Archive for the ‘NBA History’ Category

Here’s a Tuesday afternoon bummer for you, via ESPN New York’s Ian Begley:

Benjamin “Ossie” Schectman, a Knick who is credited with scoring the 1st basket in the NBA in 1946, has died, the team announced.

As you can see from the above clip of Schectman’s first basket, his hoop wasn’t technically an NBA basket, as the league was still called the Basketball Association of America until 1949. But still, it was for the New York Knicks, who I think you’ve heard about, so it counts. And that means we’ve all lost a little bit of history today, even if Ossie Schectman isn’t a household name. Though I have to imagine, with fastbreak gliding skills like the one he used on that very first basket, maybe he could have been in another time.

But that’s not the only interesting thing about Schectman’s first basket, as the NBA’s official NBA History Twitter feed also passed on this little bit of ol’ timey lore:

Ossie Schectman (1919-2013) First @NBA game: @NYKnicks at Toronto Huskies: If you were taller than the tallest Husky (6-8), you got in free

Schechtman only played a single season for the Knicks, but he scored the first basket in NBA history AND was on hand to witness the first gimmick promotion in league history. Pretty solid career for only playing 54 total games.

RIP Ossie Schectman.

I guess it is Cool Jerseys, Bro Day here at TBJ because we are bringing you all the hottest jersey news fit to print (I’m assuming that everyone reads the internet the same way I do, by printing out every article I find before reading it). First you peeped the throwback Dream Team unis that Team USA wore during their game with Argentina and now we’ve got some news on throwbacks that are going to show up during the next NBA season.

From UniWatch:

“I saw the Spring 2013 Adidas NBA Catalog and there are some new on-court offerings,” says Chris Blackstone. “There are new jerseys for Christmas Day and for home weekend games during the second half of season, called the Winter Court jerseys. They’re monochrome like the all-black Miami uniforms from the past couple years, but in team colors.

Also, there are Hardwood Classic jerseys for Indiana (home from 1997-98 through 2004-05), Milwaukee (late ’90s), Chicago (mid-’90s alternate), Atlanta (late-’90s road), Miami (late-’90s alternate), Sacramento (mid-’90s alternate), Phoenix (1990s alternate), Philly (early-’90s road), Cleveland (mid-’90s road), Toronto (late-’90s home), Houston (late-’90s road), and Utah (late-’90s road).”

First things first, I’m not so sure I’m going to be a fan of the monochromatic look for all the Christmas Day games. The Heat ones are OK, not great, but I can’t imagine a court full of one-color jerseys is going to look great. I’ll truly reserve judgment until we see what they look like on the court, but I’m not quite looking forward to these Winter Court jerseys.

The throwbacks, on the other hand, all sound great. I’m assuming the teams will be wearing these: Pacers, Bucks, Bulls, Hawks, Heat, Kings, Suns, Sixers, Cavaliers, Raptors, Rockets, Jazz. But even if I’m not entirely accurate on my guesses, the teams are definitely going to be wearing throwbacks from the 1990′s, which is awesome. Usually teams look a little further back, towards the 70′s or 80′s, so it’s going to be fun seeing teams looking like the era when a lot of us came of age as NBA fans.

Of the 12 that have been announced thus far, I’d say I’m most excited to see the Jazz and Hawks retros. Sure, they’re both entirely ridiculous and hopelessly 90′s, but it’s been a while since we saw jerseys with giant cartoons wrapped around the midsections and it’s going to be hilarious to see a guy like Al Jefferson with some mountains around his belly.

Update: A bunch of the jerseys have been confirmed, though it seems some may not be worn on-court. Get excited.

The 2000′s NBA draft remix

Yesterday we took a look at how the NBA drafts of the 1990′s might turn out in today’s day and age. Now, we’re going to do the same with the 2000′s, keeping in mind we’re assuming you need five years to properly evaluate a draft class. Remember, we’re always going with best player available.

2000
1. New Jersey Nets – Kenyon Martin becomes Michael Redd (2.14)
2. Vancouver Grizzlies – Stromile Swift becomes Jamal Crawford (1.8)
3. Los Angeles Clippers – Darius Miles becomes Kenyon Martin
4. Chicago Bulls – Marcus Fizer becomes Mike Miller
5. Orlando Magic – Mike Miller becomes Hedo Turkoglu (1.16)

This was a bad draft, as if you couldn’t tell from the names and where they were drafted. That out of the way, we go with the second rounder, Redd, to lead this draft class. He’s been injured the past few seasons, but it’s hard to ignore the six consecutive seasons of 21+ points before that. I’m not really sure why I have Crawford second, but it’s probably his scoring and ability to pass the ball, as well as the slim pickings. Martin put up decent numbers, but was never really healthy enough to make as much of an impact as he could have had. Miller has a decent career going on, but that’s about it. Winning a title with the Miami Heat would be just dandy. Turkoglu leads the pack with 61.8 Win Shares and that’s embarrassing for a leader for a draft class.

2001
1. Washington Wizards – Kwame Brown becomes Pau Gasol
2. Los Angeles Clippers – Tyson Chandler becomes Tony Parker (1.28)
3. Atlanta Hawks – Pau Gasol becomes Joe Johnson (1.10)
4. Chicago Bulls – Eddy Curry becomes Gilbert Arenas (2.2)
5. Golden State Warriors – Jason Richardson becomes Zach Randolph (1.19)

Gasol has a rep for being soft, but the guy still bangs inside and gets his boards and blocks. He’s also a very skilled player, and among a solid group of players, he gets the top spot like he did when he won Rookie of the Year for this draft class. Parker is further proof of how well the Spurs have drafted late and is also almost unstoppable at getting to the rim. Johnson does so many things on the court well and fills up the stat sheet. Unfortunately, he’s known more for having one of the more bloated contracts in the NBA. I was on the fence with placing Arenas in the top five, but it was hard to ignore the production from Agent Zero when he was healthy. HIBACHI! Z-Bo began his career as a “me-first” type of player, but has evolved nicely to play within the team and while still getting his double-doubles.

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The 1990′s NBA draft remix

It’s said that you can’t truly judge a draft class for about five years and that seems like a reasonable statement. What’s also not outside of that logic is that there is bound to be some regret for the selections made by some of these lottery teams.

With that in mind, we’ll take a look at each NBA Draft class from 1990, the year of the first weighted lottery system, through 2007 and do our very own remix of the first five picks. Note that any player that makes a jump into the top five from their original draft position will have the round and pick within that round in parentheses. All remixes are made regardless of position, with each team selecting the best player available.

Here’s part one — the 1990′s.

1990
1. New Jersey Nets – Derrick Coleman remixed to Gary Payton
2. Seattle SuperSonics – Gary Payton remixed to Derrick Coleman
3. Denver Nuggets – Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf remixed to Toni Kukoc (2.2)
4. Orlando Magic – Dennis Scott remixed to Loy Vaught (1.13)
5. Charlotte Hornets – Kendall Gill remixed to Antonio Davis (2.18)

This year was a little tough to remix considering the players available to move around. In the end, Payton has to be considered the top dog of the draft. Coleman is still top two because of talent, however truly untapped, and production. Kukoc was a key member of the Chicago Bulls’ second group of three-peats and was a versatile player on the court. Vaught was somewhat underrated because he played for the Clippers and Davis was a solid member of those Reggie Miller era Pacers teams that did well in the playoffs.

1991
1. Charlotte Hornets – Larry Johnson (no remix)
2. New Jersey Nets – Kenny Anderson remixed to Dikembe Mutombo
3. Sacramento Kings – Billy Owens remixed to Steve Smith
4. Denver Nuggets – Dikembe Mutombo remixed to Kenny Anderson
5. Miami Heat – Steve Smith remixed to Dale Davis (1.13)

It’s possible to put Mutombo at the top because his longevity and defense are noteworthy, but on talent alone, I had to put Grandmama first. If only his back wasn’t so balky. Steve Smith had a pretty good NBA career, although it wasn’t spectacular by any means. Mr. Chibbs could have been so much more, but he wasn’t, and I was a big fan of his since his prep days when he would destroy my high school team. Queens, stand up! Antonio Davis and Dale Davis became a pretty good duo for the Pacers and Dale’s 86.9 Win Shares is second in the draft class after Mutombo’s 117.0.

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If you missed Andrew Unterberger’s look at which Eastern Conference jerseys might be retired in the future, check that out. Here are his picks for the Western Conference.

DALLAS MAVERICKS:

Already Retired: Brad Davis, Rolando Blackman

Definitely: Dirk Nowitzki

Possibly: Jason Kidd, Jason Terry, Michael Finley, Steve Nash

Maybe Someday: N/A

Analysis: Few organizations will have the number of tough decisions to make when it comes to jersey retiring in the near future than the Mavericks will. Dirk is the only clear-cut retiree — he’s the greatest player in Mavericks history, and the second he decides to take off his Dallas jersey for good, he may as well hand it directly to Mark Cuban for hoisting preparation. After that though, you have a lot of guys who had success as a Maverick, but spent important portions of their career elsewhere, including Dirk’s old Big Three buddies Michael Finley and Steve Nash, both of whom helped raise the franchise from laughing stock to contender, but went on to great success elsewhere, with Finley winning a championship in San Antonio and Nash becoming a two-time MVP in Phoenix.

Meanwhile, in Jasons Kidd and Terry, you have two guys who had their most prolific statistical seasons elsewhere — Kidd in NJ, Terry in Atlanta — but only won a championship in Dallas. Kidd has the benefit of being a two-time Mav, first helping to turn the team around in the mid-1990s and then providing one of the final pieces to the championship puzzle in the late-2000s, while Terry is the sentimental favorite for his fan-baiting antics and his consistently clutch play across eight seasons in Big D. Still, with only two numbers retired in 30-plus years of Maverick history, with such franchise leading lights as Derek Harper and Mark Aguirre being denied, none of these guys are necessarily shoo-ins.

If I had to guess, I’d say that Kidd and Terry do get immortalized for their role in the franchise’s first championship, while Nash and Finley are unfortunately (and perhaps unfairly) forgotten about. Don’t rule out the possibility of Deron Williams or Dwight Howard having their jerseys retired at the AAC before the end of this season, though. Mark Cuban is not above a couple shady recruiting tactics.

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I’m somewhat fascinated by the concept of jersey retiring, because it’s one of the only career-based honors a player can receive whose standards are almost completely arbitrary. Most Halls of Fame have certain statistical benchmarks that one you pass, you’re an almost automatic entry. The Naismith is no exception — 20,000 points, double-digit All-Star appearances, one or more regular season or Finals MVPs, you’re probably in — while if you fail to reach any of those types of numbers, you probably won’t be considered. So formulaic is the Basketball Hall that Basketball-Reference actually came up with a literal formula to calculate a player’s odds of making it, and for the most part, it seems pretty reliable as a predictor.

There’s no such formula for jersey retiring. The qualifications are completely different from team to team, and a player who sees his jersey laid to rest by one team might not have had a chance with the same numbers for a different franchise. When debating jersey retiring, you have to consider everything from individual statistics to franchise success to franchise history to even fan relations. It’s a tricky decision-making process that sees some obscure players canonized while obvious greats are denied.

Take the case of Bruce Bowen, whose jersey is to be retired by the Spurs, despite the fact that he never played in an All-Star Game or averaged double-digit points for a season. Then take the case of LeBron James, a player who in seven years in Cleveland won two MVPs and a scoring title, played in six All-Star Games, and ushered in the most successful period of basketball (five straight playoff appearances and the franchise’s first trip to the Finals) in Cavaliers history, yet may never see his No. 23 hung to the rafters at Quicken Loans arena. It’s a disparity that could never be explained by objective numbers, but nonetheless makes perfect sense within the historical contexts of both teams. Pretty interesting shit if you ask me.

Anyway, the recent news of Bowen’s number retiring (as well as the far bigger no-brainer of Shaquille O’Neal with the Lakers) had me wondering about what numbers across the NBA were likely to be retired, and I thought it would be a cool exercise to go team-by-team and break down the definites, the probables, and the maybe somedays among those players active and retired witch a chance of being so immortalized. Here’s what I’ve come up with, in alphabetical order by conference. We’ll start with the East and the West will come later today. Let me know if and how much you disagree.

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I think we can all agree that “Toronto Raptors” is kind of a silly name for a professional sporting franchise. It’s not just that the name was clearly influenced by the popularity of “Jurassic Park,” that the raptor’s natural habitat seems to be in the Mongolia and China regions of the globe, or that the mascot is based on a number of anatomical inaccuracies … wait, it’s all of those things. Seth Meyers and Amy Poehler are like, “Really?”

But it’s not just us American expats who have moved to a strange land who think the name is dopey, it’s also NBA players. And they’ve been thinking it since the very first season the team took the court. Here’s an account from Tynan Grierson, who was working for the Raptors on the court during an early game against the Knicks that was meant to honor the very first NBA game ever played. It’s got a lot of terrible language in it because the quotes are coming from Charles Oakley and Anthony Mason, so please be warned.

Flash forward to the first season of play for the Toronto Raptors Basketball Club (wince) and I’m now working for the team. I’m sandwiched between behemoths Patrick Ewing and Charles Oakley, leaning heavily on my shirt, tie and hands-free headset to convey an authority I obviously lack. I crane my head skyward to cue Ewing into place and lose track of the 98 year-old Jewish man (not much more than 5 foot 7 from hunch-to-toe) struggling to shuffle alongside stride-for-stride.

All part of a pre-game ceremony to commemorate the first ever NBA game, played in Toronto 50 years prior. Surviving members of the 1946 New York Knickerbockers and Toronto Huskies were paired with their current counterparts; much the way Premier League soccer marches players onto the pitch hand-in-hand with children to symbolize playing a kid’s game, albeit on a grand stage. I gesture to Charles Oakley that he’s free to move to center court and he restrains himself from driving me into the floor like a railroad spike, tightening his giant fist and dragging his own frail franchise forefather in-tow.

All the while, Oakley can’t stop himself barking profanities at the Raptor players across the floor; “Those jerseys come with cum stains on ‘em? Cause they’re the gayest f—in’ things I’ve ever seen.” This in contrast to Anthony Mason’s muttering; “Dinosaurs, brotha? If I was you, I’d f—in’ kill myself.”

Of course, Oakley would go on to wear the Raptors purple and red while Mason would sport teal pinstriped jerseys during his time with the Hornets. What goes around comes around.

That being said, I’m not going to be the one to tell these guys they both looked silly later on in their careers. You can if you want, but I value my life.