Basketball connoisseurs, think you know everything about the game of basketball? Guess again! Today we’re going to talk about some of the fun facts and stats that you didn’t know about pro basketball. From “bankrupt ballers” to players storing their mouthguards in strange areas, professional basketball has seen it all. So, let’s get right into it!
Short Guys Can Ball, Too
At just 5 feet 3 inches, Muggsy Bogues made it to the big league and gathered quite a following. As the smallest player to ever play in the professional league, Muggsy made a name for himself as a great ball handler, a defensive threat and a playmaker. He wasn’t known for his scoring though. Throughout a 14-year career in the pros, he managed just 3 seasons with a double-digit scoring average. Regardless of his scoring, Muggsy is living proof that even shorter guys with “hoop dreams” can make it to the pros!
Weird Mouthguard Storage Habits
It seems like most professional basketball players can’t figure out where to put their mouthguard when they’re on the bench. Mason Plumlee of the Brooklyn Nets stores his on the inside of his sock, which he admits probably isn’t the most sanitary spot. Rajon Rondo of the Dallas Mavericks has been seen spitting his mouthguard into his jersey. Finally, Cole Aldrich of the New York Knicks takes his and wraps it around his ear. Let’s take a wild guess that none of these guys know what an antimicrobial case is.
Basketball Game Turned Marathon
The longest professional basketball game lasted 78 minutes after a record 6 overtimes. A regular game generally lasts 48 minutes; so, this was more like a gauntlet! The game took place on January 6, 1951, between the Indianapolis Olympians and the Rochester Royals. For being such a long game, it was a very low-scoring one, ending at 75-73 in favor of the Olympians. After that season ended, the league added the 24-second shot clock to encourage more scoring and push the pace of the games.
Don’t Foul Jose Calderon
Jose Calderon is the reason they call the free throw line the “charity stripe.” This guy made a staggering 98.1% of his free throw attempts during the ’08-’09 season. He sunk a whopping 151 shots and missed just 3 attempts.
The Fastest Disqualification in Pro Basketball History
In a December 29, 1997 game against the Chicago Bulls, Bubba Wells of the Dallas Mavericks managed to foul out of the game in just 3 minutes. His efforts earned him a spot as the player with the quickest disqualification due to fouls in a regular season game. His disqualification was part of a strategy designed by his coach to limit the Chicago Bulls’ offense. He was instructed to foul Dennis Rodman, a player known for his poor free throw shooting ability and put him on the free throw line as much as possible. Out of all the records you can set in pro basketball, I am not sure that you would want to have this one. But hey, even bad publicity is good publicity, I guess?
Don’t Mess With Shaq
At 7 feet tall and over 300 pounds, Shaquille O’Neal is an imposing figure and was a very dominant center in professional basketball. But did you know that he also trains in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu? Yep, that’s right. He’s got more than just “Shaq Fu” under his belt. You can find footage of him training with mixed martial artists like Nate Diaz and even Royce Gracie.
Wilt Chamberlain Scored 100 Points in a Single Game
Wilt “The Stilt” Chamberlain was one of the most dominant and high-scoring players in the game. The Philadelphia Warriors squared off against the New York Knicks in Hershey Sports Arena on March 2, 1962. During that game, Wilt logged an explosive performance that would result in the record for the highest amount of points scored by a player in a single game. The Warriors triumphed over the Knicks in a 169 to 147 win.
Carmelo Anthony Was Cut From His High School Team
Yes, we’re talking about the same Carmelo Anthony. One of the top scoring leaders in professional basketball, he’s been an All-Star for multiple seasons and coaches build teams around a player like him. He didn’t have the same success throughout high school though. His high school coach thought he was a little too “vertically-challenged” to play on the team. After a growth spurt, he transferred to Oak Hill Academy and became well known as a solid player.
Derrick Fisher’s Unimpressive Performance
We all like to talk about record-breaking performances and amazing displays of athleticism and skill, but let’s talk about Derrick Fisher in his game with the Lakers at the Rockets for a moment. Derrick Fisher spent 35 of 48 minutes on the court and managed to do just about nothing–which some people can say is an impressive feat in itself, considering that these are professionals. Derrick recorded 0 points, 0 assists and 0 rebounds throughout the game. His redemption came towards the end of the game where he logged one steal that allowed the Lakers to run out the clock on the Rockets and edge out the victory.
The Origin of Karl Malone’s Nickname
Ever wonder where Karl Malone earned the nickname “The Mailman?” The name was given to him in college by a sportswriter covering his alma mater, Louisiana Tech, for delivering match-winning performances. Malone continued to live up to his name during his 19-year professional career. Karl Malone made it to the playoffs during every season of his career and averaged an impressive 25 points-per-game throughout his career. He will go down as one of the greatest players in professional basketball.
Michael Jordan Didn’t Make His Varsity Team
The man who is arguably the greatest basketball player of all time did not make his varsity team as a sophomore at Emsley A. Laney High School. He was among a group of 50 students who tried out. At the time, he was 5’10” and could not dunk a basketball. The team needed the height which he lacked and Jordan did not make the cut.
He admits that he went home, locked himself in his room and he cried. With something to prove, he played his heart out that year on the Junior Varsity team and put in multiple 40-point games while drawing large crowds which were irregular for JV games. The next year, Jordan would make Varsity and easily become the best player on the team. If this man’s story doesn’t inspire you, I’m not sure what will!
The Bankrupt Baller
We’ve all heard stories about celebrities or star athletes who find themselves in financial trouble once or twice. For New York Knicks’ Center Eddy Curry, financial trouble was a lifestyle. He spent $17,000 monthly in rent and routinely spent about $30,000 on “household expenses.” Aside from his own expenses, he put his parents and siblings on a $16,000 monthly allowance. To add to the financial mismanagement, Eddy took out a $570,000 loan at a whopping 85% interest rate!
The Shot Clock Changed Professional Basketball Forever
Before the inclusion of the 24-second shot clock in professional basketball, the pace of the game was much slower. If a team had built up a substantial lead early on in the game, they would basically hold the ball hostage in an attempt to run down the clock and secure the victory. The opposing team had few options other than to force a turnover by committing a foul.
During the early 1950s, professional basketball had been recently introduced and had not yet established a following. Basketball games were all about taking the lead and then holding onto the ball for as long as possible, which became very dull to the fans. To pick up the pace and create a more exciting sport, the shot clock was introduced and had immediate results, with each team scoring an average of 14 more points per game.
Clifford Ray Saved a Dolphin
Clifford Ray was instrumental to the Golden State Warriors’ Championship victory in 1975, but perhaps his greatest feat was accomplished when he saved a dolphin’s life. In April of 1978, Ray received a call from the nearby aquarium Marine World in Redwood City. One of their main attractions, Dr. Spock, had swallowed a large metal bolt.
Veterinarians didn’t want to risk surgery and had asked Ray to put his 45-inch arm to good use by reaching inside the dolphin’s stomach and grabbing the bolt. Clifford was actually able to grab the bolt on the first attempt. Meanwhile, the dolphin remained calm and seemed to be aware of his kind gesture. “Whenever I would go to the park, he would always come up and acknowledge that I was there,” Ray recounted. Although Clifford Ray had a long and successful career in professional basketball as both a player and a coach, he considers saving a dolphin his biggest claim to fame.
Over 70% of Pro Basketball Players Wear a Mouthguard
In a league with “scrappy” players like Ron Artest (now ironically named Metta World Peace), Dennis Rodman and Shaquille O’Neal, some professional basketball games start to look more like a boxing match. More pros are starting to wear mouthguards every day, and for good reason! While a good mouthguard may run you a hundred bucks, broken teeth can cost you thousands! Financial costs aside, the myths that mouthguards affect cardiovascular performance have been debunked. With the risks of catching an elbow during rebounding or being boxed out and the occasional flagrant foul, it’s no wonder that the pros are switching to mouthguards.
Dallas Mavericks Owner’s Chilling Proposition
Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, had some pretty harsh criticism for the manager of the professional basketball league officials. Cuban mentioned that he wouldn’t have even hired Ed Rush to run a Dairy Queen, much less the league. Dairy Queen took offense to these comments and invited Mark Cuban to run one of their stores for a day. Mark accepted the challenge, worked a shift as a manager at Dairy Queen and gained a new appreciation for what they do. This would have been a happy ending had the league not assessed Cuban with a $500,000 fine for his comment…yikes!