N.C State basketball legend Chris Corchiani spoke to a gathering of local Boy Scouts supporters at the Cape Fear Council Boy Scouts breakfast held in the Whiteville United Methodist Church fellowship hall Tuesday morning. Corchiani entertained the audience with his experiences from his NBA playing days. He also used one of those stories to provide a message to those attending.
Corchiani graduated from Hialeah-Miami Lakes High School in Florida in 1987. He earned Parade High School All-American honors his senior season. His college decision came down to Duke and N.C. State. “Coach Krzyzewski concentrated his recruitment on my mother, “ Corchiani said. “Coach Valvano focused on my father because that’s who he thought would make the decision. He was right.”
Corchiani played basketball at N.C. State from 1987-88 through the 1990-91 season. He was the first player in NCAA history to surpass 1,000 career assists and is still second on the all-time list. He is third on the ACC career list for steals.
“I never played basketball to be recruited or go to the NBA,” he said. “ I played because I loved the game. I still do.”
Corchiani was named to the All-ACC second team after the 88-89 and 90-91 seasons. He was selected in the second round (36th overall) of the 1991 NBA draft by the Orlando Magic.
Corchiani did not make the Orlando Magic roster prior to the 1991-92 season.
“It was my first time failing. I went in to Coach Matt Guokas’s office and asked him what I needed to do to get better,” he remembered. Laughing, Corchiani says, “Mattie gave me a long list of things.”
He returned to Raleigh and was playing with the Raleigh Bullfrogs of the now-defunct Global Basketball Association when his agent called. Orlando had suffered injuries at the guard position and needed help.
Corchiani recalls, “My agent said to pack my bags and get to Denver because I was playing guard against the Nuggets the next night. When I arrived at Denver’s McNichols Arena players entrance, the guard called security because he didn’t believe I was a player.”
After a six-game West Coast swing, Orlando returned home to face the Chicago Bulls. Corchiani was excited because he knew he would have a courtside seat to watch Michael Jordan in action. He called his parents, telling his mother to bring the camera in case she might get a photo of him on the bench with Jordan in the background.
It didn’t quite work out how Corchiani planned. During the game, Coach Guokas called on the six foot, one inch Corchiani to go in and guard Jordan.
“As soon as I entered the game they threw Jordan the ball and I fouled him. On the out-of-bounds play they threw him the ball again and I fouled again,” Corchiani said. “I walked past Jordan at the free throw line and he said, “Chris, you need to grow a couple of inches.”
Corchiani finished the story with, “Now I was known as a fiery competitor and it made me mad for a moment. Then I realized, Michael Jordan knows my name!”
Corchiani played three seasons in the NBA before completing his professional career overseas.
Corchiani related a conversation with Coach Guokas later in the year. Guokas said, “Chris, I could have called several other more talented players to fill our roster spot, but I called you because of how well you handled it when we cut you originally.”
That conversation stuck with Corchiani. “I got a second chance because of the way I handled things when they weren’t going my way.”
Corchiani left his audience with this advice, “Treat people the way you want to be treated. Do something nice, no matter how small, for someone today. You never know how a small thing can positively impact someone in a great way.”
Corchiani currently resides in the Triangle area and still can be seen in attendance at Wolfpack basketball games. He is currently the managing member of Tyron Title, LLC. When not working, he enjoys boating, fishing, golfing and spending time with his four children, Christopher Jr., Tommy, Annabelle and Hugo.
The Boy Scouts raised $22,000 at the breakfast, almost all of which will stay with local scouting programs.