Frank (Frankie) Alan Hamblen II, 70, of San Diego, Calif., passed away suddenly on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017, at his home in Del Mar, Calif. He was born April 16, 1947, in Terre Haute, Ind., to Frank Alan Hamblen I and Doris Scott Hamblen. Frank was retired from the NBA after enjoying 42 years as an assistant coach and interim head coach.
Survivors include his sister and No. 1 fan, Susan Hamblen Mardis and her husband Michael from Terre Haute, Ind.; two nephews whom he loved and enjoyed, Matthew Carter Mardis and his wife Jessica, from Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Andrew Carter Mardis and his wife Kristin, from Playa Del Rey, Calif.; one great-nephew, Carter Augustus Mardis; three great-nieces, Madeline Rae Mardis, Micah Jane Mardis and Campbell Grace Mardis, also from Tulsa, Okla.; and his beloved Aunt Jerry Stultz, who resides in Indianapolis, Ind. Frank is also survived by several cousins; and his companion, Jane Ottenstein, whom he lovingly referred to as "my Janie." Friends and family could easily see how his Janie brought him great joy and happiness.
This is Frank's story.
Hamblen enjoyed his early years playing basketball in the backyard in continual pick-up games with neighbors, friends, his little sister and mostly his Dad. There was not a time when you did not hear the ball bouncing at the Hamblen Home on the "dustbowl." If someone wanted to play basketball the court was always open.
While attending Garfield High School as a Purple Eagle, Frank was a four-year letterman in basketball and baseball, and one year in football. Frankie was also an accomplished pianist, playing at the queen's coronations while at Garfield and piano solos for church. Much to Hamblen's chagrin, his mother would make him leave baseball and basketball practice to attend his piano lessons, which caused some hoots and hollers from his teammates, but he was always the obedient son and did not complain. He also enjoyed having the lead in high school plays, and singing in the church choir.
In Terre Haute, Ind., Hamblen graduated from Garfield High School in 1965. As a sophomore, he played on the 1963 IHSAA State Finals team that was defeated by South Bend Central. He finished as the Purple Eagles' No. 3 scorer behind three-time All-American Terry Dischinger and Hall of Famer Clyde Lovellette. Hamblen was recognized among the top 12 high school basketball players in Indiana by being inducted into the Indiana Hall of Fame in 2007, and in 1990 he was honored as a member of the Silver Anniversary Team in Indiana.
Hamblen graduated from Syracuse University in 1969. On the Syracuse Orange men's basketball team, Hamblen earned three letters and was team captain as a senior. Frank Hamblen played forward and guard for Syracuse during the late '60's and was captain of the 1969 team. He also played baseball while at Syracuse, though he did not letter. His basketball trademark was a jump shot where he barely left the floor, and he was an outstanding free-throw shooter.
A strong student of the game, Hamblen began immediately working for the NBA as a scout upon his graduation in 1969 for the San Diego/Houston Rockets. This started a 42-year career with the NBA and ABA, where he was a successful assistant coach for the Denver Rockets (1972-1977), Kansas City Kings (1978-1987), Milwaukee Bucks (1988-1996), Chicago Bulls (1996-1998) and Los Angeles Lakers (1999-2011). He won seven NBA championships as an assistant coach with the Bulls (1997, 1998) and the Lakers (2000, 2001, 2002, 2009, 2010). Hamblen also coached in three NBA and ABA All-Star games (1976, 2000, 2009).
Hamblen was honored as a Syracuse Letterwinner of Distinction in 2011.
Frank leaves behind many treasured friends from all walks of life and from all over the globe. Even though Frank's life was cut short, his life was extremely full and blessed. His family appreciates the many phone calls, cards, meals and texts we have received to ease our sorrow. We look forward to celebrating his life on Saturday, Oct. 14, in Los Angeles at NewLifeLA, 2600 S. La Brea Ave. at 2 o'clock in the afternoon. Services will be conducted by Pastor Keith Jenkins. A celebration of his life is pending in his hometown, where he will be laid to rest. In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that donations be sent to LoveLA (www.LoveLA.us), the Boys and Girls Club of Terre Haute (924 N. 13th St., Terre Haute, IN 47804) and the San Diego Fisher House for Veterans (www.sandiegofisherhouse.org).
Published on October 6, 2017