By Larry Harris
The 2011 NBA champions have already been crowned, but as a farewell to this exciting season, PressBox offers a quick list of 15 Baltimore natives or residents who have played in basketball’s major league through the years.
In alphabetical order, here are:
1: Carmelo Anthony
It doesn’t seem that Anthony has already logged eight NBA seasons as a Denver Nugget or New York Knick, but the stats don’t lie, and they say one of the premier shotmakers in all of basketball has averaged nearly 25 points per game per season. Of course, the product of Towson Catholic High School also took Syracuse to a NCAA championship during his only college year.
2: Muggsy Bogues
He was the shortest player, at 5-foot-3, ever to play in the NBA, and the Dunbar High graduate lasted for an exceptional 15 seasons, 10 of them with the then-Charlotte Hornets. Believe it or not, Bogues blocked 39 shots during his pro career.
3: Keith Booth
He will always be remembered as the Dunbar star who broke the city’s silent feud with Maryland and joined Gary Williams’ merry gang. He was a first-round draft pick of Chicago and played two seasons with the Bulls, then became a significant member of Maryland’s coaching staff. Unfortunately, his job disappeared with Williams’ recent retirement.
4: Sam Cassell
One of Dunbar’s most famous graduates tallied more than 15,000 points and owns three NBA championship rings during a career that covered almost 1,000 regular-season games and more than 125 in the playoffs. Some think Cassell, now an assistant coach with the Washington Wizards, will wind up leading his own team one day.
5: Quintin Dailey
After starring at Cardinal Gibbons High, Dailey went on to average 25 points per game at the University of San Francisco. He was a first-round choice of Chicago and played 10 years in the NBA, averaging 14 points per game. He died in his sleep from heart disease at age 49.
6: Dudley Bradley
A defensive specialist coming out of Edgewater High, Bradley played his college ball at North Carolina and is in the NBA record books for recording nine steals during two separate games in 1980 as a member of the Indiana Pacers. He played nine NBA seasons and holds the rookie season record for steals with 211.
7: Juan Dixon
One of the great success stories ever to come out of Baltimore, Dixon set scoring records at Calvert Hall and was the MVP on the Maryland team that won the national championship nine years ago. Despite his small frame, the hotshot shooter lasted seven years with four teams in the NBA and is still active in European leagues.
8: Duane Ferrell
Another Calvert Hall product, Ferrell averaged 19 points per game during his senior year at Georgia Tech. He wasn’t drafted, but hooked on early with Indiana and wound up playing seven seasons, five of which put him in playoff competition. He’s still in the NBA as a member of the Atlanta Hawks’ management.
9: Rudy Gay
There was never any doubt that this Archbishop Spalding grad would eventually be in the NBA. He left the University of Connecticut early and has been the Memphis Grizzlies’ leading scorer for the last four years. A shoulder injury caused the high flyer to miss the last 25 games of the just-concluded season and Memphis’ exciting playoff run, but he will be healthy again in the fall.
10: Reggie Lewis
Perhaps the greatest tragedy of Baltimore basketball history was the death of this Dunbar High-Northeastern University grad and Boston Celtics star at the age of 27 in 1993. Lewis had averaged 17 points per game and was the Celtics’ captain when he collapsed during a practice session, setting off a storm of controversy. His jersey is forever commemorated at the Celtics’ home.
11: Gene Shue
No one put Baltimore basketball on the map more than Gene Shue, who starred at Towson Catholic, then at Maryland and then spent 10 years in the NBA. Shue coached for 23 years in the league and was Coach of the Year twice. Now a California resident, he’s still going strong as a scout.
12: Wes Unseld
The man who played even bigger than his considerable size didn’t come to Baltimore until after his college days at Louisville, but what an explosion he made. He was the NBA Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Year — at the same time — and he initiated a style of outlet passing that is still emulated. Unseld’s records with the Bullets-Wizards as a player, coach and general manager speak for themselves and he and his wife still run a school here.
13: Marvin Webster
The “Human Eraser” came out of Edmondson High and took Morgan State to a national Division II championship before playing nine seasons in the NBA. The 7-footer still holds the Seattle SuperSonics’ record for rebounds in a half with 21. He died suddenly of heart disease in 2009 at age 56.
14: Reggie Williams
They called him “Silk” at Dunbar and he was just that as a freshman in the national championship victory for Georgetown against Houston in 1984. He went on to play 10 seasons for six NBA teams and is now a coach at Archbishop Carroll in Washington, D.C.
15: David Wingate
Another member of that fabled Dunbar team of the ’80s, Wingate was a key cog in that national champion year at Georgetown and then the defensive dandy lasted a surprising 15 years in the NBA with five different teams.
In writing about Baltimore basketball, Eckman has to be included. He was a fabulous college and NBA referee, a title-winning NBA coach, a horse racing “expert” and the worst — and most listened-to — sports announcer in this city’s history, with apologies to Chuck Thompson et al. He died at age 74 in 1995.
Check out Keith Mills’ list of his top 15 Baltimore NBA players, plus a list of guys who just missed the list.
And don’t forget to let us know what you think!
Issue 162: June 2011