Did you know that Michael Jordan…

And the 1984 USA Olympic basketball team secretly practiced at the Hoover gym.


Photo courtesy of Kirt Kohlmeier

Michael Jordan and the 1984 Olympic men’s basketball team practiced in the Hoover gym.

By Cher Pamintuan, Staff Writer

Joe Hillman was a former basketball player for Hoover and then for Indiana University. 

What’s so cool about knowing this? 

Well, Hillman’s coach in Indiana, Bob Knight, was the head coach for the Olympic men’s basketball team of 1984 that featured some great players like Michael Jordan, Patrick Ewing, Wayman Tisdale, and Sam Perkins, the team was considered to be “the strongest in U.S.A. ‘s history” to that time.  

Cool, right? It gets cooler. 

Did you know that Jordan and his teammates, because Knight knew Hillman, practiced in the Hoover gym during that time? 

Knight, disliking the practice schedule the American Basketball Association set up for the Olympic teams, called Kirt Kohlmeier, Hoover’s varsity boys’ basketball and softball coach at that time. Knight asked Kohlmeier if the team could hold their practices in the Hoover gym, conveniently located near the Olympic Village in Los Angeles.

Was such an event publicized? 

Of course… not. 

 No one knew of it. Kohlmeier explains that “Knight wanted total secrecy.” He didn’t want reporters, fans, etc., interrupting practice.  

“ It wasn’t until the 14th day, after they won the gold medal, that Coach Knight allowed the Glendale News Press to come in and take some pictures,” Kohlmeier said. The News Press called it the “best kept secret in Los Angeles.” No one could figure out where the U.S.A. team was practicing. 

Because it was such a well kept secret, Knight gifted the Hoover gym with new backboards and rims. 

But here’s an even bigger question than the ones previously asked: What happened in those two weeks at Hoover? 

Kohlmeier got to witness the greatness of the team. He described it as a “magical time.” 

“[Knight] used me as one of the coaches in drills,” Kohlmeier said. “And about every other day,  a motivational speaker was brought in to talk to the team and get them going and keep them on the right track.”

On days where the team didn’t have games, Kohlemeir took them to the pool. 

“ You got all these guys that are multimillionaires jumping off the high dive pretending they’re airplanes,” Kohlmeier said. 

On days where they did have games, the team took Kohlmeier to their games. 

“One of the guys used to come back after every game and he would come up like he was going to shake my hand but he would open up his hand and drop a pin from the other team in my hand,” Kohlmeier said, “ I still have all the pins from every game.” 

But one game in particular stuck to Kohlemeier. 

“ Right at half time, [ Jordan] took a shot, he was at half court and the ball looked like it was in slo-mo and it went in,” Kohlmeier said, “That was the most unbelievable shot I ever saw.” 

After the game, Kohlmeier had to ask Jordan how he made the shot,  “He looked at me and he said, ‘Yeah, I was giving it directions.’” 

“Just to be with greatness, inspired me and I think it inspired a lot of people,” Kohlmeier said.