Saying Goodbye to the Twitter

After much personal deliberation, I’ve decided to shutter the Twitter account for Pro Hoops History for a few reasons.

As far as I’m concerned, I’ve done all that I can for this topic through that medium. Maybe if I got paid to do this, it’d be a different story. Oh well. I’ll still maintain my personal Twitter account @curtismharris, where I blabber more about funk music, politics, and Abraham Lincoln. So, if you care about any of that follow me there, I suppose.

More importantly, though, this website will stay up as a source for basketball history. I don’t make much new material anymore, but I do tinker with the posts already made. So, bookmark it and enjoy, if you like.

– Curtis Harris

When NBA Stars Go Back Home

In Sports Illustrated late last week, LeBron James announced he was going home. What success LeBron will have going back home to the Cleveland Cavaliers remains to be seen, but there are comparable precedents. So here I am to help examine previous, notable examples of star players going home… or at least back to the team that first drafted them. And you’ll notice, LeBron is one of the few to have won a title in his pit stop before returning home.

Old and Beat Up – Returning to Your First NBA Team as an Old Man

Bob Dandridge
Bob Dandridge

Bob Dandridge – Won a Title Before Going Back!
Drafted 45th overall by the Milwaukee Bucks in the 1969 Draft, Bob Dandridge went on to become a 3x All-Star with the Bucks from 1969-70 to 1976-77. During this period he averaged 18.8 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 3.2 APG, 1.5 SPG, 48.8% FG and 77.1% FT for the Bucks. The superb small forward was hailed as a defensive stopper and efficient offensive scorer helping Milwaukee to a title in 1971 and another Finals appearance in 1974. In 1977, Dandridge became one of the first star players to change teams via free agency signing with the Washington Bullets. During his first season there, the Greyhound led Washington to an NBA title and helped push them back to the Finals the next season in 1979. At age 34, Dandridge returned to the Bucks in November 1981 but played a mere 11 games before being waived.

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The MemoraBull, VeneraBull and IncredaBull Luol Deng

photo by Keith Allison (Flickr)
photo by Keith Allison (Flickr)

Ending one longtime era and starting a new, certainly different one, the Bulls traded Luol Deng to the Cavaliers late Monday night for center Andrew Bynum and three draft picks.

The Bulls will waive Bynum before the second half of his $12.3 million contract becomes guaranteed on Tuesday. That move will drop them below the luxury-tax threshold in a season in which they no longer are championship contenders after the loss of Derrick Rose to a knee injury, saving them close to $15 million.

So, Luol Deng is gone from the Windy City. The hustling, defending, never-ending Deng always ready to play 40 minutes a night. And Coach Thibs always willing play him those 40 minutes and more.

Playing so many minutes and doing so for nearly a decade in Chicago has made Deng one of the most venerable Chicago Bulls. Other people will do a better job of describing Deng’s on-court impact, so instead of that, I’ll just toss out some perspective via Deng’s franchise ranks in Chicago.

On-court Time
In terms of minutes, only Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and Jerry Sloan have played more minutes in a Bulls uniform than Deng. Unsurprisingly, all three of those players have their jerseys retired by the Bulls. And just behind Deng at #5 on the list is Bob Love, who happens to complete the list of players with jerseys retired by Chicago.

With regard to games played, just Jordan, Pippen, Sloan and John Paxson have suited for more nightly tilts than Luol. Combine the 22,882 minutes played over the course of 637 games and Deng averages 35.9 minutes for each game played as a Bull.

On-court Production
With all that on-court time, Deng obviously will have some significant on-court production. Here are some testaments to his offensive output:

  • Points: 10,286 good enough for 4th all-time
  • Field Goals Made: 3987, 5th all-time
  • Field Goals Attempted: 8675, 5th all-time
  • Free Throws Made: 1925, 8th all-time
  • Free Throws Attempted: 2490, 8th all-time
  • 3-Pointers Made: 387, 7th all-time
  • 3-Pointers Attempted: 1170, 5th all-time

With “hustle” stats Deng also does quite well. He’s got the 5th most steals of any Bull ever with 639 – that puts him behind legendary defenders Jordan, Pippen, and “Stormin’ Norman” Van Lier… and also Kirk Hinrich. Luol also is 8th in total rebounds for the Chicago franchise with 4078.

And all of that production doesn’t measure the kind of defensive acumen and pressure Deng was capable of playing.

Mr. Bull of the 2000s
So, Deng does pretty well all-time in Bulls franchise history but focusing on the period after Michael Jordan retired and the Bulls dynasty collapsed, Luol takes on even greater prominence. Since the 1998-99 season, these are Deng’s ranks in categories:

  • Games – 1st
  • Minutes – 1st
  • Points – 1st
  • Field Goals Made – 1st
  • Free Throws Made – 1st
  • Total Rebounds – 1st
  • Defensive Rebounds – 1st
  • Offensive Rebounds – 2nd
  • Steals – 2nd
  • Assists – 3rd
  • Blocks – 4th
  • 3-Pointers Made – 4th

That’s quite a resume from Deng as he sails on to Cleveland and clearly establishes him as the Mr. Bull of his era. We’ll see in the years to come whether Chicago and NBA fans remember Deng as such.

Remembering Zelmo Beaty

One of the great players in basketball history departed Saturday as Zelmo Beaty passed away at age 73.

The 6’9″ center played from 1962 to 1975 in the NBA and ABA with the St. Louis/Atlanta Hawks, the Utah Stars, and the Los Angeles Lakers. I’ve written many words on Zelmo’s fantastic career and I encourage you to read them:

 – The Original Big Z
– Pro Hoops History Hall of Fame: Zelmo Beaty

However in remembering Zelmo’s career today, I’ve simply decided to select a newspaper headline from every year of his career to demonstrate his greatness and tell a part of his story…

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We Survived… A Wretched Use of American History In A Sport Column

photo courtesy of "A Little Bit of Change"
photo courtesy of “A Little Bit of Change”

Whether or not baseball goes to any expanded use of instant replay isn’t something that raises my ire one way or the other. What does raise my ire is when someone tosses out a bunch of nonsensical rhetoric based upon American history to make their muddled point.

The culprit in this abuse of American history was Charles Hurt.

The whole article haranguing MLB for expanding instant replay begins on a depressingly awful note. The title imagery cloaks itself in asinine Cold War era masculinity: THE NUCLEAR OPTION — America’s Tipping Point: The Impending Baseball Nanny State. This warmongering title is followed up by every Cold War warrior’s favorite masturbatory image… a fireball of nuclear war!

The Nuclear Option3That perspective that Hurt brings to his column is one of unrelenting savagery. But it’s unrelenting savagery that’s sugar-coated, unthinking bravado. As frightening as a fireball of nuclear war is, the aftermath is even more wretched and would make any sane person think twice (or a never) about callously and wantonly creating a recurring article called “The Nuclear Option.”

In reality, the Nuclear Option means death, destruction, cancer, suffering, and devastation. The opening photo to this here article is of Hiroshima after the Nuclear Option was visited upon that city. A Google image search of “Hiroshima after nuclear attack” reveals even more gut-wrenching photos of what a Nuclear Option actually means for humanity.

But moving beyond that horrific opening, there’s the actual substance, if you can call it that, of the article.

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Basketball History GIFs: The Dream slaps the Whopper

Back in Hakeem “the Dream” Olajuwon’s rookie season, the Houston Rockets made the playoffs and tangled with the Utah Jazz. Apparently Hakeem had enough of Jazz center Billy “the Whopper” Paultz

Rockets-Hakeem-Olajuwon-slap-Utah-Jazz-Billy-Paultz

Paultz had the last laugh though. The 15-year veteran center helped lead the Jazz in an upset of the Rockets. In victory Jazz teammate Rich Kelly gave away why Hakeem probably smacked Billy silly: “If there’s one thing Billy and I know how to do, it’s lean on people.”

ProHoopsHistory HOF: Brad Daugherty

Brad Daugherty

The late 1980s and 1990s are heralded as the Age of Center. Hakeem, Robinson, Ewing, and Shaq are the headliners of this period of big men domination. One towering seven-footer who never received their level of acclaim, but was still talented and dominating in his own right was Brad Daugherty.

His domination didn’t achieve the longevity of his contemporaries, though, thanks to a bad back. His troublesome dorsal side knocked him out of the NBA in 1994 at the tender age of 28. Luckily, Daugherty proved an early bloomer. So, despite being a four-year college grad, he entered the NBA at age 20.

Debuting in the league with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 1986, Daugherty was one of three rookies who’d remake the Cavaliers over the next several seasons. Mark Price and Ron Harper were the other two young studs who helped rebuild Cleveland. During the 1987-88 season, the Cavs traded Kevin Johnson for Larry Nance and spurred their rebuild even further along.

Daugherty’s place in all of this was to anchor the offense down low.

He was an immovable surefire rock on the block. The baby-faced Daugherty would use his strength to create a whirlpool of a spin move to devastate defenders. Although he didn’t have the pure leaping ability of teammate Larry Nance, Daugherty loved to finish these moves with a big two-handed slam. And even though he was a wide, big load, Daugherty loved to also run the floor. His mack truck routine ended with some great one-handed dunks.

And for all the love the other centers of his era receive, it’s safe to say none of them ever passed as well as Daugherty. In his eight-year career, he never dipped below 3 assists per game and twice peaked above 4 APG. But it would be just like Daugherty to be the best center at passing. That isn’t a skill centers are truly lauded for. His demeanor was also not exactly one expected of centers. He had Robinson’s aww shucks attitude, but had a thick country drawl that knocked the unsuspecting off-balance.

With Daughety, Price, Nance, and (sometimes) Harper at the helm, the Cavaliers became a East powerhouse that always was thwarted by the Chicago Bulls. Five times the teams tangled in the postseason and five times the Bulls defeated Cleveland. In retrospect it’s no shame that Daugherty could never lead his great team past another one that won three-straight titles.

Also, in retrospect, it should be quite clear that Daugherty was a man who deserves inclusion in every discussion of great centers from any era. He doesn’t muster the longevity, or the astronomically astounding peaks, that men like Hakeem or Shaq maintained. Daugherty, however, did manage to become just one of 10 players to average 19 points, 9 rebounds, and 3.5 assists for a career. That’s something the Diesel and company can only dream of.

Years Played: 1986 – 1994

Cleveland Cavaliers
Cleveland Cavaliers

Accolades

NBA – 
All-NBA 3rd Team (1992)
5x All-Star (1988-’89, 1991-’93)
All-Rookie 1st Team (1987)

Statistics

NBA – 548 Games
19.0 PPG, 9.5 RPG, 3.7 APG, 0.8 SPG, 0.7 BPG, 53.2% FG, 74.7% FT

Contemporary NBA Ranks (1986-87 through 1993-94 season)
19th Points, 22nd PPG
27th FGs Made, 11th FG%
13th FTs Made, 36th Blocks
13th Rebounds, 13th RPG
39th Assists, 35th APG
61st Games Played, 22nd Minutes Played