pride, because I believe a university’s mission is to prepare students for the rest of their lives.

Is there a favorite professor or class you remember?

The first one that pops into my mind is the professor who gave me my worst grade ever on a report card. It was an English class with Dr. Irby Brown and I got a D. You talk about preparing for a phone call! I had  to call home to tell them before they got it. It was a great thing for me. It taught me, “Hey, you’ve got responsibility here, man.”

What’s your parting shot?
Don’t let people tell you what you can’t do. You don’t know that yet. Put the work into shaping your own life. Begin investing in your future now.

-Mike Field reports from Baltimore