Chris Burgess has his own “Dear Basketball” story. It is not a short subject, but it’s animated.

To work back, Burgess is an assistant coach at Brigham Young, which knocked off Gonzaga last week and is 24-7.

“We can shoot it really well, and we’ve got seniors, and only one of them has ever been to an NCAA tournament, and they’re dying to get there,” Burgess said Friday night, in a Santa Monica hotel lobby, the day before BYU beat Pepperdine, 81-64.

Five of them are married, two are dads, and Yoeli Childs averages 21 points and eight rebounds. None of them had any idea that Burgess, at 6-foot-11, was better in high school than any of them were, and that he bumped heads with Elton Brand every day for two years at Duke’s practices. Of course, the Cougars hadn’t heard of Brand either.

At Woodbridge High in Irvine, Burgess was the Lonzo Ball of the ’90s, the National Player of the Year. Hall of Fame coaches flew in and out of John Wayne to see him. They held a press conference for Burgess to announce he was picking Duke over BYU, long before social (or anti-social) media. BYU coach Roger Reid still trolled him: “He let down nine million Mormons.”

In this January, 1999 file photo, Chris Burgess of the Duke Blue Devils dunks the ball during a game against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at the Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, North Carolina. (Photo by Craig Jones /Allsport/Getty Images)

At Duke, Burgess discovered Brand, Shane Battier and others just as good. “They ran a four-out, one-in offense,” said John Halagan, Burgess’ Woodbridge coach, “and nobody really knew how good Brand would be.”

Burgess still got to the 1999 championship game, when Connecticut upset Duke, but after two years he transferred to Utah, where he redshirted. He spent two grueling but learning seasons with Coach Rick Majerus, and kept getting hurt.

Four NBA teams cut him in camp. Burgess played in 11 countries on three continents, a new stopover each year, from the United Arab Emirates to Australia, which was his favorite stop. The hours were long and sometimes uncertain, but he says he wouldn’t trade a minute.

“Puerto Rico was the wildest,” he said, remembering parties in the streets and fights in the bleachers. “But the whole thing was great. Our kids (three girls and a boy) learned resilience. They’ll fly to a volleyball tournament in Kansas City, and the other kids are talking about the long flight, and they’re saying, hey, we can do this standing on our head.”

The coaching ladder has been just as dislocating. Burgess began working with Utah’s players while he was getting his degree, and he coached at a junior college in Iowa, became Mark Pope’s assistant at Utah Valley and followed him to BYU.

“He will be a head coach some day,” Halagan said.

Burgess has gotten trophies and rejection slips alike. He is here today because he never blamed the game.

Burgess’ two brothers and a sister played at BYU and his father Ken went to school there. He remembers a basketball-rich adolescence. His dad would just “drop me off, tell me he’d see me an hour” and Chris would match up against all comers at Laguna Beach, Long Beach State, UC Irvine. He played in Magic Johnson’s pickup games at UCLA, where Penny Hardaway might wander onto the scene.

“That’s how I learned the game,” Burgess said. “I’d play against Don MacLean and see how he did things, and then I’d try those things. Today’s kids want to pick up moves on YouTube. I tell them, maybe it’s better to learn it yourself.”

Halagan calls Burgess “maybe the first stretch-4,” a giant who could shoot. But every Woodbridge game would start with Peter Martinelli lobbing from half-court, and Burgess throwing it down.

“I shot it a lot when I was playing with my brothers,” Burgess said. “If we’d just played in the post, we would have had too many fights. I could play 2 through 5, so Coach Halagan would  put in positions where I could see the floor, maybe shoot over the double teams.

“You’d look in the stands and there was Roy Williams, Dean Smith, Mike Krzyzewski, Rick Pitino. One guy on the other team asked me, right before tipoff, ‘Are they here to see you?’ I said, ‘Well, I’m the only 6-11 guy here.’ This is back before texting, so I’d get telegrams from the coaches. One guy sent me 30 letters, rubber-banded. Another one sent me sand from the beach. I said, hey, I live at the beach. That wasn’t going to make much of an impact.”

On May 4 Woodbridge welcomes Burgess into its Hall of Fame. That’s part of the letter. The stamp is on its way.

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