November 20, 2013

Righting a wrong

Nice to see Bernard King - "the greatest player nobody talks about" (Simmons) - get his propers and go into the Hall of Fame.  Well deserved.  He was a ballstopper, and not a noted defender, and didn't rebound as much as Bird or Erving (see Erving comparison here)…but for about five years there you'd have to say he was the most potent offensive force in basketball.  Here are his legendary back-to-back 50 point games:

Watching these I'm struck by how complete his game is.  He's driving, getting to the line, dunking, taking alley-oops for layups, scoring off offensive rebounds…  But the core is the jump shot.  Long jumpers, short jumpers, face-up jumpers, semi-hook jumpers, turnaround jumpers, turnaround double-pump jumpers, etc.

I'm also struck by how often he beat the double team by going past one guy and shooting over the other.

He did not just do this against white men in Texas.  He also did it to good teams in big games.  He didn't fly like Jordan, but during his peak years he was just as capable of dropping 50 on you.  Simmons comments on the '84 playoffs vs. the Celtics:
That series went seven even though Boston had Bird, McHale, Parish, DJ, Maxwell, Ainge, Scott Wedman, Gerald Henderson and M. L. Carr; Bernard was flanked by Bill Cartwright, Truck Robinson, Darrell Walker, Trent Tucker, Rory Sparrow, Louis Orr, Ernie Grunfeld and a six-foot-seven homeless guy that they found on 34th Street right before the series.  How many players could have carried a lousy supporting cast to seven games against a loaded Celtics team? Other than Jordan and LeBron, I can’t think of another postmerger player who does it.
Well, Erving, but you get the point.  With all due respect (*snerk*), the early 80s Celtics could be hilarious underachievers.  Anyway, they tried triple teaming King in one game of the '84 series.  It worked, kind of:  he only got 46...


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