ATLANTA - Bob Reinhart didn’t get to the Hall of Fame alone. He was taught the game of basketball in a state defined by it. In high school, he witnessed in person the Mylan High School miracle win over Muncie Central in the 1954 Indiana state finals, made famous by the movie Hoosiers.
“When Bobby shot that ball literally, the ball was suspended in the air when the buzzer went off,” said Reinhart. “It was once in a lifetime experience.”
And that’s saying something because Reinhart has plenty of life experience. He played under the legendary Branch McCracken at Indiana before uprooting his family and heading south to Decatur, Georgia, for a chance to coach high school basketball.
“One of the things I learned over the years is it’s easier to coach with good players,” said Reinhart.
Reinhart won a state championship his first year as head coach in three overall at Decatur. He even got to coach his son, Bobby Jr., who now coaches highs school ball in Florida. He must have learned something from his dad.
“We will be watching TV, basketball game at night at home, and he will see a certain situation and say, you know, this team ought to do this, or this team ought to do that.” said Reinhart Jr.
Reinhart took the Bulldogs to six state final fours. At one point in the early 80s, the Bulldogs had a winning streak under the cigar-chomping Reinhart.
“And we were on top of the world, so to speak, from a high school standpoint,” said Rhinehardt. “And we knew we were going to get the other team’s best shot.”
Reinhart then made a seemingly impossible leap from high school basketball to the NBA, serving as an assistant for the Hawks under Mike Fratello for two years.
“I didn’t look at it as an intimidating thing,” said Reinhart. “I looked at it as a chance to help him. Mike Fratello was a master of x’s and o’s and detail. That’s one thing I learned from Mike Fratello was that preparation.”
Prepared would be a trait that Reinhart would need at his next coach chapter, this time taking over a dreadful Georgia State basketball program in 1985. He did the impossible, leading the Panthers to their first ever NCAA tournament in 1991.
“We had some good players. But to me it wasn’t an upset. In fact, after it was over, I just wrote down on my clipboard mission accomplished, because I had confidence in them. Now we went through the NCAA, I tell people that we were up 13-4 on Arkansas, but we weren’t going to beat them. But I tell people, we cut it to four with under two minutes to play, and they hit two twenty point baskets and beat us by 40. But, we got there,” said Reinhart.
Reinhart isn’t done making an impact on the game he loves. He’s been an NBA scout for the past 24 years, winning two rings with the Miami Heat. And Friday night , he will be recognized for the trifecta, coaching on the high school, college, and professional level in the city he has called home for nearly five decades.
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