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Pure.

 

Stephen Douglas Kerr is the most accurate three point shooter in NBA history.  In that way he is not mediocre.  However, the fact that he brought very little else to the table is what makes him mediocre.

Steve Kerr was born in  Beirut, Lebanon of all places.  Are you with me in thinking that Steve doesn’t look middle eastern at all?  Here’s why:  His father, Malcolm, was an academic sort who specialized in the Middle East.    Steve split his high school time between sunny California and the even sunnier Cairo, Egypt.  Upon graduating from high school, Steve accepted a basketball scholarship to the University of Arizona.  In 1984, when Steve was just an 18 year old freshman, his father was assassinated in in Beirut by supposed nationalists in Lebanon.  Yikes.

Steve continued his play at Arizona and started at the point there for three plus seasons even though he was commonly referred to as being “two steps too slow”.  During Steve’s senior season he teamed with Sean Elliott (mediocre) and Kenny Lofton (Big Dog) to lead the Wildcats to the Final Four.  In that senior season, Kerr hit 57% of his three point attempts, an NCAA record to this day.

Kerr was drafted by Phoenix and traded to the Cavs for a second round pick.  Kerr would spend his first three seasons with the Cavs and forming a white out in the backcourt with the immortal Craig Ehlo.  Steve was traded in the middle of the 1992 season to the Magic before signing a free agent deal with the Chicago Bulls prior to the 1993 season.  It was in that 1993-94 season (without Michael Jordan) that Kerr set his career high for scoring when he dropped in a respectable 8.6 points per game.  During his first four seasons with the Bulls, Kerr was phenomenally consistent.  In those four years he scoring average ranged from 8.1-8.6 a game while playing between 22-24 minutes a game.  He had finally found his role.

Kerr won four Champions in a row, three with the Bulls and one with the Spurs.  He was a member of the legendary 72-10 Bulls team in 1995-96.  Kerr wrapped up his career with 5 rings (3 with chicago, 2 with San Antonio) and was the winner of the 3pt shoot out at the 1997 All Star Game.  Many three point shooters are classified as “gunners”, not Steve Kerr.  Kerr knew where to be and when to be there.  He was a calculated marksman.

Kerr would go on to be the General Manager of the Phoenix Suns, where he did a pretty mediocre job before returning to the sidelines to call NBA games where he is one of the best in the business.  I am pretty confident that Steve Kerr, right now at the age of 46 could step onto the court of an NBA game and knock down a big-time three pointer if he had to.

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Charles Smith

Two legends of Connecticut basketball: Manute Bol and Charles Smith

I remember when Charles Smith broke into the NBA.  His rookie season (1988-89) is probably when I first starting really following the NBA.  Smith had the poor luck of starting his career in Los Angeles with the Clippers.  Here in 2010 the Clippers are a total joke.  Things were no different in the late 1980s.  The franchise had already made its mark as an annual loser.

Smith was the third overall pick in the 1988 NBA Draft out of the University of Pittsburgh.  He was drafted behind Danny Manning and Rik Smits (two guys who deserve posts on this site).  Charles was actually drafted by the 76ers  but was swapped on draft night for Hersey Hawkins.  The Clippers thought they had their frontcourt of the future in Manning and Smith.

Charles averaged 16 points and 6 boards a game as a rookie and was named to the All-Rookie first team.  It would be his only career award in the NBA.  Smith would go on to put up at least 20 points a game in the next two seasons.  However, instead of being seen as a young, rising star, Smith was seen simply as a good player on a bad team.

After one more season with the Clips, the organization did him a huge favor:  They traded him to the Knicks in a deal for Mark Jackson.  Smith stepped in at forward for the Knicks in the mid-1990s and played on some very good teams.  Smith saw his playing time and scoring decrease, but at least he played on some playoff teams.

In the 1993 playoffs, the Knicks were up against Jordan’s Bulls.  New York took a 2-0 lead in the series only to see the Bulls battle back to tie the series at two wins apiece.  The pivotal game five took place at Madison Square Garden.  With 25 seconds remaining the Knicks trailed by one point and Charles Smith had the defining moment of his career:

Truly a tough break.  Smith saw his playing time decrease even further and was traded to the Spurs for a pile of crap in February of 1996.  Smith then played a couple of years in San Antonio before retiring at the age of 31.  He retired with a career scoring average of 14.4 points per game.  Nice.

Since retiring, Smith has been active on the business side of the NBA and created a youth center for teens in his hometown of Bridgeport, CT.

Read as Charles remembers Manute Bol.

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Best of friends.

A week or so ago, I wrote about the RBs of the Dan Marino era and was just a total blast.  It was a 17 year journey through a sea of mediocre running backs.  While talking to Alex the other night, we came up with the idea for this post.  The stiff’s that patrolled the paint during Michael Jordan’s reign in the Windy City.  The results are just as depressing and even funnier than the jerks Marino had to play with.  Enjoy.

  • Dave Corzine (1984-1989):  The mustachioed Corzine was the Bulls starting center for Jordan’s rookie season in 1984-1985.  He averaged 8 points and 5 boards a game in about 25 minutes a game.  He hung on as a reserve for the next few seasons while getting pretty significant minutes.  His finest seasons came earlier in his career when he average double-digit points with the Nets.
  • Jawann Oldham (1984-1986):  Oldham got most of his playing time for the Bulls in the 1985-86 season, when Jordan played in only 18 games due to an injury.  The seven-footer averaged 7 points, 6 boards and nearly 3 blocks a game in fairly limited action.  Those numbers (especially the blocks) are impressive given his lack of playing time.  Oldham now has his own basketball camp and website.  On the site, he refers to himself as an “NBA Superstar.”
  • Brad Sellers (1986-1989):  Sellers was a lottery pick in 1986.  He is considered a bust.  However, he was one of the few players from that draft not to completely ruin their lives with cocaine, so at least he has that going for him.  Sellers was seven-feet tall and could shoot the rock, but he was a total wimp and not a real center.  He never averaged double digits for the Bulls and was shipped out-of-town for a draft pick.  That draft pick would become BJ Armstrong, one of the most mediocre All-Star’s of all-time.

Bill Cartwright always looked pissed. Probably because he was a dick.

  • Bill Cartwright (1988-1994):  Bill Cartwright was a dick.  He frequently picked up technical fouls for being a dick.  He was a beast in college at San Francisco, where he followed in the footsteps of Bill Russell.  He was an NBA lottery pick who put together a pretty decent career and was probably the best Jordan-era center.  He started most of the time Chicago but rarely got over 30 minutes a game.  He averaged double digits during his first two seasons before deferring even more to Jordan.
  • Jack Haley (1988-1990, 1995-1996): Jack Haley sucked.  Perfectly nice dude from what I can tell, but a lousy basketball player.  Haley averaged just a tick over two points a game while with the Bulls and played in only one game during the 1995-96 season.  Haley is best known for being in Aerosmith’s “Love in an Elevator” music video and for being Dennis Rodman’s best friend.
  • Will Perdue (1988-1995, 1999-2000): Believe it or not, Will Perdue was a Lottery pick way back when.  The Bulls took the seven-footer 11th overall back in 1988.  He never averaged more than 8 points a game.  Even though he is a career 57% free throw shooter and was never a regular starter, Perdue is the proud owner of four NBA Championship rings (3 with the Bulls, one with the Spurs).  He is arguably the whitest player to ever appear in the NBA (post 1965).
  • Stacey King (1989-1994):  King is the highest lottery-pick  bust of the Jordan era centers.  King was drafted 6th overall in the 1989 draft out of Oklahoma where she absolutely dominated.  In her four seasons with the Bulls she averaged about 7 points and 3 rebounds a game before the Bulls traded her for the immortal Luc Longley (more on him in a second).  King never get it together in the NBA but has a pretty sweet TV gig for Bull television.  Stacey is noted as being the only female player in NBA history.

I would have killed to be at this party.

  • Bill Wennington (1993-1999):  Wennington’s main claim to fame is being one of the finer, bearded-Canadian basketball players of the 1990s.  Wennington looked like a towering Red Wood out on the court, checking in at seven feet tall and 250 pounds.  Sadly, he played much smaller, getting about 5 points and 2 rebounds a game during his time with the Bulls.  Wennington was a decent free throw shooter for a center, making over 80% of his attempts.    He is a proud member of the Canadian Basketball Hall of Fame.

Luc Longley: Professional Big Dog.

  • Luc Longley (1994-1998):  Luc Longley has been described as a deft passer.  He has also been described as slow, offensively handicapped, and Australian.  It’s all true.  Longley came over in that BIG Stacey King trade and was the Bulls starting center for three seasons.  Longley averaged right around 10/5 while with the Bulls.  He was traded to the Suns after winning three rings with the Bulls.  He currently resides in his homeland and his married to a celebrity chef.  What a dude.

Corie Blount has a problem.

  • Corie Blount (1993-1995):  Blount was a first round pick of the Bulls in 1993 after a mediocre run at Cincinnati.  He averaged only 3 points and 3 rebounds a game while in Chicago with Jordan (he made 2 more appearances with the Bulls later in his career).  There are some other guys that logged more minutes than Blount, but he has a story.  Since retiring, Blount has been arrested multiple times for drug offenses.  He was busted with over 11 pounds of marijuana.  He later pled guilty and spent a year in prison for having close to 30 pounds on him at his house.  You can watch him get sentenced here if you’re into that sort of thing.

No one knows what happened to Bison Dele.

  • Bison Dele (1996-1997):  Dele (formerly Brian Williams) played in only 7 regular season games in 1996-97, but made significant contributions in the postseason.  Williams struggled through some personal issues while in college and early in NBA career.  After his nice run with the Bulls, in which he earned a ring, Dele got a big free agent deal from the Detroit Pistons.  After a couple of nice seasons with the Pistons, Dele tired of the organization and of basketball and called it quits abruptly at the age of 30.  He walked about from over $30 million.  Weird dude.  The story of what happened next is sad and even weirder.  Reportedly, Dele went sailing on his boat (the Hakuna Matata) with his girlfriend, a skipper and his brother.  Dele was last seen on July 8th 2002.  Almost two weeks later, the boat docked with only Dele’s brother on board.  The conclusion made was that Dele’s brother killed everyone on board in order to get the boat, some gold, and some cash.  His brother insisted he was innocent, but he feared prison.  In September he overdosed on insulin and died.  He was the only major witness in the incident, so it seems unlikely that we will ever find out what happened to Bison Dele.

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Clarence Weatherspoon

Baby Barkley

Clarence Weatherpsoon came into the league with about as much buzz as a ninth overall pick can.  He came into the league with the nickname “Baby Barkley”.  Like Hall of Famer, Charles Barkley, Weatherspoon was a short and stout power forward.  Like Barkley he came from the south.  Clarence and Charles were also both selected in the NBA Draft by the Philadelphia 76ers.

Weatherspoon was a 20/10 guy in college at the University of Southern Mississippi.  He joined players like Alonzo Mourning and Derrick Coleman as players with at least 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds in DI basketball.  After his four-year run at Southern Miss, Baby Barkley was a a lottery pick of the 76ers and immediately stepped into the starting lineup for the Sixers.

During his rookie year in Philly, Weatherspoon averaged 15 points and 7 boards a game, starting every single game for the 26-56 Sixers.  Yuck.  This good production was only good enough to net Weatherspoon a spot on the All-Rookie 2nd team.  It would be his only award during his NBA tenure.  Just for kicks, here is who made the 1st team that season:

  • Shaq
  • Alonzo
  • Gugliotta
  • Laettner
  • LaPhonso Ellis

A pretty decent All-Rookie team, so it’s hard for hardcore ‘Spoon fans to be too pissed off.

While he posted some very good numbers in his first season, Clarence never really improved all that much.  He averaged 18 a game for some pretty bad Sixers teams in the mid-1990s before his journey around the NBA really took off.  His best production came in Philly, but he moved around and played minor roles on some really bad teams and a couple of playoff teams.  Here’s the rest of his journey:

  • 31 games in Golden State after a trade from Philly.  He gets 10 point a game.
  • 2 seasons in Miami where he played primarily off the bench.
  • 1 year in Cleveland.  He averaged 11 points a game as a starter.
  • 2 years in New York with the Knicks.
  • 2 years with the Rockets.

That’s quite a bit of movement.  I remember this era of the NBA pretty well, and it seems like Weatherspoon was involved in about 80% of the trades in the NBA over this seven-year period.  Here’s a list of some of the guys included in trades with Weatherspoon.  It’s quite a list:

  • Jimmy Jackson:  Lottery bust.  Decent role player.
  • Joe Smith:  Lottery bust.  Decent role player.
  • Chris Gatling:  The only man traded more than Weatherspoon.
  • Shawn Kemp:  Former star, father of at least 12 children.
  • Brian Grant:  He of the dreadlocks.  One of my favorites.  Currently suffering with Parkinson’s Disease.
  • John Amaechi:  I think he was the first openly gay basketball player.  He was not very good at basketball.

Weatherspoon retired after the 2004-05 season, having made about $40 million.  Not bad for a guy with career totals of 11 points  per game and 7 rebounds per game.

I have no idea what Clarence is up to these days, so instead, watch this video of him from the 1993 Slam Dunk contest.  He finished second.

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SVG and JVG: two pillars of medocrity


The Van Gundy brothers of the basketball world are two men basketball fans owe a huge debt of gratitude. Between Stan’s incredulousness on the sideline when a call goes the other way, or Jeff’s hysterical commentary, these two guys bring a lot to the subtleties of what makes the NBA worth watching. I once heard somebody say that JVG is pound for pound the best commentator in sports. One could also make the argument that his brother SVG is pound for pound the most mediocre coach in the NBA.

I first became a JVG fan when he coached the Knicks in the 1990’s. He helped lead the Knicks to the 1994 finals as an assistant to Pat Riley and once more in 1999 as head coach. Stan Van Gundy looks like adult film star, Ron Jeremy. Vote below for your favorite Van Gundy.

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Chuck Nevitt posts up against Manute Bol.

10. Chuck Nevitt (1.6ppg, 0.7 BPG, 1.5RPG, 155 games):  Nevitt stood at 7’5” and weighed just a tick over 200 pounds.  He was basically a freak show.  He was never a quality player, but got plenty of pub for being so tall and sporting a classic 1980s mustache.

McIlvaine gets murdered by Shaq.

9. Jim McIlvaine (2.7ppg, 3.1 RPG, 1.7 BPG):  McIlvaine signed up with a 64-win Sonics team that nearly beat Jordan and the Bulls.  His MASSIVE contract led to the Sonics becoming financially strapped and forced the club to trade Shawn Kemp.  McIlvaine made over $30M in his career.

Laimbeer man handles a helpless Will Perdue.

8. Bill Laimbeer (12.9 PPG, 9.7 RPB, 0.9 BPG):  Laimbeer was an absolute beast on the boards, he was once a league leader.  He developed a reputation as a badass enforcer and won a pair of titles with the Detroit Pistons.

The Dunking Dutchman

7. Rik Smits (14.8 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 1.3 BPG):  I’ve highlighted the Dunking Dutchman here before.  He was the 7’4” pillar at the center of some very good Pacers teams in the 1990s.

What a glorious perm.

6. Jack Sikma (15.6 PPG, 9.8 RPG, 0.9 BPG):  Sikma is the best player on this list.  He could should the jumper for a 7 footer and shot nearly 90% from the line.  However, his main contribution to the league was the greatest white-man perm in the history of the world.

Pretty sure his feet are still touching the floor.

5. Greg Ostertag (4.6 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 1.7 BPG):  Ostertag was 7’3” of flabby goodness.  He had some quick moves around the rim for a fat man and hung around the league as a decent rebounder and a bit of a hot head.

Is his form correct?

4. Mark Eaton (6.0 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 3.5 BPG): Eaton’s greatness was one of the first issues covered on this site a few months back.  At his peak he was one of the top shot blockers of all-time.  At his worst he was an offensively challenged woolly mammoth of a man.

Taking a quick breather.

3. Raef LaFrentz (10.1 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 1.6 BPG):  LaFrentz was a lottery pick by the Denver Nuggets in the 1998.  He was a quicker player when he was young, but a knee injury his rookie year robbed him of his quickness.  He then became an overpaid version of Danny Ferry.  When it was all said and done he made over $80M playing in the NBA.

...and the crowd goes wild!!!

2. Chris Dudley (3.9 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 1.2 BPG):  Dudley was a teammate guy.  He was never a great player but was always lauded as an exemplary teammate.  Dudley was a freak by NBA standards as a Yale guy.  He is one of the worst free-throw shooters in league history and is currently running for Governor of Oregon.

Living the dream.

1. Shawn Bradley (8.1 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 2.5 BPG):  One of the biggest busts in league history.  Everything about this guy is either funny, weird, or sad.  He was born in Germany, went to college in Utah, went on a Mormon mission trip before entering the draft, was pale, and was 7’6”.  He was also dunked on more than any player in the history of the universe.

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Rik Smits

Rik Smits over Greg Ostertag. Nearly 15 feet of pasty, white skin.

Some readers of this site have been pushing for this post.  The site’s co-creator, Alex, said that I had to do it given my Dutch heritage and I didn’t disagree.  I’ve been saying for years that Rik Smits was the exact same player as Yao Ming, he just played during a different era and didn’t enter with quite as much hype.  Still, given his relatively modest career numbers (especially since he was a lottery pick), it’s pretty easy to say that Rik Smits is just another one of the great, white, mediocre centers in NBA history.

Smits was born in Eindhoven, Netherlands in 1966.  He moved to the United States in 1984 and enrolled at Marist University to play basketball.  Smits made a name for himself in the States while at Marist.  He averaged nearly 25 points and 9 boards a game as a senior at Marist and was then drafted by the Indiana Pacers with the second pick of the 1988 draft (Danny Manning went first).

The Dunking Dutchman started his career as a backup in Indiana, but quickly moved into the starting lineup due to some injuries.  For his career, Smits started nearly 90% of the games he played in, including 71 in his rookie season.  That rookie season, Smits took home his only career award as a member of the All-Rookie first team (he did make an All Star team in 1998).  Nice.

In his second season, the clumsy Smits led the NBA in personal fouls as he had trouble keeping his massive 7’4” frame under control.  Smits went on to be the starting center for some really great Pacers teams in the 1990s before retiring with a 14.8 points per game average and 6.1 rebounds.  Those are some mediocre numbers.

However, if one were to dig deeper, Smits was a very productive player who produced at an impressive rate.  Smits minutes were usually limited by his size and fouls.  For his career he only averaged 26 minutes per game.  So, say for example he played actual starter minutes (let’s say 36 minutes a game), it wouldn’t be insane to see Smits putting up 20 points and 10 boards a game.  In other words, Rik Smits is the ORIGINAL Yao Ming.

Both Ming and Smits possessed a series of low post moves to go with terrific range on their jump shots.  Both players also excelled at the free throw line.  For his career, Smits shot over 50% from the field and over 77% from the charity stripe.  An unheard of combination in today’s modern center.

Smits retired after the 1999-2000 season.  Since then he has spent his time collecting and racing old school motorbikes.  I’m not kidding.  Picture a giant like that on a motorbike.  Or better yet, click here.

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