Adrian Dantley’s Inferno, 1992
From Way Downtown Blog
by bobkuska
13h ago
[While working on a recent post about pro basketball in Europe, I happened upon this fantastic article from the equally fantastic Mitch Albom. In 1992, Albom took a trip to Italy to look up some former Detroit Piston greats, including Adrian Dantley and Rick Mahorn. Both, at the end of their basketball careers, made lucrative last stands playing in Italy. Here’s what Albom found on his self-described Arrivederci Adventure. His first story, which drops in on Dantley, ran on March 9, 1992 in the Detroit Free-Press. If you like this story, the Mahorn piece’s got next.] **** Today’s Italian lesson ..read more
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Pete Maravich: A Thin Line Between Love and Hate, 1972
From Way Downtown Blog
by bobkuska
3d ago
[Here’s an article about Pete Maravich during his early days with the Atlanta Hawks. What makes this article so special is its byline: the New York Post’s sports columnist Milton Gross, one of the all-time greats. “When you run with the pack,” Gross said of sports reporting, “you read like the pack. I run alone.” In this longer-form feature story, published in the March 1972 issue of the magazine Sports Scene, Gross gets to run alone a little longer and look a little deeper into Pistol Pete, entering his second NBA season. More than 40 years later, Gross’ longer look remains a good read. In Ma ..read more
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European Pro Basketball Back in the Day, 1993
From Way Downtown Blog
by bobkuska
3d ago
[By the mid-1980s, basketball was on the rise in Greece. The national team reached the European Cup for the first time in 1985, and the top Greek club teams were now bidding for NBA players to bolster their lineups. But in Greece, like the rest of Europe, pro basketball remained undercapitalized and underdeveloped. “You never know whether you’ll get paid or not,” lamented an American playing in Athens. “You’ve always got problems with the team.” In the February 1993 issue of SPORT Magazine, freelancer Doug Cress recounted “the nightmares” endured by Americans playing pro in Greece and througho ..read more
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Danny Vranes: To Fit or Not to Fit, 1980s
From Way Downtown Blog
by bobkuska
5d ago
[NBA coaches often talk about how critical it is for young players to find the right team with the right fit for their talents. It’s so true today, and it’s been so true since the days of Joe Fulks, Bill Russell . . . and, well, Danny Vranes.  Vranes, heading into the 1981 NBA Draft, was considered a top small forward prospect based on his stellar four-year career at the University of Utah. The scouting report on Vranes was straightforward: “exceptional shooter [though with limited range]  . . . “exceptional quickness, good leaping ability, but needs work on defense and ballhand ..read more
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Otis Thorpe: Pure Power, 1995
From Way Downtown Blog
by bobkuska
1w ago
[The other day, I started flipping through the April 1995 issue of the magazine Rip City in pursuit of something or other. Along the way, I noticed an article about Otis Thorpe, the now-former NBA great. I’m a sucker for a good lead, and this one reeled me in fast for this nicely done profile of Thorpe, a rock-solid performer with Kansas City/Sacramento, Houston, briefly Portland, and then a scattershot of other NBA teams until his retirement in 2001. But what really caught my eye was the byline: Fran Blinebury. He’s now one of my favorites, and I pass along this rare Blinebury gem about this ..read more
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Bill Cartwright: Is He Mean Enough to Make It Big? 1980 
From Way Downtown Blog
by bobkuska
2w ago
[Bill Cartwright is best remembered as the highly skilled, though at-times awkward, seven-footer on the championship Chicago Bulls teams of the early 1990s. Cartwright led with his elbows and, at times, rebounded like a wrecking ball inside. His declining athleticism, a product of age, big frame, and an almost career-ending foot injury, still gets debated. His toughness?  Almost never.  Wind the clock back to 1980—following “Mr. Bill’s” impressive rookie season with the New York Knicks—and the talk was ALL about Cartwright’s toughness or lack thereof. Keep winding back to Cartwr ..read more
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Michael Brooks: Tough Franchise, Tough Luck, 1982, 1988
From Way Downtown Blog
by bobkuska
3w ago
[In his 2016 book The Curse: The Colorful & Chaotic History of the LA Clippers, author Mick Minas chronicled the ups and mostly downs of this seemingly ill-fated NBA franchise over more than three decades. There’s plenty to tell, and Minas does so through more than 500 pages. Yet, the text makes no mention of Michael Brooks.  Michael who? In 1980, Brooks, the All-American forward from LaSalle, was the team’s top draft choice (ninth overall) and, from all indications, a major piece in the Clipper rebuild. Brooks, in NBA-speak, was “a warrior,” a versatile, high-energy stud who could ba ..read more
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Dominique Wilkins: Being the Human Highlight Film, 1992
From Way Downtown Blog
by bobkuska
3w ago
[When Street & Smith’s started publishing a separate pro basketball yearbook in the late 1980s, Houston Chronicle reporter Fran Blinebury joined the editorial team with his annual profiles of some of the NBA’s top players. I’ve already run several of them on the blog, mainly to credit to Blinebury. He’s a fantastic sportswriter with great tone, knowledge, and a keen eye for detail.  What follows is Blinebury at his 1,200 words-or-less best from the 1991-1992 Street & Smith’s Pro Basketball annual. Blinebury profiles the veteran Dominique Wilkins as his Human Highlight Film approac ..read more
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Dick and Tom Van Arsdale: Two of a Kind, 1971
From Way Downtown Blog
by bobkuska
3w ago
[Memories can be funny, but I recall as a kid flipping through basketball magazines and reading many a feature story about the Van Arsdale brothers, Dick and Tom. They were identical twins who dittoed through the NBA from 1965 to 1977. And yet, in my fairly substantial collection of old basketball magazines, what follows is the first Van Arsdale twin story that I’ve come across. This one, which starts with a bar story, ran in the April 1971 issue of the magazine Sports Today. At the keyboard is Associated Press reporter Mike Recht, who would later work briefly for the ABA Spirits of St. Louis ..read more
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Brooklyn’s Finest: Bernard and Albert King, 1984
From Way Downtown Blog
by bobkuska
1M ago
[Open a copy of Bernard King’s 2017 autobiography Game Face, and the dust jacket informs you that King is a Hall of Famer, “one of the most dynamic scorers in basketball history,” a very private person, and somebody who overcame myriad personal and physical challenges. All true.  What about his younger brother Albert? No mention in the dust jacket, and Albert factors into just one of the book’s roughly 300 pages. However, had Game Face come out in the 1980s to celebrate Bernard in his high-scoring prime, Albert likely would have factored more prominently into the text. He might have even ..read more
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