TDR keeps it rolling with another 5-year release of 3rd & 4th round draft profiles: 1971-1975
1971-1975 Main Highlights:
George Gervin - This future hall of famer was an afterthought coming out of Eastern Michigan, but it wasn’t because of his talent. When Gervin was selected by the Phoenix Suns he had already been playing two years for the NBA’s rival, the ABA. At the time early entry was new and much different than today. It was labeled “going hardship”, and the player was required to prove the existence of financial distress beyond their control
George "Iceman" Gervin
which forced them to become professional. Depending on the situation the NCAA would give their blessing or deny the player.
Gervin dropped out of college and was drafted by the rouge ABA. This organization broke barriers. The ABA drafted players out of high school (Moses Malone), played banned NBA players (Connie Hawkins) and drafted underclassmen out of college, regardless if they declared or not.
Gervin spent four years in the ABA and earned three all star appearances. He demonstrated amazing showmanship that endeared him to many fans. Even though the NBA drafted him two years after he left college for the ABA, the Phoenix Suns never had a chance to sign Gervin. The San Antonio Spurs entered the NBA through the merger with the Iceman on their roster. Gervin went on to enjoy a Hall of Fame career and become one of the game’s greatest scorers, earning nine NBA all-star appearances.
Clifford Ray - His name may escape the lips of so-called NBA historians, but just ask anyone who played during his time. Clifford Ray is one of the best interior defenders to play the game. He was a fiercely tough competitor whom teammates and coaches loved. Ray is one of those players whose ability was hard to measure. His former Chicago Bulls team traded him to Golden State for Nate Thurmond and some cash. Many observers of the 1975 Golden State team will agree that, despite superstar players Rick Barry and Jamaal Wilkes, the Championship would not have been secure without Clifford Ray. He was a rebounder and intimidator who would block shots, dive on the floor, and do whatever it took to walk away with the win. Ray never made an all-star team, but was an excellent player and an absolute steal in the third round. He can now be found on the sidelines for the Boston Celtics where he is an assistant coach.
Don Buse - Buse is a widely respected player armed with great fundamentals and is one of purest jump shooters of the early 1970’s, yet defense is where he made his claim as a four-time NBA defensive first teamer. Although Buse made only one all-star game, much of this had to do with his unflashy style of play and “team first attitude”. He was never a big scorer, often allowing his teammates to shine despite his prowess as a perimeter shooter. After a solid 13-year playing career Buse took some time as an assistant coach with the Sacramento Kings before a drug problem with cocaine forced him out. Buse enjoys an avid hobby as a horse owner and has been seen at several events.
Kevin Porter - He is arguably the best player ever at 39th pick overall, rivaled only by Al Attles. Porter was a tremendous passer with solid defensive skills, but is “me first” attitude stifled his talent. He is known as a selfish assist man, forcing passes, and a gambler on defense, which often put him at odds with coaches. Yet he is one of the quickest guards to ever play the game and was an extremely productive player as he led the NBA in assists on four different occasions. An ACL injury in Porter's fourth season caused him long term problems throughout his career. Before the advancement of ACL surgeries, this type of injury would spell the end of an athlete. Luckily, Porter was able to maintain a career, but most often with problems due to fluid buildup and swelling. Some claim he wasn’t as quick as he was before the injury. Following his retirement from the NBA Porter went on to coach at Jensen Academy, an elementary school in Chicago.
Larry Kenon - Special K, as he was known, was just as his name implied - Special. Kenon was one of the first big, small forwards capable of dominating with his rebounding and athleticism. Bob McAdoo and Kenon changed in some ways the mindset of college basketball. As junior college players they made immediate impacts to their respected college teams. Most junior college players where looked at negatively by colleges, but that is not to say colleges weren’t recruiting JUCO players. Schools like San Francisco and Kentucky had a few good complementary players with junior college ties to their programs.
McAdoo and Kenon were centerpieces on their respected teams. Kenon only played one season at Memphis, but took the team to the 1973 NCAA championship game where they lost to UCLA, who had Bill Walton and a host of other future pros. Kenon left school early and joined the upstart ABA basketball league where he was a three time all-star. After the ABA merger with the NBA the all-star appearances didn’t stop as Kenon saw two more berths on two NBA all-star teams in the late 1970's with the San Antonio Spurs. Larry converted to the Muslim faith after his playing career was over and now goes by the name Muhsin Kenon. He considered by this historian to be the greatest ever at 50th pick overall in the NBA draft and one of the NBA’s most underrated players.
Mickey Johnson - Coming out of tiny Aurora College, Johnson was a 12-year pro and starter for at least half of those years. As 56th pick overall, Johnson was not only an obvious steal, but clearly the best ever at that draft spot. His closest challenger is Chris Carr, the 6 year role player that played admirably in the NBA, yet is still far from the level of Johnson.
Johnson’s all-around skills made him a versatile player. Despite his height at 6-9, he primarily played the small forward position at a time when it was a rarity. This often frustrated coaches, who considered Johnson soft and unable to play consistent. In turn, Johnson dealt his coaches a smug attitude as he often played out of position at the power forward spot. Regardless of this, Johnson was a tremendous player who managed to outlast 12 of 18 first round draft picks from the 1974 NBA draft.
1971-1975 Research Problems:
Gerald Lockett - Lockett’s freshman year is a mystery. It is undetermined whether he attended Arkansas Pine Bluff in his first year, or a Junior College. But what may be worse is the fact that Pine Bluff had no clue that Lockett even played for them in his remaining years. Thankfully, his numbers were mostly salvaged due to a private collector.
George Adams - Few stats, if any, during Gardner Webb’s early years as a Division One college are available or able to be found. Adams attended the school when it was a Junior College and stayed with the program during its progression. All stats released on his profile have been pieced together with odds and ends through various sources. Field goal percentage and free throw percentage are almost non-existent.
Joe Reaves - He had one of the most difficult stats to obtain during my 3rd and 4th round research. The school was able to supply Reaves’ career numbers, but for the most part could not provide much else. Thus, Reaves’ stats have a good deal of holes in multiple areas.
Lerman Battle - Battle’s school (Fairmont State) also struggled to provide me with anything but his career numbers. Like most on this list his overall numbers aren’t as spotty as Reaves’, but still missing a good bit of data. Again, most of the information was pieced together from various sources.There is more great stuff coming out of my historical vault. Dig into this latest release as I move on to make ready the 3rd and 4th round draft picks, 1976 through 1980.