(Contributor: Mike Pudlow)
John Laskowski is a basketball player from South Bend, Indiana that played for Indiana University and spent two seasons in the NBA with the Chicago Bulls. Laskowski was part of the first recruiting class for Hoosier head coach Bob Knight and he was famously known as the “Super Sub” because of his ability to come off of the bench and immediately impact the game. After his illustrious college career at Indiana University, Laskowski would go on to play in the NBA, write a book about his time at IU, and become a college basketball broadcaster.
- Name: John Laskowski
- Nickname: “Super Sub,” “Laz”
- Position: Shooting Guard
- Age: 67 years old years old
- Birthday: June 7, 1953
- Hometown: South Bend, Indiana
- High School: St. Joseph’s High School (South Bend, Indiana)
- Height: 6’6″ (1.98 meters)
- Weight: 185 lbs (84 kg)
- Seasons: 4 (1971-1972, 1972-1973, 1973-1974, 1974-1975, Played in only 3 seasons)
- Jersey: #31 / #20
- NBA Draft: 1975 / Round 3/Pick #32 (Chicago Bulls)
- ABA Draft: 1975 / Round 4 (Kentucky Colonels)
- Professional Career: Chicago Bulls (1975-1977)
- Post-Playing Career: Color Commentator and Play-By-Play Broadcaster for the Big Ten Network; owner of Culver’s in Bloomington, Indiana
- Book(s): Tales from the Hoosier Locker Room, 2003
Player Accolades and Awards
- Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame (Inducted: 1999)
John Laskowski High School Career
Laskowski had a very successful high school career at St. Joseph’s High School in South Bend. During his 1970-71 senior season, he averaged 28.9 points per game with a high of 49. His high school coach was future Bob Knight assistant coach Bob Donewald.
St. Joseph’s went all the way to the South Bend Sectional Championship his senior year before eventually losing. Laskowski was high school teammates with fellow future Hoosier basketball player, Tom Abernethy.
John Laskowski would later be recruited by head coach Bob Knight at Indiana University. Bob Knight had just taken over the Indiana University basketball program. After committing to the Hoosiers, John Laskowski and fellow freshman teammate Steve Green were the two most heralded players of Bob Knight’s first recruiting class.
John Laskowski’s Seasons with the Hoosiers
17–8 (9–5 Big Ten)
NIT First Round
22-6 (11-3 Big Ten)
🏅 NCAA Final Four
23-5 (12-2 Big Ten)
🏆 CCA Tournament Champions
31-1 (18-0 Big Ten)
🏅 NCAA Elite Eight
John Laskowski’s Indiana University Career Statistics
John Laskowski’s Indiana University Career
Laskowski was infamously known as IU’s “Super Sub.” While he did not started, he always found a way to impact the game coming off of the bench and, thereby, ingratiated himself in the hearts of Hoosier fans. As a sixth man, he came off the bench and scored 20 points or more on six occasions and scored in double digits 40 times.
He first saw playing time during the 1972-73 season, where he averaged 10.3 points and 4.8 rebounds per game. Averaging a little over 22 minutes per game, Laskowski was the team’s 4th leading scorer and helped lead Indiana to the Final Four where they would eventually fall to UCLA in the National Semi-Final. Among his teammates that season was fellow South Bend native and his former high school teammate, Tom Abernethy.
The next season Laskowski played an even larger role, resulting in the best statistical season of his college career. With the graduation of major scoring threats Steve Downing and John Ritter (who averaged 35 points per game combined), Laskowski was able to shoulder more responsibility. His playing time increased to 26.1 minutes per game and his production also improved. During the 1973-74 season, he averaged 12.5 points (tied for 2nd on the team with Scott May), 3.9 rebounds, and 1.8 assists. He shot 50.7% from the field and was tied with Quinn Buckner for taking the 3rd most shot attempts on the team.
Despite losing their two top scorers from the previous season, Indiana still played well. With a talented roster, Indiana continued its run of successful seasons finishing 23-8. Michigan was also very good that year and each team finished 12-2 in conference play, tying for first place in the Big Ten. Because of the then rule that only conference champions could appear in the NCAA Tournament, Indiana and Michigan had to square off for a 3rd time with the winner receiving the NCAA Tournament invite.
Michigan ended up winning, leaving IU with the consolation prize of a Collegiate Commissioners Association Tournament (CCAT) appearance. This would be IU’s first and only appearance in the CCAT, and the Hoosiers made the most of it, taking the championship trophy back to Bloomington.
During the 1974-75 season, Laskowski’s numbers regressed slightly as several of his teammates had explosive scoring years. Steve Green, Scott May, and Kent Benson all averaged over 15 points per game (not to mention, Buckner’s 11.8 ppg). Still, Laskowski played a major role, averaging 24 minutes a game and contributing 9.5 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 2.4 assists per game.
In fact, Bob Knight gave John Laskowski the opportunity to have a starting position given his seniority and his role as one of the main leaders on the team. Instead, he elected to continue with his brand of being the “Super Sub” and he decided to continue playing off of the bench. Bob Knight would later claim that the 1974-1975 team was the best team he has ever coached.
Indiana finished the regular season undefeated and dominated the Big Ten. In fact, during conference play, IU beat their Big Ten opponents by an average winning margin of 22.8 points per game. The Hoosiers were so much better than their opponents that 4 of the 5 players on the All-Big Ten Team were from Indiana. Unfortunately, Scott May broke his arm in late February and the #1 Hoosiers fell to Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament, as May was limited to just 7 minutes.
John Laskowski’s Professional Career
After his career at Indiana, Laskowski began working as a stockbroker in Indianapolis until one day his boss ran into him in the hallway and handed him the afternoon newspaper, which stated that he had been drafted by the Chicago Bulls. He didn’t even know the draft was taking place.
As it turns out, Laskowski would eventually be drafted into both the NBA (second round by the Chicago Bulls) and the ABA (fourth round by the Kentucky Colonels). Ultimately, Laskowski would pursue a career with the Bulls.
During his first season as a professional in 1975-76, Laskowski saw a lot of playing time. He appeared in 71 games, averaging about 22 minutes per game. Laskowski averaged 9.2 points and 3.1 rebounds per game. Under head coach Dick Motta, Chicago had a record of 24-58 and finished fourth in the Midwest division.
Laskowski earned minutes his rookie season after playing well coming off the bench, his specialization. Jerry Sloan was having knee problems and Chicago needed someone to help fill some of his minutes. After playing well in his first appearance, he was inserted into the starting lineup the next game.
“(Norm) Van Leir and I were the starting guards, and actually finished second team all-rookie that year and averaged about 10 points a game with a high of 29. I had 28 against my hero, Pete Maravich, down at the Superdome in New Orleans,” noted Laskowski.
In his second year, Chicago changed coaches, promoting assistant Ed Badger to coach. The team improved but Laskowski only appeared in 47 games and only played about 12 minutes per game. He averaged only 3.8 points and 1.3 rebounds. Laskowski was joined in Chicago by fellow former Indiana teammate, Scott May.
The Bulls improved to 44-36 but lost to Portland in the first round of the playoffs.
John Laskowski’s Post-Basketball Career
In 1979, Laskowski became a college basketball broadcaster. When asking Coach Bobby Knight for some tips, Knight’s witty response was: “When the red light comes on, start talking.”
Laskowski also worked as a commercial real estate broker and eventually joined IU as VP of marketing and membership for the alumni association. He later became VP of sales for Marsh Alumni Services, a Chicago-based insurance provide
In 2018, Laskowski opened a Culver’s in Bloomington, Indiana.
Although graduating from the Kelley School of Business, Laskowski noted that he never actually envisioned himself running a business when he was young. However, about 20 years after trying Culver’s for the first time in Wisconsin on an IU alumni outing, he decided to open up a franchise location for himself.
“I had a special job at IU, coming off the bench and trying to spark the team and the same is true here,” said Laskowski in an interview.
John Laskowski Videos and Interviews
Check out the rich history of Indiana Hoosiers basketball!
Every week, we are publishing new articles on former and current Indiana University basketball legends, historical figures, and other IU history. Our goal is to capture the history of the Hoosiers all in one place. Click here to see our current collection of articles on Indiana basketball tradition.
Have a favorite Indiana Hoosier basketball player, coach, or event?
Help grow the Hoosier basketball history books by being a contributor to one of our IU athletics history pages! IndianaHQ is always looking for writers of all ages and experience levels. If you think you have what it takes, drop us an email here or send us a tweet!