LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – UALR Director of Athletics Chris Peterson and head men’s basketball coach Steve Shields announced Tuesday the addition of 15-year NBA veteran and Olympic gold medalist Joe Kleine to the Trojan coaching staff in a press conference at the Jack Stephens Center. Kleine was a member of the 1984 U.S. Olympic gold medal team and won an NBA Championship with the Chicago Bulls in 1998.
“Four years ago I felt very blessed to hire two head coaches to direct our men’s and women’s basketball programs in Joe Foley and Steve Shields. As a group we have a vision for where we want our program to be with the guidance of Dr. Joel Anderson. Four years later I could not be happier with where our program is with the people that our running our men’s and women’s basketball programs,” said Peterson. “What Joe and Steve have done is what it is all about. Is it about wins and losses? Absolutely. Is it about recruiting quality student-athletes and graduating them from the University of Arkansas-Little Rock? That might be more important in our eyes, and they have done a fabulous job of that. Are we thrilled with what’s happened in men’s basketball the last two years? No. We have had some issues and it has not turned out the way Steve Shields, Dr. Anderson, Chris Peterson or our fan base has wanted. Do we need to make some changes in our men’s basketball program? Absolutely, yes, and today is the start of that. We couldn’t be more thrilled and more honored with who we are bringing into the University of Arkansas-Little Rock family.”
“I appreciate everything that coach Peterson has said and meant to my family over the last seven years. Not very often do you come into a situation and have a guy who says what he says and follows up with it on a daily basis. I am certainly appreciative of coach Peterson, Dr. Anderson and the opportunity I have had at the University of Arkansas-Little Rock and continue to have,” said Shields. “I am not at all pleased with where we have been the last two years, and I am not a guy who is going to sit back and cross his legs and say this thing will work itself out. I couldn’t be more excited with where we are going today with the addition of our newest family members in Joe and Dana. Joe has been someone that I have grown to know over the last seven years and feel like I know very, very well. He also brings a wealth of experience to our staff when you think about all the guys he’s been around.”
“First of all I want to thank Dr. Anderson, Chris Peterson, Steve Shields, Joe Foley and the UALR family. What a thrill it is for me to be able to coach, which as (Dana) will attest I have wanted to do for about five or six years,” said Kleine. “This opportunity has been talked about in casual conversation for a long time, but nothing was ever serious. Here lately it got a little more serious and I could feel myself being pulled this way. I couldn’t be happier with being able to do it here in Little Rock. I get to work with people I trust and look up to. You won’t find a better athletic director than Chris Peterson and you won’t find a better head coach than Steve Shields.
“It’s a lot of hard work and dedication, which are things that were taught to me by coach (Eddie) Sutton. I know that I have a lot to learn. I’m not coming into this thing thinking I know it all, but I also know that I have a lot to give,” added Kleine. “The thing I think I can bring to this program more than anything is my love of basketball. I have a passion for it. I’m good at it and it’s what I want to do. With the help of all these great people at the University of Arkansas-Little Rock and this wonderful facility, I think the sky is the limit.”
Kleine was a two-time All-Southwest Conference and USBWA All-District selection at the University of Arkansas, where he averaged 18.1 points and 8.3 rebounds per game over his three-year career. Kleine transferred to Arkansas from Notre Dame, and was named 1982-83 Southwest Conference Newcomer of the Year in his first season with the Razorbacks after sitting out a year. As a junior, his scoring average (18.2 ppg) was better than that of conference-foe Hakeem Olajuwon, then a senior at Houston. As a senior, Kleine averaged 22.1 points and 8.4 rebounds per game. He currently ranks sixth on Arkansas’ all-time scoring list with 1,753 career points.
While at Arkansas, Kleine earned a spot on the 1984 U.S. Olympic basketball team which won a gold medal in Los Angeles, Calif. The 1984 team was coached by Bobby Knight and included teammates Michael Jordan, Patrick Ewing, Chris Mullin and Steve Alford.
Upon graduating from Arkansas with a business degree, Kleine was selected with the No. 6 overall pick of the 1985 National Basketball Association Draft by the Sacramento Kings. He spent three seasons with the Kings, averaging career highs of 9.8 points and 7.1 rebounds per game during the 1987-88 season. He was traded to the Boston Celtics on Feb. 23, 1989 and spent the next four-plus seasons with the Celtics.
Kleine became a free agent in 1993 and signed with Phoenix, starting 42 games in his second season to help the Suns to the 1994-95 Pacific Division title. After stops with the Los Angeles Lakers and New Jersey Nets, Kleine signed with Chicago prior to the 1997-98 campaign and earned a championship ring as the Bulls won the 1998 NBA title.
He ended his professional career with a seven game stint with the Portland Trailblazers during the 1999-00 season. Over the course of his 15-year career, Kleine appeared in 49 playoff games and 965 regular season games, scoring 4,666 points (4.8 per game) and grabbing 3,991 rebounds (4.1 per game). He shot 45.3 percent from the field and 79.4 percent from the free throw line for his career, and ranked sixth in the NBA in free-throw shooting during the 1988-89 season at 88.2 percent (134-of-152).
Kleine gained coaching experience in 2004 as an assistant coach for the USA South Team at the Olympic Festival in Colorado Springs, as well as the 2004 18-and-under USA vs. Europe Hoop Summit in San Antonio, Texas. In addition, he has worked as a volunteer coach with AAU Basketball and Catholic High School in Little Rock.
He and his wife Dana have five children, Duke, Daniel, Courtney, Mallory and William.