Robert Sarver: Modern Day Ted Stepien

Look at me ma, I'm grandstanding!
Look at me ma, I’m grandstanding!

In a ridiculous turn of events, Robert Sarver apologized to Suns fans last night for the San Antonio Spurs resting two old ass players – Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili – and letting three other players with mild injuries rest up during a PRESEASON GAME.

Here’s some of the histrionics from Sarver via the Arizona Republic:

“Hey, everybody, I want to thank you for coming out tonight,” Sarver said. “This is not the game you paid your hard-earned money to watch. I apologize for it. And I want you to send me your tickets if you came tonight with a return envelope and I’ve got a gift for you on behalf of the Suns for showing up tonight. Thank you.”

First of all, I’m of the opinion those fans wasted their money by buying preseason tickets.

Second of all, if Sarver wants to apologize to Phoenix fans for wasting their hard-earned money on the Suns, he oughta give a mea culpa for his apparent and silly mandate from 2004 to 2007 to discard any and all potentially useful draft picks.

After viewing the list of travesties, you’ll conclude, like I have that Sarver was a modern-day Ted Stepien… the infamous Cleveland owner from the early 1980s who gave away draft picks for next-to-nothing.

JUNE 2004

The Suns drafted Luol Deng with the 7th overall pick and hastily traded him to the Chicago Bulls for a Jackson Vroman and a 2005 1st Round Pick. As I’m sure y’all know, Deng has gone on to a fine career while Jackson Vroman has… what has he done? I’ve honestly never heard of him before this. According to Basketball-Reference, Vroman played a total of 57 minutes for the Suns before being traded away.

Well, at least the Suns used that 2005 1st Rounder from Chicago to select Nate Robinson…

JUNE 2005

Well, that didn’t last long. After the Suns drafted li’l Nate they packaged him with Quentin Richardson for the New York Knicks. In return the Suns got wild-eyed Kurt Thomas and Dijon Thompson. Dijon however was no good and wasn’t in high demand like Grey Poupon. Thompson would play a grand total of 43 minutes for the Suns.

In a separate deal, the Suns gave away 2nd Round draft pick Marcin Gortat to the Orlando Magic for the mythical “future considerations.” Seems like an even deal.

JUNE 2006

With an all-world point guard like Steve Nash, the Suns still needed to have some backup help and they coulda had it in spades this year by drafting Sergio Rodriguez and Rajon Rondo.

Instead, they wound up trading both men. Rodriguez was sold for cash to the Portland Trail Blazers. Meanwhile Rondo was shipped to Boston for a future 1st Round Pick. Don’t worry they’ll be trading that pick soon enough.

Instead of having Rodriguez or Rondo to back up Nash, Phoenix went out and signed… Marcus Banks. Jesus.

JULY 2007

That 1st Rounder Phoenix got for Rondo turned out to be Rudy Fernandez. Rudy got sold for cash to the Blazers.

Don’t worry, just a week later the Suns dumped Kurt Thomas, a 2008 1st Rounder, and a 2010 1st Rounder on Seattle for the privilege of a 2nd Round draft pick and a trade exception. The two first rounders Phoenix dumped turned out to be Serge Ibaka and Quincy Pondexter. One an All-Star caliber player, the other turning into a fine rotation swingman. The Suns took Emir Preldzic, who has yet to play in the NBA, with that 2nd Rounder they got in return.

THE SCORE

So, let’s tally the score shall we. From 2004 to 2007, Phoenix traded away draftees and draft picks that became Rajon Rondo, Serge Ibaka, Luol Deng, Nate Robinson, Rudy Fernandez, Marcin Gortat, and Sergio Rodriguez for cash, Marcus Banks, Dijon Thompson, and “future considerations.”

Wasn’t like Phoenix was a title-contender all these years, coming perilously close to the Finals.

Good grief.

 

Thanks to basketball-reference as always for being a great research source.

Floundering Foundry: The Pittsburgh Ironmen

The following article was contributed by David Pincus and originally appeared on his blog Broken Leagues. To see more of David’s work focusing on fantasy basketball, visit his blog and follow him on Twitter @brokenleagues.

(A mock-up of what the Ironmen logo should have looked like. Illustration courtesy of Matthew Wolff)
(A mock-up of what the Ironmen logo should have looked like. Illustration courtesy of Matthew Wolff)

Pittsburgh is one of the best sports cities in America. They have an historically-great football team, a thriving hockey team, and, at long last, a contending baseball team. Pittsburgh has so much going for it as a sports town that seemingly the only thing it lacks is an NBA franchise. But that wasn’t always the case. Way back in 1946, a year before Jackie Robinson appeared in a game and when Harry S. Truman was still president, Pittsburgh had an NBA team: the Ironmen.

Well, a BAA team technically. In 1946, the Basketball Association of America was launched with 11 charter franchises, and of those 11, only the Knicks, Celtics and Warriors are still around today. In 1949, the BAA absorbed the National Basketball League, and the partnership of the two leagues officially spawned the NBA. The Pittsburgh Ironmen was one of the eight original franchises that didn’t make the cut.

There’s not much to say about the Ironmen other than that they were terrible in virtually every way. At 15-45, they were the worst team in the league, and considering they were worst NBA team in the first year of its existence, when the league was in all likeliness at its absolute worst, the 1946-47 Ironmen could reasonably be considered the worst team — talent-wise — in NBA history. Of the 17 players who suited up for the Ironmen in their inaugural/last season, just four of them would play another year.

The team did make history of a sort by rostering both Roger and Noble Jorgensen, becoming the first NBA team to feature siblings. (Roger averaged 1.5 points per game, and Noble averaged 4.4 points per game. So if you’ve never heard of them, you’re excused.) Coulby Gunther led them in scoring with 14.1 points per game, which he accomplished despite shooting a ghastly 33.6% from the floor. And if you think that percentage is bad (and it is), you might be shocked to learn that his was the best on the team. Yes, the Pittsburgh Ironmen shot 27.1% from the field in 1947, and to indicate just how sucky pro basketball was at the time, the Ironmen were only the ninth-worst shooting team in the league. (The best? The Chicago Stags at 29.8%.)

The most notable player on the Ironmen roster was Pete Maravich’s father, Peter “Press” Maravich, who averaged 4.6 points per game in his lone NBA season. But the most notable person on the 1947 Ironmen, without question, was head coach Paul Birch, an asshole of a man who only got the gig because he’d been a star at the local Duquesne University.

How big an asshole was Birch? “Birch was his era’s Bobby Knight,” Dennis Purdy wrote in Kiss ‘Em Goodbye: An ESPN Treasury of Failed, Forgotten, and Departed Teams, “routinely screaming at and demeaning his players on the court, throwing basketballs at players’ heads during practice, and throwing punches at their heads as well during games. At halftime, Birch was known to throw chairs at his players in the locker room. … Birch’s aggression was hardly confined to his own charges. When he occasionally punched out an opposing player on the road, the crowd would invariably threaten to riot. … One time, when a crowd threatened to beat Birch, his players refused to help him. On more than one occasion, he punched out referees and opposing coaches.”

Want more?

Mark Kriegel — Pistol: The Life of Pete Maravich:

After an overtime loss, Birch threatened Press with a $100 fine if he so much as came out of the shower. … In Chicago, Birch threw him up against a locker. The players broke it up before Birch could get off any punches. That’s not to say the coach didn’t hurt him, though. As the season wound down, and the Ironmen were left with just eight or nine men, Birch would keep Press on the bench for entire games.

Charley Rosen — No Blood, No Foul: A Novel:

I’d played against him way back when, and knew him as a fire-breathing perfectionist who cursed his teammates every time they missed a shot. He was also the dirtiest player I’d ever had the displeasure to encounter.

Richard Birch, Paul’s son, in an interview with The San Diego Union-Tribune:

He was Bobby Knight times 10. His modus operandi was fear and intimidation of everyone: referees, players, fans. That was his formula for success. He learned it very young and he never changed.

In essence, there was nothing even slightly redeeming about the Pittsburgh Ironmen. Their coach was a clown, their team was a joke, and the stadium that they played in, Duquesne Gardens, could only hold up to 7,000 people because it had been converted from a trolley car barn. The team did not return for a second season and it’s probably just as well. A lot of cities would love to have an NBA team, but Pittsburgh probably doesn’t need one nor does it want one, especially if it’s just going to be as dysfunctional as the last NBA team that called the steel city home.

Bullet Points:

  • The Knicks, Celtics and Warriors are considered the oldest NBA franchises, because the league recognizes itself as a continuation of the BAA. The oldest operating basketball team is really the Detroit Pistons though, who have been existence since 1941 when they joined the NBL as the “Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons.”
  • Pittsburgh did get an ABA team: the Pipers, who promptly moved to Minnesota after one year. In a bizarre turn of events, the Pipers moved back to Pittsburgh just one year later and later changed their name to the “Pittsburgh Condors.”
  • I only set out to write about the Ironmen because I was inspired by Matthew Wolff’s re-branded logo for them, which looks pretty awesome. Plus, I can’t imagine many people are writing about the Ironmen these days.

New York, New York: Julius Erving, the Nets-Knicks Feud, and America’s Bicentennial

via the Daily Mail
A pleasant ride on the NY Subway in 1976 (via the Daily Mail)

1976 was an awkward time for the United States of America.

The previous few years had seen the military massacre college students at home and abandon an unpopular, costly war abroad. A president had resigned, narrowly escaping impeachment. And as James Brown eloquently stated in his song, “Funky President (People It’s Bad),” times were bad, people:

Stock market going up, Jobs going down
And ain’t no funky jobs to be found

Taxes keep going up, I changed from a glass
Now I drink from a paper cup, It’s getting bad

Amidst all the social tumult, the United States also prepared for the bicentennial of its revolutionary birth. It was a much needed shot of enthusiasm to reinvigorate the triumphant American spirit which was on a prolonged vacation after such harrowing gut checks.

Once the capital of the United States, New York City reflected this strange dichotomy of enthusiasm and desperation. Crime and poverty were rising for the five boroughs, but so were the magnificent Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. The social grime that created miserable hardship also was giving birth to the vibrant expressions of disco and hip-hop.

The dichotomy even extended to basketball. The New York Knickerbockers were falling off the turnip truck, while the New York Nets were riding high.

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Ship Ahoy! The 1979 San Diego Clippers

raisingirl21 (flickr)

The final years of the Buffalo Braves were a despondent set of circumstances. Abysmal ticket sales and a perilous financial situation enveloped the franchise. A concurrent fire sale of Hall of Fame and All-NBA talent was also taking place. From 1976 through 1978, Buffalo discarded Bob McAdoo, Jim McMillian, Adrian Dantley, and Moses Malone. Whether the chicken of financial peril caused the egg of this revolving door of trades or the other way around may never truly be known. But the death of the Braves was sealed when their owner John Y. Brown conducted the most important trade in franchise history by actually trading his franchise with Celtics owner Irv Levin. Brown took off for Beantown, while Levin took off as well, not for western New York, though. He quickly absconded to his native southern California and rechristened the Buffalo Braves the San Diego Clippers.

The 1st order of the Clippers was to conduct yet another trade with the Celtics, one that would drastically makeover both clubs. The Clippers sent Tiny Archibald, Billy Knight and a draft pick that would become Danny Ainge to Boston for center Kevin Kunnert, forwards Kermit Washington and Sidney Wicks, and swingman Freeman Williams.

In Kunnert the Clippers received a backup center who could mix it up on the boards in tandem or in relief of their starter Swen Nater. The Dutchman Nater was coming off a spectacular final season in Buffalo where he produced 15.5 points and 13 rebounds a game. Standing beside both these men would be the magnificent Kermit Washington, a burly and gritty power forward who was perhaps the most tenacious, if not best, rebounder at that position in the league.

Filling out the forward spots would be veteran Nick Weatherspoon and the newly acquired Wicks. Both men approaching their final years in the NBA, but Weatherspoon had always been a journeyman scrounging out a living as a backup, while Wicks was a former Rookie of the Year and one of the most astounding players of the early 1970s. By decade’s end, though, he’d fallen into the role of reserve after disgruntled years in Portland and his dispassionate stay in Boston.

In the backcourt, San Diego could rely on the Iron Man of the NBA, the venerable Randy Smith. Between 1972 and 1982, Smith set a record of 906 consecutive games played. Although pushing 30, the guard was still quick, explosive and athletic. He was also the last link to the franchise’s glory years in the mid-1970s.

With this tentative roster set, the Clippers tapped Gene Shue as their head coach in August of 1978. Although he was the NBA’s active leader in coaching wins, thanks to stints in Philly and Baltimore, Shue was aware the task at hand in the Pacific Division was a monumental one:

“… San Diego finds itself in a bracket in which every team – Los Angeles, Phoenix, Golden State, Seattle and Portland – had winning seasons last year.

‘That’s major problem – the unbelievable competition.'”

Shue nonetheless promised an uptempo, enjoyable brand of basketball for the San Diego fans, while also believing that the key to Clipper success was Sidney Wicks returning to his all-star form and also on finding backcout help for Randy Smith and rookie Freeman Williams. In Wicks, an all-star form would not return, but the backcourt help would arrive…

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When Celtics vs. Hawks Meant Excitement

Editor’s note: this article was originally written during the horrific Celtics-Hawks playoff series of Spring 2012

via St. Louis Sports History

The past two weeks, the cries of basketball fans everywhere have pleaded for the horrendous Boston Celtics – Atlanta Hawks 1st round series to end. Despite these pleas, the basketball gods willed that that contest continue for 6 excruciating games. Mercifully, it ended Thursday but in a typically painful way: mismanaged calls by refs and missed free throws by players.

However, Celtics vs. Hawks wasn’t always cause for concern. In fact, back in the late 1950s and early 1960s, it was the best match-up around in the NBA. To be precise, from 1957 to 1961, the St. Louis Hawks and the Boston Celtics met in the NBA Finals 4 times. There was plenty of in-game heroics and pre-game shenanigans to entertain all during this stretch, but that first clash in 1957 was perhaps the best.

There was oodles of back story, intrigue and, most importantly, delightful on-court play.

Seeds of a Rivalry

The antipathy between this New England city and Missouri burgh begins where all great rivalries do… the Tri-Cities of Iowa and Illinois.

Actually, let’s back this train up a bit further. The story begins in Buffalo, New York. It is there where Ben Kerner, a local businessman, established the Buffalo Bisons in the National Basketball League (NBL) in that league’s 1946-47 season, its 11th. Also started that year was the upstart Basketball Association of America (BAA). Unimportant right now, but hold that thought on the BAA.

Kerner’s experiment with pro basketball in Buffalo ended like all previous attempts did: failure. There had been two previous incarnations of “Buffalo Bisons” that went up in smoke. There was one in the American Basketball League of the 1920s and a previous one in the NBL (then known as the Midwest Basketball Conference) during the mid-1930s. Both attempts collapsed after a single season. This newest attempt by Kerner didn’t even last that long. The team suffering from horrendous attendance bolted for Moline, Illinois after 13 games.

Now, I know we’ve all contemplated packing our bags and moving to Moline for a fresh start, however Kerner actually went through with this plan not only because Buffalo was terrible for attendance, but Moline was excellent for it. 3 weeks before the move, a neutral site game between the Chicago Gears (with George Mikan) and Indianapolis Kautskys had drawn over 4,000 fans. That was stellar attendance and Kerner took note and thus the Tri-Cities Blackhawks were born.

Sidenote: Ben Kerner this season employed Hall of Famer William “Pop” Gates as a Blackhawk. Gates was African-American. In fact, the NBL occasionally had been using black players for years, predating Jackie Robinson in MLB.

Over the next couple of seasons, the Blackhawks were an above average team always making the playoffs in the NBL and the times seemed decent. Then along came a merger with the BAA in 1950 that created the NBA. The NBL had primarily been located in modest-sized Midwestern cities, while the BAA was in larger East Coast locales. The merger set in motion economic forces that would move the Blackhawks from the Tri-Cities of Moline, Davenport and Rock Port to Milwaukee, Wisconsin (renamed just “Hawks”) and then finally to St. Louis in order to financially compete with the old BAA teams in New York, Philadelphia and Boston. Not that any of those teams were rolling in dough. No one in professional basketball was then. But these moves were the difference between life and death for Kerner.

Before leaving the Tri-Cities, though, Kerner employed a plucky coach with a loud mouth and an enormous chip on his shoulder: Arnold “Red” Auerbach.

Although only 32, Auerbach, already had a good track record as coach with the Washington Capitals before arriving in the Tri-Cities in 1950, the year of the NBL-BAA merger. With the Caps in the BAA, Auerbach had amassed a .684 win percentage overall and a single-season win percentage of .817 in 1947. That would not be bested until the 1967 76ers. Auerbach had also demonstrated a keen touch in making personnel decisions in Washington.

Upon being hired in the Tri-Cities, Auerbach extracted from Kerner a promise to leave him total control over personnel. As you may guess, that pledge was quickly broken by Kerner who meddled in affairs and ultimately drove Red from the Tri-Cities after just one season. The broken promise and their clash of personalities, however, had cast the dye for the vitriol of the 1957 NBA Finals.

via bestsportsphotos.com

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If You’re Gone: The Bucks and Lakers Rivalry That Never Was

Photo via NBA.com/bucks

Every great team needs a foil, a rival… someone to push them to greater heights. The Los Angeles Lakers of the 1980s are most remembered for their rivalry with the Boston Celtics. They met in 3 NBA Finals with the Lakers winning 2 series to 1. Rare groove hoops fans may recall the Lakers and Sixers meeting in 3 Finals during the decade too, with the same results for LA: 2 wins, 1 loss. What Los Angeles was missing though was an in-conference rival. The Lakers only saw Boston and Philly twice during the regular season. Boston and Philly however bludgeoned each other 13 times in 1981 alone in the playoffs and regular season. That goes from rivalry to blood feud.

If you’re gone, then I’ll know why I need someone

Those are the words not so much of love, but of need spoken by the Lakers to their Western Conference rival that never quite materialized. In 1980 when Showtime started humming, the Milwaukee Bucks too were on the ascension. The Lakers finished 60 – 22 on the season, the Bucks 49 – 33. However, they split their 6 regular season meetings and the Bucks came within one game of renewing the festivities in the Western Conference Finals, but fell to Seattle in 7 games in the semi-finals, losing the final two games by a combined 5 points. It’s the closest they got to meeting the Lakers in the postseason.

If I stand alone, understanding what is now

Alone the Lakers would stand in the West, missing that rival. In 1981, the Bucks were whisked away to the Eastern Conference to make room for the expansion Mavericks. Milwaukee immediately ripped off 60 wins and would win the Central Division crown every year through 1986. They would win 50+ games every year through 1987. In 1983, 1984 and 1986 they reached the Eastern Conference Finals. The troika of Boston, Milwaukee and Philadelphia turned into a merciless meat grinder. 6 games a piece against the other teams every regular season plus a combined 13 playoff series against each other in an 8 year span. Absolutely no rest for the weary.

If you’re gone, then there is nothing that remains

Indeed, nothing remained in the West for L.A. The Rockets pounced on them, shockingly, in 1981 winning a best-of-3 miniseries. But that was a fluke. The 1986 Rockets on the other hand, were destined to be the Lakers’ rival or even slayer, demolishing them in 5 games in the conference finals. Sadly, nose candy and injuries enveloped Houston, again clearing a path for L.A. Not until the Portland Trailblazers got it together in 1990 did a team seriously contest the Lakers for more than a season.

The vaporization of this potential Lakers-Bucks rivalry is a travesty for us all. In the early 80s, we missed Bob Lanier and Kareem battling down low. Marques Johnson and Jamaal Wilkes going at it. Norm Nixon getting muscled by Quinn Buckner. Then as the teams morphed in the mid-80s you’d still get Jack Sikma tangling with Jabbar. Paul Pressy and Byron Scott roaming the perimeter. James Worthy and Terry Cummings dueling at power forward. Ricky Pierce gunning off the bench. And through it all, the finest defender of the decade, Sidney Moncrief, going toe-to-toe with Magic Johnson.

If I need you, to me you’re everything

Instead, everything we remember most about the Showtime Lakers arises from their appearances in the Finals. How they got there remains overlooked. There are no harrowing tales of Western Conference tribulation or trepidation. The Celtics, Sixers and later the Pistons, meanwhile, all proved the journey is as important as the destination.

If the daylight can be hidden by the sun

As plain as day, the Bucks were there all along the way for their Eastern rivals, but Milwaukee never finished the trip to the Finals. Always, they were squeezed out by the Celtics or Sixers and later the Pistons. For that, they are squeezed out of memory. A player who spearheaded 7 straight 50+ win seasons sits outside the Hall of Fame. A coach who engineered 540 wins, 7 division titles and a .610 win percentage is recalled for quixotic moves in Golden State and Dallas. Alas…

If Dallas hadn’t moseyed into town

If Milwaukee had stayed in the West

If Moncrief had thrown down a tomahawk on Magic

If Jabbar bounced his former club on a sweeping skyhook

If instead of losing to Philly in 7 in the Eastern semis, the Bucks slayed them in 6 in the Finals

If…

Forgotten Warriors: Sunset in Philadelphia

Photo by MikeBehnken via Flickr

“What did I get the most thrill out of? It was winning the championship. Individual honors are nice but it’s not like winning. Winning and making a positive contribution is, I think, the most satisfying thing I’ve ever experienced. It’s just a shame we couldn’t have kept that team.”

- Paul Arizin on the 1956 NBA champion Warriors

No matter how great three players are, they cannot write, tell or compose the whole story of a franchise. Before their move to San Francisco in 1962, the Philadelphia Warriors revolved around the trio of Joe Fulks, Neil Johnston and Arizin, but there was certainly more talent in the fold. Those three men played with of some of the finest players of the era and even a couple of other hall of famers and all-time greats.

There was PF/C Woody Sauldsberry. After college ball at Texas Southern University and a stint with the Harlem Globetrotters, Sauldsberry was the 60th pick in the 1957 draft and would surprise everyone by turning in 12.8 points and 9.4 rebounds in his three seasons with the Warriors from 1958 to 1960. His unexpected play made the transition from Neil Johnston to Wilt Chamberlain smoother than it otherwise would have been. An all-star in 1959, he remains to this day the lowest draft pick to ever win Rookie of the Year. And my goodness, does he have a story to tell that sadly reminds of the racism, particularly of the St. Louis Hawks, in the 1950s and 1960s NBA.

Youngsters Tom Meschery and Al Attles made some noise in Philly that would soon become a cacophony when the Warriors moved west. Meschery debuted in the Warriors’ last season in Philly to the tune of 12 points and 9 rebounds. The eventual all-star wasn’t the least bit gun shy that postseason averaging 20 points and 11.5 rebounds as the Warriors went down in 7 games to Boston in the Eastern Finals. Tom also has a personal story worth reading up on. Spending part of your childhood in a Japanese prison during World War II tends to warrant a read.

Attles was a defensive pit bull (nicknamed the Destroyer) with the crew cut to match. He spent two seasons in Philadelphia and would be with the Warriors organization until 1970 as a player, then was coach (winning the 1975 NBA title) until 1983 and was a team executive until… well, until the present. It’s 50 years and going strong for Attles and the Warriors.

Philly native Guy Rodgers was another of the late-50s youngbloods that re-invigorated the Warriors following Neil Johnston’s retirement. The point guard would eventually play in 4 all-star games and lead the league in assists twice. And if anyone can take a heap of credit for aiding Wilt Chamberlain in his 100-point game it was Rodgers who dished out 20 assists that night in Hershey, PA. Rodgers accomplished a Wiltonian feat of his very own the next season in 1963 when he dished out 28 assists to tie Bob Cousy’s single-game record.

Jack George was the man that Rodgers succeeded in the Philadelphia backcourt. Not as dynamic as Rodgers, George was nonetheless the steady hand that routinely gave 12 points, 5.5 assists and 4 rebounds a night. 1956 was his third pro season and his banner campaign. He averaged career highs of 14 points and 6.3 assists, led the league in minutes played, made his first of two all-star teams and earned his only All-NBA selection. His ascension perhaps explains the Warriors’ breakout as NBA champions that year.

Or maybe it was rookie F/G Tom Gola who put Philly over the top in 1956. Debuting with 11 points, 9 rebounds and 6 assists per game, he would remain an all-around presence to fill in the holes in Philadelphia as his play barely wavered from that rookie campaign. During his 400 games in Philadelphia, Gola averaged 13.5 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists, made three straight All-Star games (1960-62) and was a member of the 1958 All-NBA 2nd Team.

The final big piece on the ’56 title team was PF Joe Graboski (a name that screams early 50s NBA). He was the third player to enter the NBA straight from high school back in the 1948-49 season with the Chicago Stags. Taken in by the Warriors in 1953, Joe never appeared in an all-star and his shooting percentage was atrocious, but he bruised with the best of them down low. In his six seasons as a starter (1954 – 1959), Graboski averaged 14 points and 10 rebounds.

And the man that sent Graboski to the Philly bench in the 1959-60 season was none other than the Big Dipper, Wilt Chamberlain. It was as a Philadelphia Warrior that Wilt set the single-season records for points per game (50.4), rebounds per game (27.2) and minutes per game (48.5). In 1961 he was the first Warrior and NBA player to shoot above 50% from the field for an entire season.

Of these Philadelphia Warriors greats, only those who spent time in the Bay Area (Chamberlain, Attles, and Merschery) have been recognized by the Warriors franchise with jersey retirements. That’s Golden State’s prerogative, of course, but I disagree with it. Even the Kings have done justice to their previous stops and have jersey numbers retired from their Rochester, Cincinnati, Kansas City and Omaha days.

It’s particularly galling with Arizin who is still splattered all over the Warriors’ record books. He’s top five in games (4th), minutes (3rd), field goals made (4th), free throws made (1st), rebounds (5th), points (3rd), and win shares (2nd). If he stands no chance, the others certainly don’t.

Not that most of these fellows would be around to bask in their own glory. Joe Fulks was murdered in 1976. Neil Johnston passed away in 1978. Jack George exited this world in 1989. Arizin, Chamberlain, Rodgers, Graboski and Sauldsberry have left us too in the past dozen years. Of these greats, only Attles, Gola and Meschery can still attest what it meant to be a Philadelphia Warrior.

And make no doubt about it, they were great times. 16 years, 12 playoffs, 6 Eastern Finals appearances, 3 NBA Finals appearances and 2 titles. As individuals these men collected 27 All-Star games, 18 All-NBA teams, 10 scoring titles, 4 rebounding titles, 2 Rookie of the Year awards and 1 MVP. That’s quite a nice haul from some pretty nice players…