For those who missed my Tweets on the subject, I wrote a guest post at the San Antonio Spurs blog 48 Minutes Of Hell, talking about the Spurs finances and Brian Cook and stuff like that. Please go and read it. Also, if you own a good team-specific blog and want me to do the same for your team, be really quite sickeningly nice towards me and you might have a chance. Might.
The following is a round-up of the life, times and afterlives of the entire 1996 NBA Draft. Note: in the event that a player is still in the NBA, I’ll assume that you know that and will talk about something else.
1st pick: Allen Iverson (Philadelphia) – Everyone has made the same comment about Iverson potentially joining the Memphis Grizzlies. Everyone in the land has made some comment to the effect of “there’s only one ball,” “who’s going to pass,” “how could you pair him up with Zach Randolph and Rudy Gay,” “how is it going to work long term” etc. And the answer to that is simple; it’s not going to work long term. But it’s not supposed to, either. Randolph has only two years left on his contract, and Iverson will be signing a one-year deal. They’re only supposed to be short-term improvements, for a team trying to improve whilst unable/unwilling to take on long term commitments. It would be bloody lovely if they could have gotten Paul Millsap and Nate Robinson instead, but that was never realistic. When you’re at the bottom with no money to spend, you have to live off the draft, minimum salary steals and retreads. That’s how it has to be, and that’s what Iverson represents. As retreads go, though, may I point out that Iverson was averaging 28 points and 8 assists per game just 18 short months ago. Yes, it’s worth the risk. Jason Hart might be more willing to pass the ball, but he also has about an 85th of the talent.
– 2nd pick: Marcus Camby (Toronto) – If pushed, how often would you guess Marcus Camby has made the All-Star team? I’d say two, maybe one. But the answer’s actually none. Does this mean that he’s a bust as a #2 pick, despite having a Defensive Player of the Year award to his name? Considering the strength of the draft behind him, I say yes. Tough but fair.
– 3rd pick: Shareef Abdur-Rahim (Vancouver) – Abdur-Rahim is retired and now working as an assistant coach for the Kings. Here’s something to consider, though: when the New Jersey Nets tried to make a sign -and-trade deal for Abdur-Rahim in August 2005, Shareef failed his physical because of his knee, despite having never missed a game in his NBA career because of knee trouble. The Nets were roundly mocked for this. But I guess they were right, because Shareef had only one year left in him. Shareef signed with Sacramento to a five-year deal after the Nets trade fell through, but the Kings only got one decent year, one mediocre year, and one non-existent year out of Shareef, and now he’s had to retire with two seasons left on his contract. The trained professionals saw coming what we the public couldn’t, and we held that against them. Whoops. The world owes you an apology, medical examiners.
Also note: Steven Hunter’s trade to New Orleans in February 2006 was cancelled due to concerns about his knee, which wasn’t keeping him out of action at the time, but which the Hornet doctors didn’t like the prognosis of. They vetoed the trade, much to the annoyance of the 76ers, and traded for Aaron Williams instead. Hunter is now a Grizzly, and probably won’t play this year due to his knee injury. He didn’t play at all last year, nearly retired because of the injury, and managed only 120 minutes on it in 2007/2008. More vindication that you won’t ever hear enough about. Tyson Chandler had better be contemplating Buddhism right now.
– 4th pick: Stephon Marbury (Milwaukee) – I haven’t written about the Marbury uStream yet, because I’ve not wanted to. It’s depressing. But here goes; I watched about 15 seconds of it, total. I had avoided it for a long time, because I hate seeing people fall apart, but I was encouraged to watch it by someone who swears that Khalid El-Amin was bodypopping to the camera at that very moment. There was no way I was missing an opportunity to see Khalid El-Amin bobypop, so I fired up the stream to check it out. What I saw instead was Stephon Marbury crying for absolutely no reason whatsoever. So I turned it off again. Bad times. Seriously. I have no idea if Marbury is legitimately unwell, on some kind of brain-altering chemical, or just naturally one of the biggest attention seekers you’ll ever see. It’s not our place to speculate on that. But whichever it is, it’s unhealthy behaviour. And so we’re wrong if we encourage it.
– 5th pick: Ray Allen (Minnesota) – Allen is 261 three-point makes behind Reggie Miller for the all-time lead. He’s shooting .398 from downtown for his career, whereas Miller shot .395. It’s up to you as to which of them is the best three-point shooter of all time, but if/when Allen overtakes Miller, and if he cracks the 40% mark for his career, then it’ll be hard to argue against him. Especially since he’s also reclaimed the single season record from Quentin Richardson (a man who doesn’t enter into the ‘best three-point shooter of all time’ discussion). Also note: Jason Williams is 37th on that list, only seven more makes away from 35th. Strange list.
– 6th pick: Antoine Walker (Boston) – Antoine Walker was arrested earlier this year for passing dud cheques in a Vegas casino. You probably already know that. You also probably know about Antoine’s career-long reputation of free spending, of the way he’d live paycheck to paycheck, spending the money as fast as he got it, and having a hell of a fun time for as long as he had a career. If you did, it’s probably no surprise that the money went when the career did.
But you may not have known this; in January this year, Walker was sued by former agent Mark Bartelstein for unpaid agents fees. Bartelstein had negotiated Walker’s excessive six-year, $52 million contract with the Heat back in October 2004, and was to take his usual 4% from all of Walker’s pay checks, but with an awkward caveat that stated “at Player’s discretion. Player may reduce the fee to no less than 3%.” Walker paid Bartelstein 4% through the 2007/08 season, but started to fall behind with payments. Walker then fired Bartelstein in July 2008 and stopped paying him altogether. Bartelstein invoiced Walker for all the outstanding money and for his share of the money that Walker would earn in the 2008/09 season, and when Walker refused to pay him the 4% instead of 3%, Bartelstein filed a grievance. He won, and the judge ruled that Walker owed Bartelstein $458,366.45 in previously unpaid fees, as well as 4% of the rest of Walker’s paychecks for the 2008/09 season ($213,006.36), for a total of $671,372.81. Fun fact that almost makes you want to stop high stakes gambling.
– 7th pick: Lorenzen Wright (L.A. Clippers) – Lorenzen Wright was statistically the worst player in the NBA in the 2007/08 season, but this didn’t stop the Cavaliers bringing him in for the 2008/09 season. There, he was equally ineffective, and provided little on-court help. He’s had a good career, but the skills and mobility have gone now. He is currently unsigned and probably always will be.
– 8th pick: Kerry Kittles (New Jersey) – Kerry Kittles’ career went a long time ago, cut short by injuries, eventually retiring after the 2005 season. He has since gone back to Villanova and is pursuing an MBA at their school of business. He also works here, whatever this is, and he was a part-time scout for the Nets at one point. But I’m not sure if he still does that.
– 9th pick: Samaki Walker (Dallas) – Samaki Walker’s last NBA stint was a training camp spot with the Bucks in 2007. Since then, he’s taken his high-flying show on the road, specifically eastwards. In the last two years he has played in Syria, the Lebanon and China, where he did the usual Chinese thing and put up huge numbers (26.5 ppg, 17.1 rpg). Most recently, Walker was drafted in the KBL draft, which pretty much guarantees that he’ll be in South Korea next year, unless they’ve changed their rules.
– 10th pick: Erick Dampier (Indiana) – This will be Erick Dampier’s final year as a Maverick. He is under contract for next season a hefty $13,078,000, but it’s also fully unguaranteed. And if you don’t think the Mavericks are going to ring everyone in the land in a bid to change that, then you’re very much mistaken.
– 11th pick: Todd Fuller (Golden State) – You know how the Warriors copped so much flak for picking Fuller over Kobe? Well, why did the Mavericks get let off comparatively easily for the Walker pick? Samaki may have a ring, but it’s the guy he was backing up that was responsible for that, so I don’t think we can credit him too much for that. Anyway, to Fuller.
Fuller’s NBA career totalled 225 games and five teams, with career averages of 3.7 points and 3.0 rebounds. (Aaron Gray’s NBA career is going to be much the same, but at least he was picked ahead of Renaldas Seibutis instead of Kobe. That’s easier to take.) It ended in 2001 training camp with the Magic, at which point Fuller went overseas. He spent the next three years in Spain (with a couple of months in Poland thrown in there somewhere), before signing in Greece for the 2004/05 season. However, Fuller was released by his Greek team after only three games and returned to Spain, where he stayed for two more years. His last stint came in Australia; Fuller signed with the Melbourne South Dragons in Australia’s NBL for the 2006/07 season, a team coached by Mark Price. However, the South Dragons got out to an 0-5 start before Price was fired, and Fuller was sent away with him. It wasn’t Todd’s fault; he’d averaged 16.8 points and 8.2 rebounds in his five games. But I guess they just wanted a full body cleanse. (Star player Shane Heal then took over as player/coach, and Price claims that Heal undermined his position, pretending to be hurt in the season’s opening games to get Price fired so that he could then get the head coaching job. Scandal!)
Fuller is now a busy little bee, with a variety of things going on. His number was retired by North Carolina State in 2007, and he sponsors the “Todd Fuller Maths Competition” at a North Carolina high school. He tours the globe participating in voluntary basketball camps, and he serves on the Airport Advisory Committee for Charlotte-Douglas International Airport. (Fuller is a FAA certified pilot in the Charlotte area, so that figures.) He also teaches applied mathematics at Charlotte Christian School. Here’s his LinkedIn.
– 12th pick: Vitaly Potapenko (Cleveland) – Potapenko’s NBA career ended in the 2006/07 season, when he started the season with the Sonics and was traded to the Kings partway through the year. For both teams, though, he was poor. His lone basketball stint after that came the following December, when he played a few games for Estudiantes Madrid in the ACB, averaging 5.3 points and 2.7 rebounds. He hasn’t been heard from since. (Note: it’s far harder to find out stuff about the European players, for reasons that I hope are obvious.)
– 14th pick: Predrag Stojakovic (Sacramento) – Peja is still going, although he’s not far away from being Postdrag. He owes it all to the pretty tremendous contract that Jeff Bower gave him, one which calls for two more years and $27.6 million for a player with a PER of 12.5 last year. Nice. Their other shocking contract of that offseason – Bobby Jackson – has finally expired, but not before the Hornets traded it for a longer one (Mike James, later Antonio Daniels) just to get a two-month Bonzi Wells cameo. They made a “go for it” trade, missed, and are still suffering from the repercussions, having to dump players to avoid the tax. Nasty.
– 15th pick: Steve Nash (Phoenix) – Nash’s two-year extension is for exactly $22 million, with $6 million in deferred compensation. He will count against the cap as $10,310,938 in 2010/11 and $11,689,062 in 2011/12, but will receive $3 million less than that in actual pay over those two years while Robert Sarver waits for the housing market to resuscitate. Fun fact.
– 16th pick: Tony Delk (Charlotte Hornets) – The last time we checked in on Delk, he was a technical advisor in Puerto Rico. Well, he’s not any more. Nowadays, along with Scott Padgett, he is working with John Calipari at Kentucky as a “coach in training.”
– 17th pick: Jermaine O’Neal (Portland) – Bryan Colangelo inherited a 27-win Toronto Raptors team with Chris Bosh, Jose Calderon, max cap room and the #1 overall pick. He didn’t earn those things; he already had them when he got there. Three years later, the Raptors had Chris Bosh, Jose Calderon, their balls grazed against the tax threshold…..and all of 33 wins. That is not much more. They won the Atlantic division title the year before, but there’s a reason they went so far backwards, and that reason was their 2008 offseason. Little happened to improve the already-weak wing positions (Hassan Adams doesn’t count); instead, the Raptors took every trade chip he had (T.J. Ford, their first-rounder, the combined $11 million expiring of Rasho Nesterovic and Macy O’Baston) and used it to acquire O’Neal, a man who had the second-biggest contract in the NBA, who had declined for three straight years and who had played more than 51 games only once in the previous four seasons. Unsurprisingly, O’Neal got injured and agitated, the Raptors imploded, and Colangelo had to use two more assets (Jamario Moon and another first-round pick) and take one one more liability (Marcus Banks) just to get rid of him. That’s how bad the initial deal was. The Raptors either didn’t do his homework (which isn’t likely, considering how easy it is to do; it took all of about 30 seconds to Google all that information, and it’s not hard to see the size of that knee brace), or didn’t value it enough (more likely).
Colangelo has had a good offseason this year. Not a great one (we’ll come to that later), but a good one. They’re a 45 to 48 win team again. Yet let’s not forget quite how unsuccessful the O’Neal deal was.
– 18th pick: John Wallace (New York) – Wallace was kind of underwhelming in the NBA after averaging 22/9 in his senior season at Syracuse, but there’s no denying that he was fun. He played seven seasons in the NBA, the last of which was with the 2003/04 Miami Heat, and retired with NBA career averages of 7.6 points and 2.8 rebounds, which isn’t bad. He played one more season, in 2004/05 with Snaidero Udine in Italy’s Serie A, before retiring. There’s scant little information about what he’s done since then; all I know is that he lives in Rochester and served as an assistant coach at the 2008 AAU 15-and-under National Championships. Bonus info: His godson is Javon McCrea, a high school star who has given a verbal commitment to Georgetown.
– 19th pick: Walter McCarty (New York) – McCarty’s last stint in the NBA came with the 2005-06 Clippers, where he didn’t do much. Since then, he has worked his way up through the coaching ranks, and he’s now an assistant coach to Rick Pitino at Louisville.
– 20th pick: Zydrunas Ilgauskas (Cleveland) – Let’s reminisce; remember when Zydrunas Ilgauskas was a terrible health risk, and it looked as though his career was over? That’s how bad his foot injury was; he played only five games in the 1998/99 season, missed all of the 1999/2000 season, played only 24 games in 2000/01, and managed only two-thirds of the 2001/02 season while backing up Chris Mihm. That’s a total of 91 games played, out of a possible 296. Not good. But since then, his games played have read thusly; 81, 81, 78, 78, 78, 73, 65, a total of 534 games played out of a possible 574. Much better. God bless modern medical science. Also, did you know that Zydrunas Ilgauskas averages only 29 minutes per game for his career? Me neither. This makes his career offensive rebounding average of 3.1 per game look pretty damn good.
– 21st pick: Dontae’ [sic] Jones (New York) – Jones’ NBA career was short but not sweet, totalling a mere 15 games and 91 minutes with the Boston Celtics in the 1997/98 season. Since then, he’s done a world tour of the minor leagues, one that’s still going on today. With stops in Greece, Italy, the CBA, Venezuela and the ABA to his name, amongst others, Jones played last year in China. Did he put up huge numbers? Did he ever. Maybe even the biggest of the bunch; Jones averaged 31.6 points, 14.6 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 2.7 steals per game. If we were to nitpick, we could point out that those 1487 points came on 1356 shots, which is pretty poor efficiency, not helped by Jones taking 11 three-pointers per game and making only 29% of them. But for a 34-year-old to post 32/15 at any level of professional basketball is pretty damn impressive. Here’s to another year.
Quick trivia question; what common bond do three of the previous four players share between them, along with Dennis Rodman? Answer to follow.
– 22nd pick: Roy Rogers (Vancouver) – Rogers’ NBA career peaked pretty early. He played in all 82 games his rookie season, including 50 starts, but only played in 55 more NBA games in his lifetime. He was in and out of the NBA until 2002, making stops with the Grizzlies, Bulls, Cavaliers, Rockets, Kings and Nuggets along the way, with a couple of stints in Europe (Russia, Slovenia, Italy) thrown in. He can also claim to have once been traded for Scottie Pippen, which is quite the boast. Rogers’ last playing stint came in Poland in November 2003, before he went into coaching. He has now worked his way up the ranks to become an assistant for the New Jersey Nets.
– 23rd pick: Efthimios Rentzias (Denver) – Rentizas was covered back in April. Remember, I take requests. Fun fact: the two second-round picks that the Sixers gave up in 2002 to acquire Rentizas’s rights were the 37th pick in 2004, and the 42nd pick in 2006; those two picks were later used on Royal Ivey and Daniel Gibson. Whoops. Still, at least Ivey is a Sixer himself now. That numbs the pain. (Wait, no it doesn’t.)
– 24th pick: Derek Fisher (L.A. Lakers) – Still going strong. If things were different, Fisher would be being paid $7,354,500 this season by the Jazz to back up Deron Williams. As it is, though, he’ll be earning $5,048,000 to backup no one at all for the Lakers. I wonder if this will be his last year.
– 25th pick: Martin Muursepp (Utah) – Muursepp is still the only Estonian to have ever played in the NBA. He played two years and 83 games in the NBA, putting up a PER of 14.9, which is pretty good going. He left the NBA in 1998 after playing with European clubs during the NBA’s lockout while still under contract to the Suns, and he’s not been back. He was still playing as of the start of last season, when he signed back in his native Estonia with BC Kalev/Cramo Tallinn, but he didn’t play a game for them. This Estonian article breaks the news that Muursepp is about to become a father, and also boasts an up-to-date picture of him; the article’s title, when run through Google Translate, comes out as “That’s true! Martin is the father of Müürsepp!”
– 26th pick: Jerome Williams (Detroit) – Williams retired prematurely in 2006 and went back to his beloved Raptors to work as a community liaison assistant person thing. I’m assuming he was still there, or is at least a Raptor in some capacity, because unless Gene Keady has crapped in his kitchen or something, nothing is breaking Jerome’s undying love for that franchise. This is a man who wore Raptors shorts under his Bulls shorts while a member of Chicago, because he was so upset at being traded away.
– 27th pick: Brian Evans (Orlando) – Evans’ NBA career lasted for three years and three teams, culminating in a stint with the Timberwolves in 1998/99. He signed with Fenerbahce in Turkey in April 1999, but left after only one week “because of the situation in Kosovo.” (Not sure how that works. It’s not my quote.) Evans then spent four years in Italy and two years in Japan, before retiring in 2005. He then joined the real world, and used to be a senior vice president for Mesirow Financial, where his job was to drum up business for the insurance unit; however, he’s been removed from the company’s website, which presumably means he has left them. (This is a genius observation on my part.) Before that, Evans worked in insurance and real estate. He’s also done lots of things associated with Indiana University, from talking to the players to helping out at a camp to hosting some tournament draw or something. Exciting stuff.
– 28th pick: Priest Lauderdale (Atlanta) – Priest Lauderdale is still going, because 7’4 is still a commodity in the professional basketball world. In addition to being the worst player in the history of the NBA Live series of computer games, Lauderdale is also a minor league veteran, whose professional career has read thusly; Greece, Hawks, Nuggets, Bulls, CBA, CBA, Spain, Venezuela, China, Blazers, Cyprus, Philippines, Bulgaria, Bulgaria, Bulgaria, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Saudi Arabia, China, and finally Iran, where he is signed up to play next year with last year’s champions Saba Mehr. Gotta catch them all.
Priest Lauderdale fact: In his Philippines stint, Lauderdale was ejected from the league for being “too tall”; a pointless rule stipulated that teams could bring in two imports, but they couldn’t average more than 6’8 in height, and the team’s other import (Jermaine Walker) was 6’4. Strange times.
Another fun Priest Lauderdale fact; as you can see above, Lauderdale played three years in Bulgaria, and he was subsequently awarded Bulgarian citizenship in 2004. This nationalisation also saw him become – and I’m not joking – “Bulgaria’s Tallest Man.” That’s a life well led right there.
– 29th pick: Travis Knight (Chicago) – Travis Knight never played professionally outside of the NBA, which is a real rarity. He didn’t need to, considering the highly ambitious seven-year contract that the Celtics gave him back in 1997. He played seven years in the bigs before being waived by the Knicks in October 2003, after which he’s never played again. He now runs a charter fishing service in Nicaragua. True story. Here’s what he’s done to his appearance:
Knight still holds the record for the quickest foul-out in a playoff game, fouling out in six minutes in a 1999 Western Conference Finals game. He is also still the only person that I know of drafted in the first round whose draft rights were renounced by the team that drafted him because they didn’t think he was worth of the salary of a 29th pick. That’s quite the kick in the junk there.
(Trivia question answer: John Wallace, Walter McCarty, Dontae’ Jones and Dennis Rodman were all named as compelling protagonists in a “Free Sex For Famous Athletes” scandal that didn’t rock the world a few months ago. Doesn’t seem like too big of a news story, really. But there it is anyway.)
– 30th pick: Othella Harrington (Houston) – Harrington was let go by the Bobcats last summer, and sat out most of the following season. Then, bizarrely, he went to the D-League in late March, and played three games with the Los Angeles D-Fenders. However, he was poor in them, and was soon released. He is currently unsigned, and, given that he hasn’t been any good for four years, he’s probably done. He might not know it, though, and still speaks of a comeback. Good luck with that. [I think I use too many commas.]
– 31st pick: Mark Hendrickson (Philadelphia) – Hendrickson was a bit-part player in the NBA for four seasons, playing 114 games and rocking a career PER of 10.6. After that, he gave up basketball and went to play baseball, where he’s played for a variety of major league teams, perhaps most notably including my Tampa Bay Devil Rays [as were]. He is now a reliever for the Baltimore Orioles, where he throws average pitches to average effect. At least we managed to get one season of All Star-calibre freakishly-lucky singles-hitting out of Dioner Navarro as a result of our Hendrickson trade, which was something.
– 32nd pick: Ryan Minor (Philadelphia) – Minor is another baseball player, who never played professional basketball despite his draft position. He must have really liked baseball, because he was picked with the second pick in the second round of the NBA draft, went in the 33rd round of the MLB draft, and yet still favoured the baseball. Minor only barely cracked the majors, hitting .177 in his big league career with five home runs and a slightly severe strikeout problem. He retired in 2006 and is now a minor league hitting coach with the Orioles.
– 33rd pick: Moochie Norris (Milwaukee) – Mooch was last in the NBA in July 2006, when the Hornets waived him for his unguaranteed contract. That wasn’t the end of his basketball journey; he spent two seasons back in his old stomping ground, the Continental Basketball Association, and led it in assists. There was also a brief stint in Italy in there somewhere. But he didn’t play anywhere last season, and even though I’m pretty certain he’s going to have gone into coaching at some point, I can’t seem to find anything that confirms where he might be. Sorry about that.
– 34th pick: Shawn Harvey (Dallas) – Harvey’s professional career was not successful. He never played in the NBA, being waived in his first training camp, and his ensuing tryouts in the American minor leagues were not especially successful. He spent most of the next five years in the CBA, with small sojourns into the IBA, IBL, USBL and Italy thrown in. He was last heard of in 2001, when he tried to make the Roanoke Dazzle’s D-League roster. He failed. The internet is literally devoid of more Shawn Harvey information, but I’m 99.99999% sure that this is his Facebook account. So if you want to find out what he’s doing, there’s your starting point.
– 35th pick: Joseph Blair (Seattle) – Joseph Blair used to be so cool that he had two websites. Now, he has no websites. Blair didn’t sign in the NBA until the Bulls signed him for training camp in 2007. (The fact that Scott Skiles and Joseph Blair have the same agent couldn’t be connected to this, could it?) He appeared in a couple of preseason games for the Bulls, and missed a shedload of fourth quarter free throws, so that was fun. In the 11 years between those two NBA flurries, Blair has been a minor league and European journeyman, mainly in Italy, Turkey and Russia. And it’s Russia where he spent last year, playing in a few games for Spartak St Petersburg and averaging 8/8. His most notable contribution to last season was initiating a 16-man brawl in an October Russian Cup game that saw so many players ejected that the game eventually ended as a 3-3 affair. Blair was not one of the players ejected. That’s veteran savvy, that is. Here’s the face of one of the victims.
– 36th pick: Doron Sheffer (L.A. Clippers) – Sheffer never played in the NBA, but his rights were traded five years after he was drafted in exchange for Will Perdue. And that’s got to make any man feel good. Sheffer has spent his whole professional career in his native Israel, where he was one of the better players in the country from 1996 through until 2000, winning four consecutive national championships. Suddenly, he retired out of the blue, and embarked on a world tour. It turns out he had cancer, which he successfully beat. He returned in 2003, and saw out the rest of the 2002/03 season with Maccabi. Then he joined Hapoel Jerusalem for two years, and signed with Hapoel Tel-Aviv in October 2005, only to retire again, claiming that basketball was a “waste of time.” Again he came back, with this retirement lasting only two months; he rejoined Tel-Aviv for the remainder of the season, but managed only five games before breaking his hand. This prompted him to retire again, something he was increasingly familiar with doing. Equally familiar with unretirement, Sheffer unretired once more in summer 2007 for one final go-around (we think), spending the season with Hapoel Galil Elyon and averaging a meagre 4/2. He says he is now retired for the fourth time. Fair enough, but can we believe him?
– 37th pick: Jeff McInnis (Denver) – McInnis’s wildly inconsistent NBA career trundled to a stop in February 2008 when the Bobcats waived him. Since then, I have absolutely no idea what he’s been doing. Believe me, I’ve looked, but it’s hard to find basketball player Jeff McInnis information when there’s a TV chef of the same name who seems to have about 45 times more press coverage these days. But I do know that a few days ago, he played in a North Carolina alumni game thing. So we know he’s not dead, at least.
– 38th pick: Steve Hamer (Boston) – Hamer’s professional basketball career was brief. Like, really brief. He played 35 games with a weak Celtics team in 1996/97, and that’s literally all I’ve got. If he played anywhere else in the world, then I don’t know about it. Hamer is now an assistant coach for the girl’s team at Apostolic Christian School in Knoxville, something which he presumably does in conjunction with a day job. I would have looked harder for information about him, but once I found myself reading an online tribute to his dead mother-in-law, I realised quite how weird and excessive what I’m doing here is. And so I stopped with Steve Hamer and moved onto Russ Millard.
– 39th pick: Russ Millard (Phoenix) – Millard never played in the NBA, or anywhere really. He split the 1996/97 season between Italy and the CBA, spent the next couple of summers in Puerto Rico, had one more go around in the CBA, then found himself in the French second division in 1999/2000. And then that was it. It’s really hard to find a single thing about Russ Millard, but he did go to a special food giveaway held by Ryan Bowen last July, and he was inducted into the Iowa High School Athletic Association’s Basketball Hall of Fame back in March. He is now a gym instructor. This is a picture of him and his hairline, freaking out of a kid that is not his own. Hot socks.
– 40th pick: Marcus Mann (Golden State) – Mann’s story is pretty unique. He signed with the Warriors for the 1996/97 season, but he didn’t play a game for them, leaving the team at the end of training camp. And then he left basketball. Seriously. He just got up and left it behind. Forever. Well, sort of forever; he came back in late 1998 to play for the La Crosse Bobcats in the CBA, but injured his knee in only his second game. THEN he walked away for good, ne’er to return. As good as he was as basketball, he didn’t want to play it as much as he wanted to help kids, so he gave up the game and went to work as a chaplain at a correctional facility for 13-20 year olds. And if you don’t believe me, read this.
– 41st pick: Jason Sasser (Sacramento) – Sasser played only 14 games in the NBA, eight in the 1996/97 season split between the Spurs and Mavericks, and six in the 1998/99 season with the Vancouver Grizzlies. He’s still playing, showing up as recently as this January with the awesomely-named Pusan KTF Magic Wings in the [South] Korean Basketball League. Sasser averaged 15.2 points and 6.5 rebounds in 11 games. He’s clearly still got it.
Jeryl Sasser information [his brother] will appear in the 2002 roundup, which we’ll hopefully get to within the next eight months.
– 42nd pick: Randy Livingston (Houston) – Randy Livingston was 95% sure that he was going to retire in the summer of 2006. But he didn’t. Not even close, really; he played two more years in the D-League with the Idaho Stampede, averaging 12.3 points, 4.7 rebounds and 10.6 assists per game in 2006/07, and improving to 16.5 points, 4.2 rebounds and 10.5 assists per game in 2007/08. He even got called up to the Sonics for four games in April 2007, just to complete the comeback. Only after the 2008 season did he retire and go into coaching, like he had threatened to do a long time before. He spent last year as an assistant coach for the Stampede, and has now moved to the expansion Maine Red Claws to be an assistant there instead. He’ll be a head coach one day, and probably an NBA head coach one day at that.
– 43rd pick: Ben Davis (Phoenix) – Davis turns 37 on Boxing Day, but he’s not done with yet. He played 40 games over four NBA seasons, and has spent the rest of his time since then doing the minor league tour. His stops have included the CBA, Puerto Rico, Spain, CBA again, Puerto Rico again, Greece, CBA again, ABA, Venezuela, Dominican Republic, Spain again, Philippines, Italy, USBL, France, Dominican Republic again, Portugal, Uruguay, Venezuela again, Syria, Costa Rica, and finally Mexico, where he played last season and averaged six rebounds per game. Davis also signed up for a number of training camp spots in that time, including with the Rockets in 2003 at the ripe old age of 30. He’s put work in, definitely.
– 44th pick: Malik Rose (Charlotte Hornets) – Rose was in the NBA up to and including last season, where the Thunder weirdly traded Chris Wilcox for him. Even if you don’t want Chris Wilcox and have no intention of bringing him back, do you really want/need to trade him for Malik Rose? Didn’t get that. But it’s all inconsequential anyway. Rose is unsigned, and I haven’t seen anything about a single team being interested in him.
– 45th pick: Joe Vogel (Seattle) – The Sonics had given up the 28th pick in this draft (Lauderdale) in exchange for the 45th and 47th picks, but they got nothing with the 45th one. Vogel never made the Sonics roster, or even the NBA in general; he spent the years between 1996 and 2000 in other leagues, starting with Turkey and moving onto Japan, Saudi Arabia and the Lebanon. In 2000, he signed with the Clippers for training camp, but didn’t make the team, so he went to the CBA, and then back to Lebanon for another year. In 2002 Vogel tried again for the NBA, signing with the Jazz for training camp, but again he didn’t make the team. He split the 2002/03 season between China and Puerto Rico, then moved back to the Lebanon for the 2003/04 season, where he’s been ever since.
Counting fans will have noticed that that’s eight total years he’s spent in the Lebanon, and it’s more than enough to have earned him a Lebanese passport. But the passport isn’t just a token gesture to Vogel; he’s been the Lebanese national starting centre for many years. Last year he averaged 10.7 points and 7.0 rebounds per game, numbers quite dramatically down on the previous year’s averages. But he’s 36 next week, so that’s probably a reasonable thing to expect.
– 46th pick: Marcus Brown (Portland) – Brown is still going as well, signed through 2010 with the remnants of the once-great Lithuanian team, Zalgiris Kaunas. His NBA career lasted only 27 games, 21 in 1996/97 with Portland and six in 1999/00 with the Pistons, but the rest-of-the-world career has been pretty biblical. He’s won the French league twice (1998, 2000), the Spanish ACB once (2006), the Russian Superleague title twice (2004, 2005), the Turkish league championships (2002), the Lithuanian league (2008) and the Israeli league (2009). You’ll notice that that’s one for almost every year right there; in fact, the only two non-NBA seasons for Brown in which he DIDN’T win the domestic league were 2001 (when he was injured and missed several weeks), 2003 (when his team finished a dreadful, awful, humiliating second) and 2007 (in which his team, Unicaja Malaga, still managed to make the EuroLeague semi-finals.) Even last season, at the ripe old age of 35, Brown was still able to average 12 points per game in the EuroLeague. Marcus Brown makes teams win. Zalgiris are lucky to have him.
– 47th pick: Ron Riley (Seattle) – Zalgiris would be less lucky to have Ron Riley, who has never really done anything as a professional player. Riley never played in the NBA, which means that between him and Vogel, Seattle traded Priest Lauderdale for literally nothing. And whatever you may think of the world’s tallest Bulgarian, he’s better than nothing.
Riley spent a few years doing the rounds, but never did anything to stand out in high-calibre leagues; his only big year came in 2000/2001, when he averaged 23 points per game, but unfortunately that was in Austria. Riley played a few games in the D-League in 2003, averaging 4.5 points per game for the now-defunct Huntsville Flight, and then he went to Syria. His last professional outing came in the ABA with the Las Vegas Rattlers, for whom he played one game in November 2004. And then that was it.
After giving up the game, Riley went back to school to complete his psychology degree at the University of Great Falls; while he was there, he took a job as an assistant coach for the basketball team. The head coach at Great Falls was the equipment manager at Arizona State University at the same time that Riley was the team’s star player, so that’s an interesting switchaloomba they’ve got going on there. (He also doubles as the golf coach, which says something about the NAIA.)
Ron Riley fact: Ron Riley’s cousin is NBA point guard, Marcus Banks. It’s all good information.
– 48th pick: Jamie Feick (Philadelphia) – Feick was a baller, who could flat-out rebound if not much else, but his body didn’t want to know. His last NBA game came in early 2001, before he had to retire prematurely with a heel injury. He stayed on the roster for two more years due to the injury exception rule thing, but there was no more basketball left in him. He’s now a professional bass fisherman, of all things. Do you want his Facebook? Course you do.
– 49th pick: Amal McCaskill (Orlando) – Amal McCaskill is still playing. It’s been four years since he made a training camp roster, but he’s still trying. Last year he played for Igokea in Bosnia, and before that he’s played in the Philippines, the UAE, what’s left of the CBA, the Lebanon…..all the big names. He was recently drafted in the KBL Draft, which should mean he’s got at least one more year coming.
– 50th pick: Terrell Bell (Houston) – Despite four training camp appearances, Bell never played in the NBA. He spent most of his career in the CBA, venturing out to Spain, Turkey and Poland at various times. He finished his career in Argentina in January 2005, where he played five games and averaged 1.0 points per game. That wasn’t a typo. I can’t find any information about his post-playing career, mainly because there’s a Virginia Tech guard called Terrell Bell who also came from Georgia, and it’s damn-near impossible to filter through all the information about him. They broke me on this one.
– 51st pick: Chris Robinson (Vancouver) – Robinson appeared in 76 NBA games between 1996 and 1998 with a career eFG of .467%. The rest of his career was unexciting; some CBA here, some ABA there, one small stint in Italy and a short turn in the early days of the D-League. Robinson’s last gig was in the ABA in the 2004/05 season, where he averaged 10.1 points per game for the Carolina Thunder. (A great name for a team, but a greater name for a girl.)
– 53rd pick: Jeff Nordgaard (Milwaukee) – Nordgaard, too, was briefly touched upon not so long ago. He raised his scoring average by 0.1 of a point since that post was written, to a scintillating 0.5 points per game. That’s two made field goals in a season, folks. Nordgaard has spent the last four years in Poland, and…he’s clearly run out of juice now. This is probably it, unless he has a third wind in there somewhere. It might do him good to get out of Poland.
– 54th pick: Shandon Anderson (Utah) – The Knicks finally moved Shanderson in 2004, over three years after the Patrick Ewing trade that brought him in in the first place. Shandon then spent two years with the Heat, and managed to win a ring in that time, albeit through little work of his own. I can’t find anything that Shandon has done in the three years hence, but considering all the money he earned in the NBA, he has no real reason to get out of bed these days, so I wouldn’t be surprised or disheartened if he just didn’t bother.
– 55th pick: Ronnie Henderson (Washington) – Henderson went from being a blazing hot recruit to being barely a professional player. He was drafted near to last in the draft, never played in the NBA, walked out of his only NBA training camp, and played only three professional seasons before jacking it all in. Henderson played in an LSU alumni game in February, so he’s not dead, but he sure is quiet. Apparently he now works with a housekeeping firm in his native Gulfport. It took me 45 minutes to find the material for that last sentence. I’m wasting my life.
– 56th pick: Reggie Geary (Cleveland) – Geary played 39 NBA games with the Cavaliers in 1996/97, played 62 games with the Spurs in 1997/98, and posted a combined PER of 7.3 between the two. After that, he did the usuals (CBA, USBL, etc) and was briefly a Harlem Globetrotter. He wound up his career in Ukraine in 2003. After that, he went back to school to complete his degree, and then went behind the scenes, working as a director of basketball operations for Arizona University in 2005/06, later moving to the Anaheim Arsenal to work as an assistant coach. He then became the head coach of the Arse, but moved back to Arizona for the 2008/09 season to be an assistant there. Geary is now an assistant coach at Southern Methodist University.
– 57th pick: Drew Barry (Seattle) – The Barry brother that no one knew about, Barry played in the CBA in the 1996/97 season, then squeaked out the next three years as a bit-part player in the NBA. Germany, Italy, Poland and China followed, before Barry’s basketball career dribbled to a stop in 2004. He is now a commentator on ESPNU.
– 58th pick: Darnell Robinson (Dallas) – Robinson never played in the NBA, and his professional career lasted only four years. He managed to visit all of France, Italy, Puerto Rico, Greece and Israel in that time, which is not bad going, but he was also released once for disciplinary problems (he failed to attend the All-Star game) and battled weight issues and subsequent foot injuries for his entire career. Robinson was once thought of as a hot prospect, but it never amounted to anything significant, and he remains one of the bigger busts in McDonalds All-American history. (I’ve just realised how little sense that last sentence makes to people who don’t know what it references.) He now lives in Oakland.