[A crab cake and egg breakfast with a Bloody Mary and the Free Darko book at the Phillip's in the Baltimore-Washington airport -- no better way to spend time before a delayed flight.]
If you think you know professional basketball history and want to know more … if you faintly know pro ball’s past and want to be re-captured with tales instead of accounts … if you have any level of personal involvement with the NBA, the new Free Darko book, The Undisputed Guide To Pro Basketball History, is a must-read for you.
The souls of the Free Darko collective take many of stories we all know, and many we don’t, and weave them into intricate, seamless patterns that pull together pro basketball history like the Dude’s highly sought-out rug from the movie, The Big Lebowski, pulled together a room.
Want to know the last type of Cigar that Red Aurbach smoked during his career? Dutch Masters. Or how about what shoe Michael Jordan preferred before he was persuaded to sign with Nike? You’ll have read all the book’s side bar texts that quench your thirst for facts.
[Basketball Court - Georgia Avenue/Howard University - photo: K. Weidie]
Last season was the 31th anniversary of the three-point shot in the NBA. Well, sorta. The three-point line was implemented on a trial basis for the 1979-80 season and set into permanent rule for the 1980-81 season. So, perhaps technically this season is the 31th anniversary of the three-point shot in the NBA. Nonetheless, stats on the shot have been kept for the previous 31 seasons and are available thanks to Basketball-Reference.com.
In mid-September, ESPN.com contributor Tom Haberstroh made an attempt to determine the five worst players in the franchise history of each NBA team [ESPN Insider]. The requirements, along with the implementation of John Hollinger’s PER, were:
“… a player needed to have played at least 10 minutes per contest over the course of at least 100 career games with the franchise. Furthermore, we’ve added the “Bruce Bowen Corollary” to exempt players who started for championship teams.”
ESPN.com currently has this “Franchise Five” feature going on for all NBA teams. Basically, they have an interactive page where visitors can vote for the “best” player in franchise history at each position (PG, SG, SF, PF, C).
Here are the candidates:
Gilbert Arenas, Rod Strickland, Archie Clark, Kevin Porter and Michael Adams
Earl “The Pearl” Monroe, Jeff Malone, Phil Chenier, Kevin Loughery and Don Ohl
Manute Bol spent about all of his time as a Washington Bullet before I became a fan of the franchise upon moving to the District in 1990. I barely remember his six minutes and two games during a second stint with the team in the 1993-94 season.
Still, his lore as an NBA player, who was really much, much more as a person, lives on with me and many others. So while I unfortunately can’t recount any personal memories of Bol, who passed away at age 47 yesterday in Charlottesville, Virginia, I suggest you remember his legacy by reading the links and watching the videos below.
On a holiday weekend, where you will no doubt be eating in some sort of gluttonous manner, let’s take a quick look at just one of the rotund members of the Wizards/Bullets franchise’s past … Ledell Eackles.
I won’t be getting into too much of my own historical research and perspective on the player in this post … mostly because several great pieces on Eackles have already been written. Let’s take a look …
The Wizards have zero chance of landing the fourth overall pick in tonight’s draft lottery. But the last time the team did have the fourth was in 1995 when they used it to select Rasheed Wallace out of North Carolina.
Those were the days when dreams were big and aims were high — ‘Sheed, Juwan Howard and Chris Webber, a murder’s row of bigs. But instead of success on the court, we are left cherishing the video clip below when Webber (not playing and suited) put a “I’m a rookie, kick me!” sign on Wallace’s back during a game (also not playing and suited). Ahh, the memories. Gheorghe Muresan is also shown not playing and suited.
On Friday I tweeted, “I am now the proud owner of a pair of autographed Juwan Howard shoes from when he played in Washington.” Now I’m here to share the pictures.
The shoes were won in a silent auction held at work created to benefit efforts in Haiti. My specific contribution went to Doctors Without Borders. The lady who donated them said her husband was an equipment manager for the team long ago.
First, congrats goes to Thomas Pruitt and Wade Smith, the only two respondents to answer all nine trivia questions right. They both win a copy of the book. Also congrats to Marc Salmon, his email address was randomly selected from the entire pool of entries. Marc gets the lucky dice.
Now let’s go over the questions, answers and a bit of team history. In case you didn’t take part in the poll, I’m posting the answers at the bottom so you can take a guess at the questions if you feel so inclined.
#1 Which coach led the Washington Bullets in their ’97 1st round playoff matchup against Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls?
To dunk, Juwan Howard had to make his body as straight as possible
and daintily place his off hand to his side.
More Cardboard Bullets are below, but first, please read the story of Juwan.
Last Sunday marked the 13th anniversary of Juwan Howard’s first ever NBA playoff game. Yes, that Juwan Howard and the appearance was with those Washington Bullets, who were bounced from the 1997 playoffs in three games by the cigar smoking Michael Jordan and his Chicago Bulls
Hard to believe Howard is still playing in the current NBA Playoffs. And despite 1,116 career regular season NBA games, he’s only appeared in 28 total playoff games and is set to appear in number 29 with the Portland Trailblazers tomorrow night.