A while ago, I wrote 10 Things You May Not Have Known About the NBA or it’s Players, and it seemed as though most people enjoyed it. So today, I’m creating a Part Two to that list, and hopefully you will learn some new interesting facts about the NBA.
#10: Pau Gasol‘s Schooling
Before becoming an NBA All-Star and playing alongside NBA greats such as Lamar Odom, Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Ron Artest, and many more, Gasol, it seemed, was destined to become a doctor. Gasol loved basketball from a young age, but when he was 11 years old, Magic Johnson announced his retirement from basketball due to contracting HIV. Gasol (bless his heart) decided that he would become a doctor and find a cure for aids. This was no idle dream, as Gasol would enroll at the University of Barcelona’s medical school to become a doctor. However, much like Dikembe Mutombo, Gasol’s basketball career took off and soon he found himself playing in the NBA. Imagine how Magic and Gasol’s first ever conversation went, and if Gasol isn’t one of your favorite basketball players, he should be.
#9: Manute Bol‘s Blocks
Manute Bol is one of the best shot blockers in the history of the NBA. Standing at 7’7″, Bol could block shots with ease, and finished his career with a 3.3 block per game average. In every season except for 1993 where Bol played over 50 games, he averaged more blocked shots per game than points per game. While Elmore Smith still holds the record for most blocked shots in a game (17), Bol holds the single game rookie record for blocks in a game with 15, and recorded 15 blocks in another game one year later, tying the NBA record for eight blocks in the 4th quarter. However, while 15 is the official record for the most shots Bol blocked in a game, there is a game that may have happened which is so astonishing, it’s on the level of Wilt Chamberlain’s quintuple-double game.
When Bol came to America to play college basketball, the NCAA questioned his eligibility because of some medical records and dates of birth that could not be provided. Because he could not play Division One Basketball, Bol played Division Two ball at the University of Bridgeport. While statistics from different games are difficult to track down, we do know that Bol averaged around 22 points, 14 rebounds, and 7 blocks per game in college before being drafted in the second round of the 1985 NBA Draft. However, his best ever game played at Bridgeport was a 32-point-29 rebound-31 block performance! 31 blocks! While there is no way to track this down and see if it did truly happen, I believe that it could have, because of how skilled Bol was and how any NBA player would have feasted on Division Two talent.
#8: A Canceled Dunk Contest?
In 1997, the NBA might have had its worst ever Slam Dunk contest in modern history. The one highlight of the horrible event was Kobe Bryant winning the contest with his between the legs “Eastbay” dunk. Because ratings dropped so low, the contest was canceled the next year due to a lack of fan interest! Yes, 1998 and 1999 didn’t have a dunk contest during NBA All-Star Weekend! Luckily, the NBA would bring the event back in 2000, where Vince Carter would completely revive the event with his jaw-dropping performance. Ever since, the dunk contest has not left All-Star Weekend. It makes you wonder: If Vince Carter saved the Dunk Contest, then is he the greatest dunker ever?
Many NBA players have grown up together and played with one another, as I wrote about in a separate article. However, it isn’t often that one future NBA player has another future NBA player to look up to like an older brother. While younger players have their inspirations and idols to model their game after, Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics had an older brother figure early in his childhood… and that was Bradley Beal of the Washington Wizards.
As Beal was finishing a high school basketball career at Chaminade Prep and getting ready to attend the University of Florida, Jayson Tatum was an 8th grader trying to make the Chaminade Prep team the following year. Beal is also the reason why Tatum trains with Drew Hanlen, who started out as Beal’s personal trainer but soon evolved into one of the most respected NBA trainers in the modern era. However, even before they became basketball superstars, the two were so close that Beal babysat Tatum!
#6: Yinka Dare‘s Trouble With Assists
Yinka Dare was drafted with the 14th overall pick in the 1994 NBA Draft by the New Jersey Nets. Unfortunately, he would only play one game his rookie season due to injury. However, in the second season that followed, Dare found it difficult to get credit for an assist, in part because he was a 7’0″ center before modern shooters existed and in part because the New Jersey Nets were so terrible and the offense didn’t flow around him. Dare went 58 games without a single assist, and if you look at his Basketball-Reference page, you’ll see that he averaged 0.0 assists per game, which is crazy to think about.
#5: The San Antonio Spurs Crazy Winning
The San Antonio Spurs are definitively winners in everyone’s book. While the current 2021 Spurs have a lot to improve on, they have had some all-time great players on their roster, such as Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobli, Bruce Bowen, Boris Diaw, Kawhi Leonard, David Robinson, and so many more. Because of how the San Antonio dynasty played out and how they kept winning for nearly two decades, the Spurs have a winning record against every NBA team. Every single one. This does not include teams before the ABA merger, such as the Virginia Squires and Kentucky Colonels. While they may not stay this way for long, it is a crazy accomplishment. You can click here to see the proof for yourself.
#4: The crazy amount of time Kareem Abdul-Jabaar spent playing basketball
The current NBA record for most minutes played in a career is held by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, which should not be surprising to anyone who knows that he played in the NBA for 20 seasons and holds the record for most points ever in a career, with 38,387. However, Abdul-Jabbar also holds the record for most minutes played in an NBA career, with 57,446 minutes logged. If we convert this to hours, this equals around 957 hours, and if we convert this to days, then we find that Abdul-Jabbar played the equivalent of 40 straight days of NBA basketball! Now that is longevity.
#3: How Robert Parish picked his number
Robert Parish is known for wearing the number 00 throughout his entire career, including while on the Golden State Warriors, Boston Celtics, and Chicago Bulls (with Michael Jordan towards the end of his career). However, the reason he wears 00 stems all the way back to junior high school. Back in middle school, Parish didn’t care that much about basketball, and skipped it whenever he could. Because of this, Parish was by far the worst player on the team. When the team got their jerseys for the upcoming season, Parish got 00 because it was the last number available.
“My junior high school team gave out jersey numbers to the player [based on] the scale of talent. The best players got their jerseys first. And then, the players that wasn’t as good as the starting five, that’s who got the remaining jerseys. And being that I was the worst player on the team at the time, 00 was the last jersey. So that’s how I got the number 00… and the number just stuck with me.”Robert Parish on the “In the Post with Elvin Hayes” podcast
However, after embracing the number and putting in the work, Parish would become a star, which led to future NBA Stars wearing 0 and 00 as well, such as Gilbert Arenas, Russell Westbrook, Damian Lillard, Jayson Tatum, Carmelo Anthony, DeMarcus Cousins, and many, many more.
#2: Stan Van Gundy and Doc Rivers‘ Trades
It seems as though we hear about players getting traded all the time, and during the offseason, it’s almost a nightly occurrence. However, one thing that we don’t hear much about is a little-known rule in the NBA: You can trade coaches, it just has to be for cash and/or draft picks, not players. There have only been two coaches traded in NBA history, and those two coaches are Stan Van Gundy and Doc Rivers. The first coach to be traded was Van Gundy, and that happened in 2005. After the 2005 playoffs, Pat Riley, who was then an executive for the Miami Heat, decided he wanted to coach the team. The problem was, Van Gundy was already the coach of the Heat. So, after some arguments, Van Gundy agreed to coach the Orlando Magic, despite the fact he was still under contract by the Miami Heat. However, Miami would solve this problem by letting Van Gundy coach Orlando in exchange for two second-round picks. This would work out, as ultimately the Heat would win their first championship the next year, and the Magic would make a finals appearance in 2009.
The second (and only other occurrence so far) of a coach getting traded came in 2013, with Doc Rivers. It was clear that the Celtics’ glory days were past, and Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce were well past their primes. At this point, Ray Allen was on the Miami Heat, and Danny Ainge, the Celtics President of Basketball Operations, decided it was time to rebuild. In addition to trading the Hall-of-Famers to the Nets for tons of draft capital, Ainge also traded Rivers to the Los Angeles Clippers, since Rivers wanted to coach for a team that was trying to win and have success in the playoffs. The 2015 first-round pick the Celtics acquired in exchange for Rivers became R.J. Hunter, who didn’t turn into anything special. However, the Celtics would acquire Brad Stevens as their new head coach, so it worked out just fine for them.
#1: Gilbert Arenas used a coin flip to decide his free agency
After Gilbert Arenas emerged as a star for the Golden State Warriors, becoming an All-Star and winning the Most Improved Player award, he became highly sought after in NBA free agency. In 2003, Arenas decided that he was either going to sign with the Washington Wizards or the Los Angeles Clippers, but because he loved both franchises so much, he was torn and couldn’t choose. It is said that Arenas flipped a coin ten times to choose with franchise to sign with, and when Los Angeles came up eight times out of ten, he decided to go against the odds and sign with the Wizards.
Which of these facts did you find the craziest? Let me know in the comments below, don’t forget to follow the NBA Blog, and as always, have an awesome day!