A 12-year NBA career.
A championship title with the Philadelphia 76ers.
A 34-year career as a professional basketball coach.
It's a ginormous list of accomplishments for any man or woman, but for Nuggets assistant coach Bob Weiss, there's always room to add some more.
“I like to kind of learn how things work and then kind of go to something else,” Bob explained following a practice this past December. “I always have to have something to do. I can't get on a plane and just ride the plane, I've got to have a book, sudoku puzzle, so I got to have something. So I try to keep busy that way.”
The 75-year-old from Athens, Pennsylvania, has lived a lifetime and then some.
Following a four-year career at Penn State, Weiss moved south after being drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers in 1965. Two years later, a star-studded cast led by Wilt Chamberlain, Billy Cunningham, Hal Greer, and Chet Walker beat out the Golden State Warriors in six to claim the franchises second NBA title.
The following summer, the league held an Expansion Draft and Weiss was sent West to play for the Seattle SuperSonics.
Weiss bounced around the league until his retirement in 1977 and has been coaching ever since.
A longtime family friend of Denver head coach Michael Malone, Weiss joined the Nuggets in August of 2017. Besides his never-ending flow of basketball knowledge, Weiss has brought a fun-loving nature to Denver, complete with magic tricks and ping-pong showdowns.
Magic first entered Weiss' life while he was playing in Buffalo with the Braves (now the Los Angeles Clippers).
“When I was playing in Buffalo, New York, there was a bar named a Forks Hotel and one of the top 5 close-up artists in the nation ran the bar.”
His name was Eddie Fechter, a retired military man turned bar owner. A Buffalo hot spot, The Forks Hotel was known for magic. Any night of the week, you could enjoy a beer and watch “Fast Fingers Eddie” entertain bar guests for hours. In the mid-'70s, Bob Weiss was one of them.
“He basically took me under his wing and I would say 90% of the things I do I learned from him.”
Bob says he appreciates the simplicity of Eddie's tricks, using coins, a regular deck of cards, cigarettes, and other “normal” objects to wow magic fans.
Fechter passed away from cancer nearly four decades ago but Weiss still carries a bit of Eddie's legacy with him today.
“I've probably done more tricks here in the last month than I have in the last 5 years,” Bob says with a laugh. The members of the front office, the coaches, the coaches' wives, and the players have all gotten a taste of Bob's magic since his arrival earlier this season, usually over a couple of beers.
But if magic isn't your thing, you can try your hand at a game of ping pong, which just so happens to be another secret talent of Bob's.
In 2008, Weiss became the first former NBA head coach to coach in the CBA, the professional basketball league in China.
“Everybody plays when they're a kid and I was always a pretty good garage player. But when I was over [in China], I was doing an interview with this young Chinese girl. She asked me if I liked to play ping pong, because she had heard that, and I said yes."
After learning the young woman was a former professional ping pong player, Weiss convinced her to train him between practices and games. Their friendship sparked a new passion in the longtime coach.
Back here in Denver, the Nuggets have their own table inside their training facilities. Several Nuggets have challenged the 75-year-old to a match only to leave with their tails between their legs, embarrassed and dumbfounded.
“They haven't come back,” Bob says, letting out a big, joyful laugh. “I'm not gonna mention any names since I said that but there's one guy in the office that's pretty good so I play a lot with him.”
Bob admits that all the skills and trades he's learned over the years are not meant to impress anyone, but to simply have a good time with people he cares about.
“It's just a lot of fun. I enjoy having fun. I love for other people to have fun too. So it's been great.”