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.

Obscure Spotlight: Danny Fortson

dannyfortsonDanny Fortson’s second NBA year was the lockout-shortened 1998-99 season, and it was arguably his best as a pro. That year, as a member of the Nuggets, he led the league in both offensive rebounds and personal fouls. He posted 10.2 points per game, and logged nearly 29 minutes on average.

I’ll always remember him for his hellish year with the Celtics, stuck behind Antoine Walker at the power forward spot. He played 55 games for Boston, with sparse playing time. They tried to trade him to the Raptors in February of that year, but the trade was cancelled after Alvin Williams, who was supposed to come to Boston,  failed his physical that would have completed the deal.

At 6’7”, Fortson was an undersized center/power forward, known for his rebounding and high number of technical fouls. He went to college at the University of Cincinatti and, as Youtube user Ousvec points out, Fortson is the best player not named Oscar Robertson to play basketball at the U of C.

Clearly Ousvec is Fortson’s biggest fan.

He was drafted 10th overall by the Bucks in 1997, but was traded to Denver on Draft Night.  Fortson played parts of ten seasons in the league, but injuries plagued his career throughout. When healthy, Fortson was a force on the defensive end, and a serviceable body off the bench.  For his career, Fortson averaged 8.2 points per game, along with an impressive 7.2 RPG. He was well-traveled, suiting up for five different teams in his day, and was party to four different trades.

His  2004-’05 campaign saw Fortson commit an amazing 23 technical fouls. Even more amazingly, that total placed him just second in the league to the prodigious Rasheed Wallace, who committed 27 that year. He last played in ’06-’07 for the Sonics, and was still under contract when the team moved to Oklahoma City two years later, despite not having played in two years. The team simply relinquished his rights that season. But Obscure Athletes will never relinquish his memory!

 

How have we not talked about Tony Delk yet?

tonydelk

  • Tony Delk is one of the great obscure athletes of the NBA, having enjoyed a 13-year career in the Association. But Delk was a journeyman’s journeyman– he suited up with 8 different teams (Nine if you count the Charlotte Hornets and the New Orleans Hornets).  Delk never played more than two seasons for any one team.
  • Delk, along with several other future obscure NBAers,  was a member of the Kentucky Wildcats team which, in 1996 won the NCAA Tournament. He was named the tournament’s most outstanding player, as the Wildcats took down Jim Boeheim’s Syracuse Orangemen to win it all. He was selected 16th overall by the Charlotte Hornets. He wore the double-zero proudly, except when he played in Boston, because at the time, former college teammate and fellow obscure athlete, Walter McCarty was rocking the 00.
  • Delk was never a regular starter– he never started more than 39 games in a single season, but his ability to play both guard positions made him a solid 6th man. Three times he averaged over 10 points per game, despite never averaging more than 28 minutes. Delk’s finest moment in the NBA came on January 2nd, 2001. Playing for the Suns, Delk scored 53 points in an overtime game against Sacramento, and for just one night, the Kings wish they held onto Delk, who had played for them the year before. Delk’s effort, however, was not enough, and the Suns lost, 121-117. In that game, Delk became the player with the lowest career scoring average (8.0 PPG) ever to score 50.
  • Delk was traded three times in his career, and he moved onto another team through free agency four more times. Eight teams, thirteen years, and one impressive jersey collection. He’s now an assistant coach at New Mexico State Aggies.

The Worst Commissioner in the Western Hemisphere Series: Roger Goodell

The Worst Commissioner in the Western hemisphere is a five-part series detailing the escapades of each of the four major North American sports’ commissioners. The series will culminate in the fifth and final installment where you’ll get to weigh the options and vote for which commissioner takes home the title of “Obscure Athletes Worst Commissioner in the Western Hemisphere.” The inaugural post of this series focuses on football’s head man, Roger Goodell.

Who he is:

Roger Goodell found himself at the helm of the NFL in September of 2006  upon the retirement of a modern football deity, Paul Tagliabue. Goodell climbed the league’s ladder, starting in 1982 as an intern in the league’s office. After filling a variety of roles in Public Relations, and as assistant to then-president of the AFC Lamar Hunt, 2001 saw Commissioner Tagliabue appoint Goodell to the position of league’s Chief Operating Officer. Goodell held that position until the owners eventually voted him commissioner after several ballots. 

C’monn guys, Bettman’s WAY worse than me!

Why he sucks:

During his six-year tenure as commish, Goodell has overseen a league which has locked out its players, nearly causing the loss of regular-season games. Goodell hasn’t done much to remedy his public image as a union-buster. In fact, that reputation grew worse this year when the league, at his behest, locked out the referees over a matter of thousands of dollars, hired scabs to replace those officials, then was forced to cut a deal during week four, after the national embarrassment surrounding a series of wretched officiating performances.

Goodell’s NFL is a mainstay in our court system these days, most notably for his office’s handling of the Saints’ Bounty program scandal, which has seen Saints linebacker Johnathan Vilma appearing extremely well-dressed in court to testify against the league.

“NO COMMENT, HOMIE”

This joins a perpetual bevvy of lawsuits pending against the league, which always seems to include something about player safety and health insurance coverage for retired players. Goodell inherited the most successful sporting league in the history of known civilization, and six years later has managed to land himself in the nomination pile for WORST COMMISSIONER IN THE WESTERN HEMISPHERE.

Up next: NBA Commissioner David “The David” Stern