A hoop history of June 25th in two parts.
On this date in 1997, the San Antonio Spurs selected Tim Duncan first overall in the ’97 NBA Draft. Fortunately for basketball fans everywhere, the Spurs’ executive and soon-to-be head coach, Gregg Popovich, had the foresight to take Duncan over Keith Van Horn. “The Big Fundamental” joined David Robinson to form the last – and best – true “Twin Towers” combo in the Spurs’ frontcourt.
Exactly two years later, on June 25th 1999, the Spurs captured their first-ever championship by beating the New York Knicks 78-77 in Game 5. It was a Finals series in which no team ever scored 100 points in any game. The slow, plodding half-court offense was the soup, salad, and main course du jour in 1999. “Old Man Riverwalk” had a great game to help seal the Knicks’ fate – 31 points and 9 boards. Meanwhile, “The Admiral” only scored 15 points but put in some solid work with 12 rebounds, 4 of them offensive.
Did somebody say Dunkin’? Nah, dude…Duncan.
Duncan’s performance in that Finals (27.4 pts/gm, 14.0 rebs/gm, 2.4 assists/gm, and 2.2 blocks/gm) netted him the first of three NBA Finals MVP Awards. Essentially, the doors to the Naismith Hall of Fame opened pretty quickly for “The Stone Buddha.”
Now that I’ve clouded your head with info on Duncan, let’s see if you can pull a trivia answer out of thin air.
Ring the trivia bell!
The player in question was a first-round pick by the Golden State Warriors in 1992 out of the University of Alabama. Standing 6’5”, this slashing guard-forward was kinda spindly at 190 pounds. He made the All-Rookie Team that season and All-NBA and All-Defensive teams in his second season.
In that Game 5 against Duncan and Robinson, he poured in 35 points and grabbed 10 boards, leaving it all on the floor in defeat. He was the top scorer in the game and only Knick in double-figure points in the second half. In that second half, he went 10-for-16 and scored 25, but couldn’t drag Larry Johnson out of his grave. He was the leading scorer for the Finals with 407 points. It was the guard from Alabama’s last appearance in an NBA Finals game.
Overall, this mystery man had a better career than I recalled.
His career averages of 18.3 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 4.0 assists make him one of only 36 players in the Shot Clock Era (1954-55 to the present) to post those numbers. He stayed in The Association for 13 seasons, playing for the Warriors, Knicks, and Minnesota Timberwolves.
Can you name the guy who still sends P.J. Carlesimo a Christmas card every holiday season?
When you give up, the answer to the trivia questions is HERE.