February 13, 1978
As a star at Hall High in Little Rock and the high-flying ace of Arkansas's Final Four team of 1978, Sidney Moncrief became known throughout the Ozark State as Sid the Whiz Kid and Sidney the Incredible. His 11 years as an NBA guard—10 with the Milwaukee Bucks—only enhanced his standing back home. The 6'3" Moncrief was among the most complete players of his era: a smooth jump shooter, an explosive dunker and a ferocious rebounder and defender. His pro r�sum� includes a career scoring average of 15.6 points, five All-Star appearances and back-to-back defensive player of the year awards, in 1983 and '84. "If I had to pat myself on the back, it would be for the consistent high level of play," Moncrief says. "And the focus...and the ability...and the talent...."
And the relentless—but ultimately fruitless-pursuit of a title. After losing to Kentucky in the semifinals of the 1978 NCAA tournament, Moncrief and Arkansas fell to Larry Bird and Indiana State in the '79 Midwest Regional final. The results were no more satisfying in the NBA: The Bucks never made it to the Finals, losing to the Philadelphia 76ers' four times and to the Bird-led Boston Celtics thrice in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Moncrief is still taking a backseat to Bird. On Feb. 2 he was nominated to the Basketball Hall of Fame for the second straight year, yet Bird, a first-time candidate, stole the headlines. "He keeps popping up, doesn't he?" Moncrief says.
The owner of a car dealership in the Little Rock suburb of Sherwood, Moncrief spends much of his time these days doing community service. For his 40th birthday in September he held a free basketball clinic at Central High, where 40 years earlier federal troops had to be deployed to force the integration of nine black students. With his wife, Debra, he has also championed adoption awareness among African-Americans. The Moncriefs have four boys (three adopted): Brett and Jon, both 9; Jeffrey, 6; and Jason, 2. "As you grow older," Sidney says, "your life must be summed up by more than what you did athletically."
Moncriefs good works and popularity earn him frequent mention as a potential candidate for public office. An independent, he campaigned for unsuccessful Republican gubernatorial candidate Sheffield Nelson in 1990 and '94, but he says he tries to stay away from politics these days. Would he ever throw his hat into the ring? "Not right now," Moncrief says, "but I don't rule out anything in life." Sounds just like a politician.