John Ecker (basketball)

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John Ecker
John Ecker.png
Ecker with the Bruins during 1970–71 season
Personal information
Born (1948-10-12) October 12, 1948 (age 70)
NationalityAmerican / German
Listed height6 ft 6 in (1.98 m)
Career information
High schoolUniversity (Los Angeles, California)
CollegeUCLA (1968–1971)
NBA draft1971 / Undrafted
Playing career1971–1983
Coaching career1992–1995
Career history
As player:
1971–1983TuS 04 Leverkusen
As coach:
1992–1993BG Bonn 92
Career highlights and awards
As player

John Miles Ecker (born October 12, 1948)[1] is a German-American former basketball player and coach. He played college basketball for the UCLA Bruins under Coach John Wooden, winning three straight national championships from 1969 through 1971. Ecker played and coached professionally in Germany, where he also became a naturalized citizen in 1977. He also taught at a high school in Germany.

Ecker is married to German Olympic gold-medal winner Heide Ecker-Rosendahl. Their son, Danny Ecker, became one of the top German pole vaulters.

Early life[edit]

Playing basketball at University High in West Los Angeles, Ecker was named to the All-Western League Second Team in 1965.[2] As a senior, he averaged 20.7 points per game and was named to the All-Los Angeles City First Team. He was also named to the All-Western League First Team along with fellow senior teammate Bill Seibert.[3]

College career[edit]

Ecker was not a marquee player for UCLA.[4] Over three championship seasons, he played in nearly every game, though his playing time was limited and typically came when the outcome of the game was already decided.[5][6] The skinny, 6-foot-6-inch (1.98 m) reserve served as a backup at both forward and center.[7][8][9] He is one of 14 players who won three National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) titles at UCLA under Coach John Wooden.[10]

Ecker entered UCLA as a walk-on without an athletic scholarship,[11] and was a starter on the freshman team in 1966–67. He was joined in the lineup by Seibert, his former high school teammate.[12][13] The following season, Ecker redshirted and did not play.[14] He made the 15-man varsity squad for 1968–69, and served as the team's third-string center.[9][14]

On the first day of practice in 1969–70, students at UCLA had scheduled a walkout to protest the Vietnam War. Ecker joined teammate Andy Hill, who was also a former high school teammate,[15] in requesting Wooden to cancel practice to support of the antiwar effort, but the coach refused.[16] With the graduation of three-year starting center Lew Alcindor (known later as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), Ecker was promoted to second-string as starter Steve Patterson's backup.[9][17] During the season, Ecker made a 4-foot (1.2 m) layup with five seconds remaining for a 72–71 win over Oregon State.[18] He had entered the game for a jump ball with 16 seconds left after Sidney Wicks had fouled out, and controlled the tip before making the winning shot.[7][8][19] UCLA finished the season 28–2, and won the national championship game over Jacksonville. At the annual team banquet after the season, Seibert delivered a speech that was highly critical of Wooden. Afterwards, the coach was determined to eliminate "all possible sources of trouble" from the team. He interrogated Ecker, Hill, and Terry Schofield, advising them to transfer from UCLA if they agreed with Seibert, but all three players insisted that they wished to stay.[20][21][22]

In 1970–71, Ecker made two free throws in the final seven seconds in a 57–53 win over Washington State. The team's top free throw shooter at 88 percent, he made the shots in place of an injured Schofield.[23][24] The Bruins won their fifth straight national championship, and seven of the previous eight.[25]

Professional career[edit]

Ecker played in Germany for TuS 04 Leverkusen from 1971 though 1983.[1] He briefly returned to the U.S. for 15 months starting in 1974,[26] when he served as an assistant coach with UCLA.[27] Ecker later coached in Germany as well.[1]

From 1975 though 2010, he was also a high school teacher at Landrat-Lucas-Gymnasium in Opladen.[1]


Ecker met his wife, Heide Rosendahl, in 1971 on his third day in Leverkusen.[1] Rosendahl won two gold medals in track and field in the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich.[28] They married in 1974 and have two sons: David and Danny, who became one of Germany's top pole vaulters.[1][5][29]

Ecker became a German citizen in 1977.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Grass, Siegfried (October 12, 2013). "Leverkusener aus L.A.—John Ecker wird 65". Rheinische Post (in German). Archived from the original on 2015-08-07.
  2. ^ Wilson, Wayne (February 11, 1965). "Paul Hoffman Selected As Best Player On Helms' All-West Valley League Team". The Valley News. p. 48-B. Retrieved August 7, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.open access
  3. ^ "Long Beach Poly's Chuck Moore & Trent Gaines Named Top CIF Basketeers For 1966" (PDF) (Press release). Helms Athletic Foundation. March 24, 1966. Archived (PDF) from the original on August 7, 2015.
  4. ^ Ecker, John (June 27, 2010). "Former UCLA forward John Ecker remembers John Wooden, relates fondest memory of coach". Sporting News. Archived from the original on 2015-08-07.
  5. ^ a b Myers, Laura (June 13, 2010). "Picking up more than splinters". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on July 31, 2015.
  6. ^ "Ecker's Tossess Tumble WSU". Independent Press-Telegram. February 28, 1971. p. S-1. Retrieved August 7, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.open access
  7. ^ a b Cumen, Stu (January 12, 1970). "UCLA Has 3rd Squeak". El Paso Herald-Post. UPI. p. B-9. Retrieved August 7, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.open access
  8. ^ a b Kirkpatrick, Curry (February 2, 1970). "It's More Fun Without Lew". Sports Illustrated. Archived from the original on August 7, 2015.
  9. ^ a b c "Reserve Ecker Keeps UCLA Atop Both Polls". Lebanon Daily News. UPI. January 13, 1970. p. 13. Retrieved August 7, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.open access
  10. ^ Crowe, Jerry (April 3, 2009). "Kobe Bryant vs. Ron Artest is worth hearing". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on May 28, 2015.
  11. ^ Schrader, Loel (February 15, 1970). "Ecker, Booker Give UCLA Lift". Independent Press Telegram. p. S-2. Retrieved August 7, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.open access
  12. ^ "UCLA Unveils Alcindor Against Frosh Tonight". Independent. Long Beach, California. November 26, 1966. p. C-2. Retrieved August 7, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.open access
  13. ^ "UCLA's John Wooden Sees Winning Times Ahead Even Without Alcindor". San Antonio Express. AP. January 26, 1969. p. 8-K. Retrieved August 7, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.open access
  14. ^ a b "Coach Names 15-Man Bruin Cage Roster". The Valley News. November 10, 1968. p. 50-A. Retrieved August 7, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.open access
  15. ^ Hill, Andrew; Wooden, John (2001). Be Quick—But Don't Hurry: Finding Success in the Teachings of a Lifetime. Simon & Schuster. p. 20. ISBN 978-0743213882. Retrieved August 7, 2015.
  16. ^ Williams, Pat; Denney, James. Coach Wooden: The 7 Principles That Shaped His Life and Will Change Yours. pp. 53–4. ISBN 9781441214928. Retrieved August 7, 2015.
  17. ^ "Candid Wooden Says Bruins Should Be Choice". Spokane Daily Chronicle. AP. November 25, 1970. p. 12. Retrieved August 8, 2015.
  18. ^ "Ecker's Last-Gasp Shot Keeps No. 1 UCLA Unbeaten, 72–71". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. AP. January 12, 1970. p. 3-B. Retrieved August 7, 2015.
  19. ^ Shuyler, Jr., Ed (January 12, 1970). "Georgia Bulldogs Beat Tennessee Vols, 61–56". The Corbin Daily Tribune. AP. p. 2. Retrieved August 7, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.open access
  20. ^ Davis, Seth (2014). Wooden: A Coach's Life. Macmillan. pp. 332–5. ISBN 9780805092806. Retrieved August 7, 2015.
  21. ^ Smith, John Matthew (2013). The Sons of Westwood. University of Illinois Press. pp. 171–2. ISBN 9780252095054. Retrieved August 7, 2015.
  22. ^ Hill, Wooden 2001, pp. 30–4.
  23. ^ "Bruins Win It At Charity Line". The Sun-Telegram. AP. February 28, 1971. p. B-2. Retrieved August 7, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.open access
  24. ^ "Bruins Win Close Ones". The Iola Register. AP. March 23, 1971. p. 8. Retrieved August 7, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.open access
  25. ^ "The Top 20". Sports Illustrated. November 29, 1971. Archived from the original on April 8, 2015.
  26. ^ "Die Korbmacher". Der Spiegel. November 18, 1974. Archived from the original on August 7, 2015.
  27. ^ "2014–15 UCLA Basketball Media Guide" (PDF). UCLA Sports Information Office. 2014. p. 165. Archived (PDF) from the original on July 22, 2015.
  28. ^ "Superstar Slight Annoys Olympian". Wisconsin State Journal. N. Y. Times News Service. December 13, 1974. Page 4, Section 6. Retrieved August 7, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.open access
  29. ^ Waldbröl, Hans-Joachim (February 14, 2007). "Mehrkampf im Herzen und Eierkocher zur Belohnung". Frankfurter Allgemeine (in German). Archived from the original on 2015-08-07.