A towering basketball nomad for 11 seasons, the NBA's onetime tallest player has settled in a decidedly dorkier second career
The Global Dynamic Lab is a steel, three-story structure outside Raleigh. Built by a technology company called NetApp, which specializes in data storage and management, the hulking gray facility houses 2,136 eight-foot-tall racks of hard drives—36 racks per row, with rows labeled A through U and then AA through UU. Chuck Nevitt was not hired here as an engineering support staffer because, at 7'5", he can easily manipulate the cables located above the racks. "But I am the only person here," he admits, "who can do that without a ladder."
The eternally affable Nevitt, 52, once had a career that looked like it might never end. Despite a thin basketball résumé at N.C. State (5.5 ppg as a senior) his stature made him the Rockets' third-round pick in 1982 and, soon after, an NBA nomad. Nevitt suited up for the Lakers, Pistons, Rockets again and Bulls, always finding a roster spot but rarely any playing time—826 minutes over nine seasons. "My job was preparing the other guys," says Nevitt, who was once signed by the Lakers to guard Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in practice. "And I was fine with that."
But in '94, after a brief CBA sojourn, the former tallest player in NBA history returned to Raleigh with his wife, Sondra, and their son, Christopher, now 21, to find a new gig. Following three years in construction, Nevitt landed work as an IT analyst at Alcatel-Lucent, a telecom company. He learned how to configure Windows operating systems, set up printers and troubleshoot wonky computers. Now the onetime Human Victory Cigar, so called because teams put him in at the end of blowouts, works for NetApp at the Global Dynamic Lab. His past, however, is seldom far away. "They have a court, and people try to get me to play," Nevitt says. "I haven't done it yet. I'd much rather keep thinking I can play than go out there and suck air."