Thursday, January 25, 2007
Hello there. Today is the day that Chris Mills was born, but, understandably, Chris Mills didn't make enough of an impact on basketball or the James man to get his own column. (I thought about doing a Dick "the Knick" McGuire piece, but to be perfectly frank I don't have the research time. Once again, the Red Storm gets the shaft. Happy birthday Dick!)
I want to wish Chris a happy birthday because he was the winner by knockout of possibly the most amazing fight in NBA history. I'll let the footage speak for itself. [The video I linked to incorrectly identifies Chris Mills as Mark "Pud" (no idea where this nickname came from) Davis. Wikipedia also says it's Mark Davis. Maybe I'm the one who is wrong, but I am fairly sure that is Chris Mills, and either way, it's an excuse to show maybe my favorite clip of all time. Chris Mills was #34 and I have no idea what Mark Davis was, but I can't make out the number. If anyone can or has any further details please let me know.]
Today's column is borne from the victim of that dust-up, The Stormin' Mormon, Mr. Shawn Bradley (Does everybody from Brigham Young get that nickname?). You see, watching his large goofy body crumple to the floor after a vicious grapple-slam by Mills made me think, I bet people would be interested in a list of very ("freakishly") tall basketball players. I'm talking about guys like Mark Eaton (7'5"), the mustached redhead shotblocking motherfucker who would have gone down as the greatest non-Dantlian, non-Maravician Jazz player in history if it wasn't for those Stockton and Malone guys. (Some rare video footage of MJ crapping on Eaton here. Notice the terrible timing of Eaton's jumps and his inability to predict MJ's reverses.) [Side note: while checking stats just now, I realized that in 1975, Bernie Fryer (the NBA referee who is/was pretty decent), a BYU alum who also could have the nickname "Stormin' Mormon", played with Pistol Pete. Just thought that was interesting.]
So let me present to you, my wonderful reader:
The Giants of Basketball
The tallest man ever to play basketball (who I couldn't find a picture of, dammit) was not a Canadian by the name of Nash but a Libyan by the name of Nashnush. Suleiman Ali Nashnush was by all accounts statistically irrelevant (I couldn't find any statistics, dammit), and was perhaps most famous for playing an extra in Fellini's Satyricon, which is about orgies. This makes me wonder if an orgy with Nashnush would be considered a "Nashnush Mush". Probably not... Sorry... Anyway, he was the only guy to shoot the roundball that topped 8 feet, standing a full 8 feet, one half inch.
Next on the list is Kosen "The Turkish Delight" Sultan. (I don't want to sound overly prejudicial here, but isn't it weird how all these guys are Muslim? And Osama is like 6'8"? Does that mean he could ball? Could we sentence him to death by Shaq attack?) I do have a picture of this crazy man, who some say is actually taller than the great Nashnush! Kosen also has an interesting parallel with Yao Ming in that no one can really figure out which of his names goes first. It might be Sultan Kosen. I don't know. Isn't it amazing how small he makes that basketball look?
Those two Muslim fellows are the two biggest guys ever to play the sport. There's some more that are on the precipice of hugeness, but for now I'd like to concentrate on some ballers:
The next man, who has been trying to get into the NBA for years, is from another country with a checkered diplomatic past, North Korea. His name is Ri Myong Hun. The letters in his name can be rearranged to spell "Grimy Ho Nun". The NBA won't let him in because the State Department won't let him get paid and give funds to the North Korean government. So he is just really huge and inoperative, (kind of like the North Korean army! ha ha ha! oh my...) because the North Korean team doesn't exactly hit the international competitions. (Full story here)
The larges player ever in the NBA was Manute Bol (7'7"), aka Bol Manute (again). Manute is a legend for many reasons. He was a failed 3-point specialist under the tutelage of Don Nelson and he fought William Refrigerator Perry on Fox (and I didn't put quotes on "refrigerator" intentionally, grammar nerds...in my book that's his middle "fucking" name). On top of that, though he didn't receive much publicity for it, he quietly blew all of his money funding one side of a civil war. Oops! In one international game, he had one of the most incredible lines ever: 32 points, 29 rebounds, and 31 blocks. That is correct. You don't believe me? Let's go to video. Spud Webb once kinda sorta dunked on him. He's also the reason Luol Deng started playing basketball, and once killed a lion with a spear (the lion was sleeping). Oh, and he played minor league hockey after his basketball career (see picture).
Then we have the guys everyone knows, Sean Bradley(7'6") and Gheorghe Muresan(7'7"). If you're anywhere near my age these guys were both fascinating in their sheer oddness within the league, something Shawn Bradley added to with embarrassment and Gheorghe with an acting career. (Full details here: note the Eminem movie he was in)
There are more unheralded guys that people forget about. For purposes of omitting players I hate, Arvydas Sabonis and Rik Smits, who were little girls compared to these guys, are not included. (Though young Arvydas was a Lithuanian gangster. Bet you didn't know he tore a rim off.)
Artis Gilmore (7'7" with afro) is someone a lot of people forget about, but he was a giant. Take a look at the picture and it's easy to see why he has the all-time field goal percentage record. He went to the NBA championship playing for Jacksonville. Jacksonville!
If you have ever read Hakeem the Dream's biography, you know that Ralph Sampson (7'4") is a great guy, who took the Houston Rockets to the finals in his second year with Hakeem. He was on the cover of SI twice that year, and all you folks that think Hakeem was the main reason, you're wrong (though he was probably a huge part). Hakeem still wasn't that great in the early eighties, and Ralph was the man (outscoring and outrebounding Hakeem the year they beat the Magic Lakers and went to the finals). His tip in to get the Rockets past the Lakers? Magnificent. If you're not going to see any of the other videos, watch that one. (Or this one.)
Finally, Tommy Burleson was a 7'4" guy who won NC State a national championship, and then lost in the famous game where Communists screwed the US out of a gold medal. And if you think I'm just being overly expressive or something, check the history. US team members have, to this date, refused to accept their silver metals because those ruskie commies bought out the officials like a bunch of dirty whores. The details of the game are so enraging that I'd rather not discuss them in the same column where I utter Bill Walton's name. I'll touch on it on a later date.
In Tommy B's national championship game, he took on that dork hippie named Bill Walton, who has such a great personality and MVP skills, blah blah blah. Tommy B beat his ass. It probably helped that David Thompson was on his team, but whatever. It's funny because, looking back, it seems like Tommy is the smart, communicative center who might have a career in broadcasting. Walton sucks and gets blocked by David Thompson.
So those are some Giants of the NBA. I hope you liked it. As always, email me at:
Posted by Jimmy at 8:57 AM