ProHoopsHistory HOF: Chris Webber

Chris Webber
Chris Webber

For 15 NBA seasons, Chris Webber silently put together one of the best careers in NBA history. If the actual merits of his achievement remained but a deft whisper, there was nonetheless a lot of noise surrounding it.

Coming out of college, Webber was the most prominent member of the University of Michigan’s Fab Five. His talent and the hype surrounding that fabled squad bolted Webber to the top of the draft board in 1993 and the Orlando Magic took him #1 overall. However, he was quickly traded to the Golden State Warriors in exchange for the draft rights to Penny Hardaway. This inaugural experience set a big tone for Webber’s career…

Highly coveted, but often traded.

He lasted one year with the Warriors as the ultimate dream for Don Nelson’s small ball center, but the two men didn’t see the least bit eye-to-eye. Webber was traded to the Washington Bullets after his rookie season and he was reunited with his college teammate Juwan Howard. His time in DC was rocked by injuries, but in 1997 he put together one of his finest campaigns and led the Bullets to the playoffs for the first time in ages. But as an 8th seed, they were ravaged by the Chicago Bulls.

After the 1998 season, Webber was shipped back west to northern California. The Sacramento Kings gave up Mitch Richmond for Webber. What he did for the Bullets was amplified for the Kings. He pushed that franchise to their highest point since moving from Kansas City in the mid-1980s. They became perennial playoff participants and in 2002 were moments away from the NBA Finals. A searing, controversial loss to the Los Angeles Lakers ultimately blocked the Kings’ path.

That ’02 season was the last truly monumental season Webber put together. Over the ensuing years, he’d play well, but he’d also play increasingly injured. In 2002 he missed 28 games. In 2003 he was out for 15 games. Then in 2004 he missed all but 23 games due to a knee injury. The Kings traded the damaged Webber to the Philadelphia 76ers where Chris amazingly put together a 20/10 season on one good leg. But he shot just 43% from the field in the process clearly showing he was withering.

His final two seasons (2007, 2008) were spent split between Philly, Detroit, and back in Golden State.

The slow limping Webber of these seasons was nothing like the dynamic force of the 1990s and early 2000s. When so inclined, especially in his Warriors and Bullets days, he was a menacing dunker. He was always a great rebounder. He could rain in points with his superb jumper. And best of all he was an amazing passer. Watching him and Vlade Divac pass in and out of the post is one of the greatest basketball joys one could ever imagine.

The effervescent joy that came with those passes was always fleetingly around the corner when i came to Webber’s career, though. No doubt a Hall of Famer. No doubt a super talent. But there was so much of Webber left on the table for various reasons that his career nonetheless remains a bit unsatisfying.

It’s moments like these, however, where it’s wise to appreciate what we receive and what we’re given. When that sage advice is followed, we can indeed fully appreciate the greatness of Chris Webber.

Years Played: 1993 – 2008

Accolades

NBA -
Rookie of the Year (1994)
All-NBA 1st Team (2001)
3x All-NBA 2nd Team (1999, 2002-’03)
All-NBA 3rd Team (2000)
5x All-Star (1997, 2000-’03)
All-Rookie 1st Team (1994)

Statistics

NBA - 831 Games
20.7 PPG, 9.8 RPG, 4.2 APG, 1.4 BPG, 1.4 SPG, 47.9% FG, 64.9% FT
RPG Leader (1999)

Contemporary NBA Ranks (1993-94 through 2006-07 season)
7th Points, 14th PPG
6th FGs Made, 32nd FG%
36th FTs Made
7th Rebounds, 10th RPG
11th Steals, 20th SPG
14th Blocks, 17th BPG
25th Assists, 31st APG
34th Games Played, 13th Minutes Played

ProHoopsHistory HOF: Bernard King

Basketball  Professional   Game  Action

Of the great scoring forwards in the 1980s, none began with as much promise as Bernard King. That promising beginning quickly gave way to hardship then a road back to redemption. A wash-rinse-repeat cycle occurred in the middle of King’s career where glory again gave way to pain, but he once again resurrected himself.

The Promise
Bernard started his NBA career with the New Jersey Nets and did so in incredible, spectacular fashion. His 24.2 points per game as a rookie is tied for 3rd-most by a 1st-year player since the NBA-ABA merger in 1976. He also cleaned the glass every night with an average of 9.5 rebounds per game. The Nets were a pretty awful team, though, and his efforts were mostly for naught. A follow up campaign of 22 points and 8 rebounds a game lifted the Nets to a 37-45 record, which proved just good enough for the playoffs. King was the hub of the Nets attack but they were handily discarded by the Philadelphia 76ers. It would be another four years before Bernard again appeared in the postseason.

The Fall
King was traded by the Nets to the Utah Jazz following the 1979 season. His stay in Utah was brief and brutal. Alcohol problems, which had occurred in college, resurfaced for King and off the court legal troubles stemming from accusations of sexual assault derailed his season. From the 10 charges, King copped a plea deal for one count of misdemeanor sexual assault, King was rightfully suspended by the Jazz and appeared in only 19 games in the 1979-80 season. Over the years King would intermittently face yet more accusations of abusing women.

The more famous and chronicled fall of Bernard King came in 1985 when he blew out his ACL. It would take King nearly two years of rehabilitation to return to the NBA. And from that return to the court in 1987 it would take several more seasons for him to return fully to his peak form.

The Resurrection
King’s first resurrection came in a trade to the Golden State Warriors following the 1979-80 season. For the 1980-81 Warriors, King shot a career-high 59% from the field on his way to averaging 21 points a night, a great improvement on his 9 PPG for the Jazz. In 1982, King was named an All-Star for the first time in his career and would also be named to the All-NBA 2nd Team.

For the 1982-83 season, King found himself traded to his hometown New York Knicks. That season was a good one for King, but his greatest basketball triumphs lay just around the corner.

King of NYC

The 1983-84 Knicks were an average team that possessed a whirlwind force in King. He averaged a new career-high of 27 points per game and finished second in MVP voting behind Larry Bird. In the postseason, King engaged in a legendary evisceration of opposing defenses. Against the Detroit Pistons in the 1st Round, King averaged 42.6 points per game while shooting 60% from the field. Against the Boston Celtics in round 2, Bernard “simmered down” to just 29 points a game on 54.5% shooting. The caged King still pushed Boston to the brink as the Celtics needed seven games to dismiss the upstart Knicks.

Unbelievably, King’s 1984 postseason form continued unabated during the 1984-85 regular season. BK averaged 33 points a night and was named to his second-straight All-NBA 1st Team. In back-to-back-to-back games against Cleveland, Detroit, and Indiana, King scored 40 then 45 and then 52 points. He dropped 60 points on 30 shots against the Nets on Christmas Day. In March against Kansas City, King was again decimating the opposition with 37 points on 16-26 shooting, but that was the game he blew out his ACL…

Second Chance at a Second Chance
After the Knicks amazingly showed no interest in King following his return to good health, he signed with the Washington Bullets in October 1987. His scoring average slowly ticked up over the seasons from 17 to 21 to 22 PPG by 1990. King gave his final hurrah in the 1990-91 season. His startling scoring efficiency from the field had dissipated. Instead of routine mid-.500 FG%, King had to settle for just 47% shooting. His free throw shooting, though, had by now reached 80% and his assists per game was at a career-high 4.6. The 34-year old’s points average reached a ridiculous 28.4 by the end of the season.

With his second resurrection complete, King again crumpled with a knee injury and missed all of the 1991-92 season. In 1993 he returned to where his NBA journey began, New Jersey. He gave the Nets 32 games as reserve forward after the All-Star break and then left the NBA for good. His rollercoaster ride of rising and falling was at last over.

Seasons Played: 1978 – 1993

Accolades

NBA -
2x All-NBA 1st Team (1984-’85)
All-NBA 2nd Team (1982), All-NBA 3rd Team (1991)
4x All-Star (1982, 1984-’85, 1991)
All-Rookie 1st Team (1978)

Statistics

NBA - 874 Games
22.5 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 3.3 APG, 1.0 SPG, 51.8% FG, 73.0% FT
PPG Leader (1985)

Contemporary NBA Ranks (1978 – 1993)
9th Points, 11th PPG
9th FGs Made, 28th FG%
14th FTs Made
20th Minutes Played, 34th Games Played

ProHoopsHistory HOF: Wes Unseld

(nba.com)
(nba.com)

The outlet pass and Wes Unseld go together like peanut butter and jelly, like Peaches & Herb.

The moment Wes captured a rebound, wheeled his mammoth body around, instantly surveyed the court, and caught a teammate speeding down court, was the moment the opponent was practically doomed to ceding 2 points.

That moment happened often in Unseld’s career. With an average of 14 rebounds per game, Unseld ruled the glass. He also ruled several other facets of the game. He stood only 6’7″ and his blocks per game are paltry, but Unseld was a stern defender on bigger centers who had trouble maneuvering around and moving the stout Wes.

With four assists dished out nightly, Unseld didn’t just throw a good outlet pass, he was great passing in the half court. Bruising opponents with picks was another Unseld claim to fame. In fact just bruising opponents in the course of natural events was Unseld’s way. The man just physically wore you out with his strength and being.

For the Bullets franchise (in all its various incarnations), though, Unseld is really the only bright moment in their long history.

Prior to Unseld (1962 – 1968): 205 – 358 (.364 win percentage)
With Unseld (1969 – 1981): 618 – 448 (.580 win percentage)
After Unseld (1982 – 2013): 1050 – 1526 (.408 win percentage)

The franchise had 10 winning seasons in Unseld’s 13 years and have had eight in the other 39 seasons. There’s a reason why the NBA went positively insane back in 1969 when Unseld lifted the moribund franchise to a league-best 57 wins. He was not only Rookie of the Year, but also MVP that season. The Bullets made the NBA Finals four times in his tenure and won the title in 1978.

He was one of the best leaders in NBA history and despite claims to his lack of talent and athleticism, the man was filled with plenty of both. His career stacks up favorably with just about any great center you can think of.

Seasons Played: 1969 – 1981

Accolades

NBA -
Champion (1978)
MVP (1969)
Finals MVP (1978)
All-NBA 1st Team (1969)
5x All-Star (1969, 1971-’73, 1975)
Rookie of the Year (1969), All-Rookie 1st Team (1969)

Statistics

NBA - 984 Games
10.8 PPG, 14.0 RPG, 3.9 APG, 1.1 SPG, 50.9% FG, 63.3% FT
FG% Leader (1976), RPG Leader (1975)
11th All-Time Rebounds, 6th All-Time RPG

Pro Hoops History HOF: Bob Dandridge

Bob Dandridge (Virginia Sports Hall of Fame)
Bob Dandridge (Virginia Sports Hall of Fame)

Bob Dandridge was a paragon of how swingmen should play basketball. He brought swiftness and hustle on both sides of the court. He guarded some of the 1970s best ballplayers night in and night out to wonderful results. Julius Erving, George Gervin, Jerry West, John Havlicek and others felt the lithe wrath of Dandridge’s defense. Of course, one never shuts down players of that caliber, but Dandridge more often than not held them in relative check.

On offense Dandridge was nicknamed “The Greyhound” for his superb ability to leak out on fastbreaks and finish with effortless layups. If the break happened to be stymied, or never existed, Dandridge possessed a sweet midrange jump shot to wreck opposing defenses. He also utilized controlled bursts of his lightning speed by making great baseline cuts and curls to strike at the basket.

Dandridge played on two of the best teams of the 1970s: the Milwaukee Bucks and Washington Bullets.

His Bucks heyday was during the first half of the decade where made a surprising appearance on the All-Rookie 1st Team after being taken 45th overall in the 1969 draft. A mere afterthought, basically. He would help guide the Bucks to the title in 1971 and another Finals appearance in 1974. Joining the Bullets for the 1977-78 season, Dandridge repeated his Milwaukee success with a title in 1978 and another Finals appearance in 1979. His veteran savvy was the final missing piece for a Bullets team that routinely flamed out in the postseason before his arrival.

He’s one of the few players in NBA history to average 20 or more points per game in 3 or more NBA Finals series. That illustrates that when the going got tough, Dandridge raised his level of play. He remains supremely under-appreciated even by the Bucks who have yet to retire his jersey number even though Dandridge litters their all-time records and has played more minutes than any person in Bucks history.

In his own playing days Dandridge wasn’t lauded all that much. He made a mere three All-Star teams, a single All-NBA team, and only one appearance on the All-Defensive team. Dandridge is an exemplary case of how the accolades and recognition don’t always measure up to the contributions a player actually made and the greatness they actually achieved.

For more on Dandridge’s Hall of Fame worthy career go here.

Years Played: 1969 – 1982

Accolades

NBA -
2x Champion (1971, 1978)
All-NBA 2nd Team (1979)
All-Defensive 1st Team (1979)
4x All-Star (1973, 1975-’76, 1979)

Statistics

NBA – 839 Games
18.5 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 3.4 APG, 1.3 SPG, 0.6 BPG, 48.4% FG, 78.0% FT

Contemporary NBA Ranks 1969-70 through 1981-82 season)
9th Points, 30th PPG
5th FGs Made, 26th FTs Made
17th Rebounds
22nd Assists
30th Steals*
33rd Blocks*
10th Games Played, 7th Minutes Played

*Stat not kept until the 1973-74 season

Pro Hoops History HOF: Elvin Hayes

Elvin Hayes (celtic-nation.com)
Elvin Hayes (celtic-nation.com)

The Big E is the only player in NBA history to have played 50,000 minutes.

Oh sure, three other players have played more minutes than that, but none have played exactly 50,000 minutes like Elvin. That kind of monumental memorability was something typical of Hayes’ career. As a college standout at the University of Houston, Hayes helped defeat the juggernaut UCLA Bruins led by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in the Game of the Century played in the Astrodome (which was the world’s 8th Wonder at the time).

As a rookie, Hayes led the NBA in points per game with a sterling 28.4 starring for the San Diego Rockets. The next season he led the league in rebounds with a sizzling 16.9 per game. That same year he led the league in minutes played per game with an exhausting 44.7.

However, the Rockets were a dud on the court. A move to Houston in time for the 1971-72 season didn’t help. Hayes was traded to the Bullets in the 1972 off-season and found much greater success. Formerly a center, the Big E slid now slid to power forward beside center Wes Unseld. Hayes was the shot-blocking rim protector while Unseld was immovable object that clogged the physical space of the defensive lane. They complemented each other perfectly.

The two stars propelled Washington to three Finals appearances in the decade (1975, 1978, 1979) and captured the 1978 NBA title after the addition of Bobby Dandridge and outstanding coach Dick Motta. All the while, Hayes continued to rack up the prodigious stats thanks to his lathe-like frame, his proficient mid-range jump shot, and his shot-blocking ability.

Upon his retirement in 1984 after a second-stint with the Houston Rockets, the Big E ranked 3rd all-time in points, rebounds and blocks. And of course his minutes played were the most at that time. So were his games played.

These prodigious stats certainly don’t mean Elvin was perfect or without fault. He had a tendency to shrink a little bit in big playoff games. His shooting percentage was a bit low for a power forward. His free throw percentage a tad woeful. But these nitpicks are just that, nitpicks.

He’s one of the handful of truly great power forwards in the game’s history… even if we tend to forget that fact.


(more videos from Oakley and Allen)

Years Played: 1968 – 1984

Accolades

NBA -
Champion (1978)
3x All-NBA 1st Team (1975, 1977, 1979)
3x All-NBA 2nd Team (1973-74, 1976)
2x All-Defensive 2nd Team (1974-75)
All-Rookie Team (1969)
12x All-Star (1969-80)

Statistics

NBA Career  (1968-69 through 1983-84)
Peak Career Production (1968-69 through 1979-80)

Average and Advanced Stats

Stat Career Playoff Peak Peak Rank
Games 1303 96 978 1st
PPG 21.0 22.9 23.6 5th
RPG 12.5 13.0 14.2 3rd
APG 1.8 1.9 2.0 124th
SPG 0.97 1.14 1.17 48th
BPG 1.98 2.61 2.44 4th
TS% 0.491 0.501 0.491 143rd
2PT% 0.453 0.464 0.451 128th
3PT% 0.147 0.000 0.231 88th
FT% 0.670 0.652 0.673 173rd
PER 17.7 19.1 18.5 20th
WS/48 0.116 0.135 0.127 42nd
Ortg 101 102 102
Drtg 97 96 94

Aggregate Stats

Stat Career Playoff Peak Peak Rank
Games 1303 96 978 1st
Minutes 50000 4160 40741 1st
Points 27313 2194 23108 2nd
Rebounds 16279 1244 13867 1st
Assists 2398 185 1927 58th
Steals 864 97 668 24th
Blocks 1771 222 1387 3rd
2PTs 10971 883 9291 2nd
3PTs 5 0 3 77th
FTs 5356 428 4523 1st
WS 120.8 11.7 108 3rd

 

Steals, Blocks, SPG, BPG, and Drtg not kept until 1973-74
Ortg not kept until 1977-78
3PTs and 3PT% not kept until 1979-80

The Lowdown: Kevin Porter

Years Active: 1973 – 1983
Career Stats: 659 games, 29.0 mpg
11.6 ppg, 8.1 apg, 1.8 rpg, 1.4 spg, 48.3%FG, 73.7% FT
Postseason Stats: 33 games, 29.4 mpg
11.0 ppg, 5.8 apg, 2.1 rpg, 1.1 spg, 46.3% FG, 64.9% FT
Accolades: 4x APG Leader (1975, 1978-79, 1981)

Porter dishing it off to Bob Dandridge
Porter dishing it off to Bob Dandridge

Kevin Porter tossed in 30 points and dished off 17 assists yesterday to pace the New Jersey Nets to a surprisingly easy, 106-95 victory over the Washington Bulles in National basketball Association action.

Via “Porter Paces Nets’ Victory” by the Associated Press

Kevin Porter was one of the purest passers the NBA has ever seen. The purity of his assists were equally matched by the chaotic turns his career took due to injury and bewildering trades. The winding path his career took conspired to obscure some of the truly masterful accomplishments of Porter. Normally, I like to narrate from start to finish a player’s career, but with Porter that’s simply not possible. Each theme must be teased and explained on its own. A simple, progressive Point A to Point B story just won’t do.

The No-Name Bullets: Disruptive to any sort of continuity is the lack of a stable name. Kevin Porter didn’t go about changing his name every day of the week, but it sure seemed the Bullets franchise did. Kevin spent five full seasons with them and they had 3 different monikers: Baltimore, Capital, and Washington. So, understandably, Washington Wizards fans of today may have a hard time identifying with Kevin Porter of the Capital Bullets even if he is the best “pure” point guard the franchise has ever had.

(Arguments for Rod Strickland can be entertained; there’s nothing pure about Gilbert Arenas)

On the move: Further obfuscating the Porter legacy is that he never stayed in one place too long. 8 full seasons and he never played for a singular location for more than 2 years. In his first three seasons, the Bullets did their Baltimore to Capital to Washington dance. Then for two seasons he was with Detroit. Then was traded to New Jersey for a year. New Jersey then traded him back to Detroit for a season. Finally Porter enjoyed free agency and returned to the Bullets. Even vagabonds don’t move around that often.

Hurt: You may have noticed that I mentioned Porter playing in 8 full seasons. Two devastating injuries obliterated an entire season and cut two others much too short. A cartilage tear in his knee derailed his debut season with Detroit in 1975-76 after only 19 games. The following year, the Motor City used Porter for a spare 26 minutes a game instead of the 36 he received before the injury. Debilitating  injury struck again during Bullets training camp in October 1981. Porter snapped his Achilles tendon and missed all of the 1981-82 season and appeared in just 11 games in 1982-83, effectively ending his career.

Dime Machine: Despite the tempest, Kevin Porter remained a top notch passer. Four times he led the league in assists per game. Furthermore, Porter was a stud in assist percentage, which is the estimated number of FGs a player assisted while on the court. Six different seasons (1975, 1977 – 1981) Porter led the league in AST% and his career average of 37.5% is 14th all-time. Porter is the only PG near the top of the board who played during the 70s. In 1978, his moonlight season with New Jersey, Porter decided to make the experience memorable by breaking the record for assists in a single game:

Porter dished out 29 assists… and most of those handouts went to John Williamson and Bernard King, who scored 39 and 35 points respectively to help New Jersey down the Houston Rockets 126 – 122.

“He was just magnificent,” said New Jersey coach Kevin Loughery. “I’ve never seen anyone do quite as well as he did tonight.”

Scott Skiles has since tallied 30 assists establishing a new high, but I doubt we’re sneezing at Porter’s display. Kevin’s offensive contributions were not merely relegated to dishing the ball, either. He maintained a remarkably high shooting percentage for a point guard (48%) and was known to explode in a timely fashion despite his career average of just 11.6 ppg:

Little Kevin Porter went on a scoring binge in the final quarter Sunday to lead the Washington Bullets to a 98-92 victory over the Boston Celtics, clinching the Eastern Conference championship.

Porter, a 5-foot-11 playmaker, scored 13 of his 21 points in the final quarter… Porter also had 11 assists, nine of them in the first half when Washington went ahead, 55-40. “They were gambling quite a bit,” Porter said. “And when they do, you have to take it to the hoop. Hopefully, you draw a foul or they come after you and you can dish it off.”

Knowing when to dish it out, knowing when to take it to the rack to salvage victory for the team. These are the hallmarks of a great point guard. Kevin Porter is assuredly one of those being the first player to record 1000 assists in a single season and is also (as far as my research shows) the only player to record a 25 point-25 assist game. Sadly, sometimes such talent doesn’t get the appropriate stage or setting to illustrate its greatness for all to see and remember.

The Lowdown: Bernard King

Regular Season: 874 games, 22.5 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 3.3 APG, 0.3 BPG, 1.0 SPG, 51.8% FG, 73.0% FT
Playoffs: 28 games, 24.5 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 2.3 APG, 0.2 BPG, 0.9 SPG, 55.9% FG, 72.9% FT
Accolades: 2x All-NBA 1st Team (1984-85), All-NBA 2nd Team (1982), All-NBA 3rd Team (1991)
All-Rookie 1st Team (1978), 4x All-Star (1982, 1984-85, 1991)

Bernard King is one of the greatest scorers in NBA history. He didn’t do much else extremely well, but when you excel at a singular talent so well, it deserves recognition. And his determination to continue his career in the face of troubling personal failings (a bout with alcoholism and a sexual assault conviction) and hellish injury (destroying his right ACL) add more to his legacy.

The key to King’s scoring acumen was his tremendously quick release on his jump shot that prevented defenders from bothering it. There was also the quirky fact that he shot the ball as he was going up, leaving defenders further bewildered. He also was the master of positioning his body to seal off defenders and to quickly rise up before the opponent could recover. Having a tremendously big butt to maneuver the opposition didn’t hurt either.

King’s basketball journey began on the courts of Brooklyn, New York where he became one of the greatest playground legends the city ever saw.  Moving south to the University of Tennessee for college ball, King instantly made an impact averaging 26 points and 12 rebounds his freshman year (1974-75). Over the next three seasons, the small forward would team with Ernie Grunfeld in the “Bernie and Ernie Show”. King’s time would be marked by on-court showmanship, but also off court issues. During his time in Knoxville, King was arrested for marijuana possession, drunk driving and reckless driving.

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The Lowdown: Bobby Dandridge

Regular Season: 18.5 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 3.4 APG, 1.3 SPG, 0.6 BPG, 48.4% FG, 78% FT
Playoffs: 20.1 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 3.7 APG, 1.2 SPG, 0.7 BPG, 48% FG, 76.1% FT
Accolades: 2nd Team All-NBA (1979), 1st Team All-Defensive (1979)
1st Team All-Rookie (1970), 4x All-Star (1973, 1975-76, 1979)
2 NBA Championships (1971, 1978)

Some of Hall of Fame snubs are well-known travesties or controversies, but others are merely swept under the rug and forgotten. Bob Dandridge is a player who definitely falls into the second category as he was one of the best small forwards of the 1970s. It’s understandable that people years removed from Dandridge’s heyday don’t appreciate his game, but even during his prime he wasn’t quite recognized making only one All-NBA and one All-Defensive team, both in 1979 at the tail end of his career. Perhaps they were recognition that Bob “the Greyhound” had been unjustly overlooked his entire career despite his efficient offense and stifling defense.

Born in Richmond, Virginia, Dandridge would attend Norfolk State University for his collegiate basketball career. During his 3 varsity seasons, Dandridge would dramatically increase his scoring average from 17.4 to 25.5 to 32.3 all while shooting a remarkable 57.8% from the field. He also gobbled up 13 rpg for his college career. Despite such breathtaking numbers, Dandridge fell to the 4th Round of the 1969 NBA Draft where the Milwaukee Bucks selected him with the 45th overall pick. The Bucks also commanded the #1 overall pick in that same draft thanks to their league-worst 27 wins in 1969, which was also their inaugural season. They naturally selected Lew Alcindor (a.k.a. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar).

Loaded with two outstanding rookies, the Bucks surged to a 56-26 record during the regular season and in the Eastern Conference Finals lost in 5 games to the eventual champs, the New York Knicks. In the 1970 offseason, Milwaukee pulled off a dramatic trade sending starting point guard Flynn Robinson to the Cincinnati Royals for the disgruntled Oscar Robertson. Now with a triumvirate for the ages, Milwaukee promptly responded by winning 66 games in 1971 and demolishing the Warriors, Lakers and Bullets on their way to a 12-2 postseason record and the championship.

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