At seven feet tall, Marshall Plumlee stands out in a formation. It also helps that he played in the NBA and served in the 75th Ranger Regiment, and now, he’s adding Harvard Business School to the list.
In an Instagram post over the weekend, Plumlee announced he’d be starting at the university in the fall.
When Plumlee went on active duty, his stature would have been unusual enough, but it was his background that really stood out — less than a year earlier he had been playing professional basketball.
“I enjoyed basketball, I loved playing it at the highest level,” Plumlee told The New York Daily News in 2020. “But there was still an itch I wanted to scratch on the Army side of things. I wanted to do it in a larger capacity. I feel like I learned all these great lessons in teamwork and leadership from some of the teams I’ve been a part of in the NBA, and I felt obligated to share that with the army team.
Plumlee played on Duke University’s basketball team for four years under coach Mike Krzyzewski, but his interest in the U.S. military went back further. At a high school basketball conference, Plumlee was mentored by Army Gen. Robert Brown, who, as Plumlee recounted in a 2020 interview, told him there might be a way to both play college basketball and join the Army. Plumlee then became the first Duke basketball player in three decades to also participate in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps.
Signed by the New York Knicks in 2016, Plumlee eventually commissioned and joined the New York Army National Guard. He would go on the play parts of two seasons in New York and Milwaukee before going on active duty as perhaps the tallest infantry platoon leader soldiers have ever seen.
“Even in the middle of the night under night vision goggles, my soldiers can always find me,” Plumlee said in his New York Daily News interview. “They can see which one of the dark blurs is Lt. Plumlee because I’m about twice as big as the other guys.”
After graduating Ranger School in 2019, Plumlee went on to serve with the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington and most recently with the 3rd Ranger Battalion at Fort Benning, Georgia.
His Instagram has also chronicled his time as a lieutenant – with his Fighting Ferrets platoon, flexing with his RTOs, or taking a few minutes out at Yakima Training Center to demonstrate the finer arts of dunking a basketball.
And while very few service members’ tales of civilian life involve winning a college basketball national championship, Plumlee has remained humble throughout.
In a 2020 interview with his brigade commander at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Plumlee offered his advice for junior leaders.
“Set really high goals for yourself. Do awesome things and bring a soldier with you,” said Plumlee, adding that whether it was a weekend hike, watching a movie or going to the gym, “it has never taken away from any experience of mine to have a soldier, another leader there with me. It has only enriched it.”
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