Remembering the New Basketball

new-basketballThis year, the New Basketball would have turned ten years old, had it stuck around for more than about three months. For those who don’t remember, in 2006, the NBA made the bizarre decision to abandon the world of leather basketballs for a new-age synthetic model, which they insisted would bounce more predictably, and make shooting easier.

The experiment was short-lived. The players, in near unanimity, hated the New Basketball. Many reported that handling it produced cuts on their fingertips, and the union filed a grievance, stating that the players had no input on the New Basketball before it was rolled out. The league backed down in December, and on January 1, 2017, the league switched back to Old Basketball, and never looked back. New Basketball, much like New Coke and Wally Backman’s tenure as manager of the Diamondbacks, was never meant to be.

Even the players who hated New Basketball, though, had to admit: It was pretty cool-looking.


Kris Jenkins Celebrates Game-Winning Shot


Wow, I can’t believe former Pro Bowl defensive tackle Kris Jenkins enrolled at Villanova University, joined the basketball team as a forward, and finished his senior year by hitting the game-winning shot in the National Championship Game. From blocking field goals and stuffing runs, to a magical run for college basketball’s biggest prize.

Anything really is possible!


Bring Back the Fullback: Fred McCrary

  • mccraryToday we’re starting a new series here at OA, because the critically endangered pro fullback position is one or two ACL injuries from existing only in captivity.
  • Since he took over the Patriots, Bill Belichick has been a coach who loves fullbacks– from Marc Edwards to Patrick Pass and Larry Centers (More on all these guys at some point) to my personal favorite, Fred McCrary, great Patriot teams of the past fifteen years have often featured versatile fullbacks.
  • McCrary played at various times between 1995 and 2007, but that included a one-year stint as a prison guard. The fullback was one of the best in the game in terms of blocking, but was never well-known for his running and receiving skill: In parts of eleven different seasons, McCrary averaged just 1.2 yards per carry on 25 attempts. He rushed for one career touchdown, as a rookie in 1995.
  • He was slightly more prolific as a  pass-catcher, snagging 113 balls for 646 cumulative yards. He appeared in 6 games in 2003, earning a ring for the champion Patriots, before moving on to Atlanta and subsequently Seattle. There he played his final game in 2007, and mostly appeared as a special teamer. McCrary was one of the toughest guys in the game for over a decade, and he typifies the lunch-pail fullback that came to define the later part of the 90’s and early aughts.

Season 2, Ep 3 of the OA Podcast Has Landed


Great news everyone: Soon the Obscure Athletes Podcast, pending review of course, will be available via ITunes. In the meantime, you can find the third episode of this season of the podcast:

HERE. This is the third episode of season 2.

This episode, we’re talking Dante Bichette’s birthday, backup quarterbacks making starts, and a Rich Hill comeback with the A’s. Enjoy and we’ll talk to you soon.


Chucky Brown: A Well-Respected (And Traveled) Man

chuckybrownChucky Brown is tied with three other players, for a great NBA record: in parts of 13 seasons, between 1989 and 2002, Brown played for twelve different teams. I’ll remember his team-hopping fondly. If anyone out there knows how I can get in touch with Brown, I’d love to talk to him for an episode of the Obscure Athletes Podcast some day.

The groundwork for Brown’s movement was laid years before the Cavs selected him in the second round of the 1989 draft. The pick with which Cleveland eventually selected Brown was traded a remarkable five times between 1986 and 1987. Try and follow this now:

From Basketball-Reference:

October 23, 1986: Traded by the Chicago Bulls (as a future 1989 2nd round draft pick) to the Houston Rockets for Granville Waiters.
December 9, 1986: Traded by the Houston Rockets (as a future 1989 2nd round draft pick) to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Dirk Minniefield.
January 16, 1987: Traded by the Houston Rockets (as a future 1989 2nd round draft pick) with a 1987 1st round draft pick (Joe Wolf was later selected) to the Los Angeles Clippers for Cedric Maxwell.
February 11, 1987: Traded by the Los Angeles Clippers (as a future 1989 2nd round draft pick) to the Chicago Bulls for Earl Cureton.
February 15, 1987: Traded by the Chicago Bulls (as a future 1989 2nd round draft pick) to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Ben Poquette.
June 27, 1989: Drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2nd round (43rd pick) of the 1989 NBA Draft.

During his career, Brown would be traded twice more–once to the Suns in a deal involving Charles Barkley. Chucky never appeared in  more than four seasons for a single team, and played fewer than 20 games with four of his twelve teams.

Brown won the NBA Championship with the “Clutch City” Rockets in 1994-95. That year he signed on as a free agent mid-season after winning a championship in the Continental Basketball Association with the Yakima Sun Kings. His greatest championship season moment came in the Western Conference semifinals, when Brown filled in for the ill Clyde Drexler, and scored 15 points and grabbed 8 rebounds, leading the Rockets to a game 5 victory over the Suns.

The following year was Brown’s best in the NBA: Returning to Houston, Brown moved from the 3 position to power forward, and the switch worked. Brown started all 82 games for the Rockets, and averaged a career-high 8.6 points per game. He posted career highs in minutes played, points scored, assists, rebounds, steals, and blocks.

Chucky last played in 2002 for the Kings, and enjoyed a lengthy career despite his constant moves. Since his playing days ended he has been a coach for multiple NBA D-League teams.