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Kaplan: Chet Coppock is influencing my career

The death of legendary Chicago champion Chet Coppock has brought back many memories for me, because he and I had a long history, especially the great role he played in my life. I would not write this or send it on radio or television without him taking me under his wing and giving an inexperienced Skokie boy the chance to broadcast in Chicago.

Before I entered the broadcasting profession, I was a basketball coach at Northern Illinois University from 1982-86. Like many in the coaching profession, I lost my job when my head coach lost his job, and I wondered aloud what the hell I was going to do with my life. I knew that I had to be in the sports world, and I knew very well that I wanted to be on the air. I launched a college basketball recruiting newsletter that coaches and fans subscribed to. When I tried to market it, I sent a letter to the biggest name in the Chicago sports broadcast I could think of, Chet Coppock. He was an integral part of the radio five nights a week in Chicago.

I remember exactly how I went into my house and saw how the message light flashes on my recorder. "Hey David, okay kid, I'll give you a shot! Tonight, let's talk about college basketball Bring your A game! This is Chopp Coppock from Coppock on Sports. Call me back!"

Wow! I really wanted to play with the only Chet Coppock? The Big Rock Candy Mountain itself? I knew this was a great opportunity, but I had no idea at the time that this call would change my life forever. Chet Coppock gave me a shot and he would become the biggest professional influence in my career. He would entertain me regularly about college basketball and the recruitment world. DePaul and the basketball of Illinois were hot topics.

It has always been a big deal to be in his show.

Fast forward to March 1

989. It's a Tuesday night, two days before the start of the NCAA tournament, and I get a phone call from the then assistant basketball coach at the University of Arizona, Kevin O'Neill, who was one of my closest back then Friends in the world was and remains. KO, as he is called, calls me in the early evening to tell me that he has a great resource for him – Michigan basketball boss Bill Frieder is appointed the new head coach in Arizona the next day.

After making a handful of phone calls to confirm the story, I call Chet.

He is in the air and moderates the Doug Collins Show, the then head coach of the Chicago Bulls. Chet answers the phone during a commercial break and I tell him my shovel.

"I'll hire you right now, but if you're wrong, I'll bury you in this city and you'll never get a broadcasting concert." Chet said. Do you feel confident enough in your story? "

Yes, I told him.

I blow up, reveal the news and Collins does not tell me anything that will happen. He is a former assistant coach in the state of Arizona and like many others, he did not believe the story was accurate.

The next day the story breaks and the USA Today writes "Coppock on Sports in Chicago".

From that day on, Chet had a big impact on my broadcasting career and he opened doors for me that I could never open. Without him, I would never do what I do today.

Rest in peace, my friend. You will always be remembered as a legend.

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