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From Basketball to Covert Ops: E. Henry Knoche

One of the aspects of obituary writing I most treasure are the surprises of a person's life.

E. Henry Knoche was an analyst at the CIA who worked his way up to become deputy director of the agency under George H.W. Bush and then served for seven weeks as acting director before retiring in 1977.

Except it's only by chance he joined the CIA at all.

Mr. Knoche, a six foot four center at the University of Colorado and Washington and Jefferson College, almost became a professional basketball player.

In 1947, he was among the first players picked in the inaugural draft of the league that would become the NBA.

He was selected by the Pittsburgh Ironmen, but the team, about to go out of business, sold his contract to the New York Knicks. Spying a financial opportunity, Mr. Knoche attempted to negotiate his salary with the Knicks.

The star player demanded $2,500. The Knicks said no deal.

Mr. Knoche's dreams of becoming a paid player faded away but basketball didn't.

While Mr. Knoche was at the CIA, his son, Chris Knoche, was an All-Met guard at W.T. Woodson High School in Fairfax county and later a starter for the American University Eagles.

Chris Knoche was head coach of the AU Men's basketball team from 1990 to 1997 and is now an analyst and commentator for Maryland Terrapin's basketball games.

For me, it's these surprising connections to our community which make obituary writing so interesting.

By T. Rees Shapiro  |  August 30, 2010; 11:38 AM ET
Categories:  T. Rees Shapiro , Washington DC-area people  | Tags: American University, CIA, E. Henry Knoche, Local Life, NBA, Universit of Maryland  
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