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The 10 Worst Stiffs Ever in the NBA
Stiff Number 9: Geert Hammink
I want to go on record as saying that in my personal belief, my friend Jim was the first person to ever use the word "Stiff" to accurately describe the men who are discussed on this list. A true Stiff is a man who played at least two seasons in the NBA (with one exception here), is very big (hopefully over seven feet), very slow (and hopefully gangly and awkward), and must have averaged less than 4 points and less than 5 rebounds per game for their careers.
It is an added bonus if the player was taken in the First Round of the NBA Draft. It is a double bonus if a lot of good players were taken after him. Here is the Definitive List.
No. 10 - Chuck Nevitt: The Lord of the Stiffs, some would say. At Seven-Feet Five-Inches tall, Nevitt ranks behind only Manute Bol, Shawn Bradley and Yao Ming on the tallest players of all time list. A testament to his bodybuilding lifestyle, Chuck weighed in at a rock solid 217 pounds. Nevertheless, Nevitt managed to play nine seasons in the NBA, averaging 1.6 ppg, 1.5 rebounds, and dishing out a career total of nineteen assists. Chuck was truly a Stiff among Stiffs.
Number 9 - Geert Hammink: I picked this dude mostly for his name. It rocks. Plus, he is from the Netherlands, and that nation pretty much stands for all that I believe in. Hammink was a Seven Footer out of LSU, where he averaged 15 points and 11 rebounds his senior year while shooting a Bill Walton-like 73% for the season. He weighed in at 265 pounds on Draft Day 1994, and the Orlando Magic just could not resist drafting him, even though they had Shaq, who was already one of the three best big men in the game.
What was the strategy here? What was the thought process? Yes, Hammink had nice numbers as a senior, but he had never shown much before that year. He also had a history of injuries, one of which caused him to miss his entire Junior season. He was also a big slow white guy, which, as we mentioned, are common physical characteristics of the prototypical Stiff.
Did the Magic Brass think he would be the next Shaq? Were they trying to set up a mid-1990's Twin Towers project to rival those 1986 Houston Rockets? It's not like there weren't players available when they drafted the Great Geert. Luscious Harris, Bryon Russell, Nick Van Exel, and even the bigger and dopier Gheorge Mhuresan were all available. It would seem, and maybe I am missing it, that one of the smaller shooters or defensive stars would have been the perfect complementary player to complete that burgeoning Magic team.
But No, the Magic chose to drop the First Round pick on Big Geert. The result: four NBA seasons, 1.8 PPG, 0.9 RPG, and a career total of two assists. Again, think of all the unborn children and long dead souls who almost tied those numbers of this First Round Pick. A Major Stiff.
Number 8 - Cherokee Parks: I know, you are saying "No! This guy wasn't that bad as a pro!" Oh yeah? Look it up. It shocked me. Stifforama. Now, Parks was a very good college player. He was no Christian Laettner, but I sure thought he'd at least be a Danny Ferry. Again, I was way off base.
The reason that Parks does not come to mind as such a stiff is that he played for so long. Like Jack Haley below, Parks was able to grind out nine seasons in the NBA, and he was pretty darn bad in every single one of them.
Let's check him against the Stiff-O-Meter just to be sure:
- Tall? Yup. Seven Feet.
- Slow? Yup. He once lost a foot race to Shirley Hemphill from What's Happening?.
- Bad? Yup. Career averages of 4.4 points and 3.6 rebounds.
Irrefutable Conclusion? Stiff.
Vince Carter Jumping Over Frederic Weis
Number 7 - Frederic Weiss: The Al Gore of High Draft Picks. The Knicks took him with their First Round Pick in 1999. Weiss never even made the team. However, he did become a permanent part of basketball folklore when Vince Carter jumped over him and dunked it in a 2000 USA Basketball International Game against France. Weiss was Seven-Two. Had the camera not yet have been invented, the recollection of Carter's super-human feat would have been debated for centuries.
Here is a Quick Equation To Sum Up That Little Piece of History:
Being 7'2" + Getting Jumped Over By Another Human While Standing Up Straight During a Sporting Event = STIFF.
Number 6 - Priest Lauderdale: I picked this guy because he may have been the Biggest Stiff of All Tme. I don't mean that figuratively, either. Priest was Seven- Feet Four-Inches tall and weighed in at 325 pounds. He was taken in the first Round by the Atlanta Hawks (who apparently have a little bit of the 1990s Cincy Bengals in them when it comes to Draft Day) and spent two years in the NBA. He poured in 3 points and ripped down 2 rebounds per game. If you are that big and you can only put up those numbers, guess what, guy? Yep. You are a Big Stiff.
Mark Madsen doing the Stiff.
Number 5 - Mark Madsen: Probably the most likeable stiff in the bunch. This guy won championships, he played D against Shaq in practice every day for years, worked his ass off to keep his career alive, played six seasons for the Lakers, and survives to this day with the Minnesota Timberwolves. I like him. And although he wasn't seven feet tall, he was six-ten and played Center to spell the Diesel. Additionally, he sports career averages of 2.4 PPG and 2.8 RPG, both well within the boundaries of Stiffdom.
Finally, and most embarrassingly to me as a caucasion, Madsen did that horrendous dance in front of a million Laker fans when they won it all for the first time, further confirming that white men can't dance. Sorry, Mark, I bet you are a great guy, but like Halle Berry's Oscar speech, some things you can never live down. The verdict is in: Mark Madsen is a Stiff
Number 4 - Jack Haley: This guy was one of those Stiffs who stuck around forever. I consider these guys the truly brilliant players in the NBA. I mean, how can you keep a job as a basketball player when you average 3 points and 2 rebounds year after year after year? And there was no spike in production from Jack at any time; no promise of a better thing to come; no year where he averaged 10 points and 7 rebounds, or anything like that. No, this guy was consistently stiff as a board for all nine years. How stiff was he? Let's put it this way: Jack Haley made Peter North look as soft as melted butter.
Number 3 - George Zidek: Another stiff of epic proportions. Drafted in the first round by the Charlotte Hornets, Zidek rode the wave of UCLA's NCAA Tournament win to a number 22 pick in the draft. I remember thinking at the time that he could be a decent part-time backup center. Boy, was I way off the mark on that one.
This guy was so stiff that it seems now, in retrospect, he may have obtained a topical form of Viagra and slathered it over his whole body about 45 minutes before every game. Big, slow, white and stiff. Career Numbers: 3.4 PPG and 2.1 RPG. But he was a good passer for a big man. He dished out 32 assists in three-plus NBA seasons.
* Side Note: When that UCLA team won it all, I honestly though they were going to have at least four players that would have, at a minimum, decent pro careers: Eddie O'Bannon, Charles O'Bannon, Tyus Edney and Zidek. For various reasons, none of them reached my expectations. Was I so way off about this? Did anyone else, at that time I mean, think these guys had a chance?
Number 2 - Alex Radojevic: A Seven Foot-Three Incher out of perrennial powerhouse Barton County Community College. Selected by Toronto in the First Round of the 1999 Draft. Averaged 1.7 points and 2.4 Rebounds per game over a thrilling two year career. GM Glen Grunwald, who ran the Raptors on Draft Day 1999, should be marooned on the Island of Lost Wooden Giants.
No. 1 - Chris Dudley: There has never been a man who set foot as a player in an NBA game with less skill than Chris Dudley. He could not shoot. He could not make an open layup. He couldn't. I will bet you fifty bucks that Dudley could not make ten straight unguarded shots from within five feet of the basket. Either now, or when he was at his peak.
He was the also worst foul shooter in the game's history. Sure there are some guys wth lower percentages, but Dudley shot his free throws as if he didn't even know that the ball was supposed to go through the hoop.
He was also one horrendous defender. His supporters and suitors (of whom there were surprisingly many) always said Chris was a good defender. Well, I watched the Knicks and Nets a lot in my life, so I have had the opportunity to observe Mr. Dudley's defensive prowess.
It goes like this: Knicks-Celtics, late 2nd Quarter. Coach calls an aging Patrick Ewing out to sit the last few minutes of the half to conserve his energy. Dudley comes in. Armageddon ensues. Here's his line: 1 minute, 12 seconds, 0 points, 0 rebounds, 4 fouls, 0-2 from FT line.
Now they gotta bring Patrick back in for the last minute of the half. He is old, cold and aching. Dudley goes back to ride the bench before he inevitably fouls out in the late Third Quarter. Bad, Bad, Bad. Terrible.
But what is so confounding about this guy, and what makes him the biggest stiff of all time is not his 3.3 Career PPG, or his 45% FT Average, or even his ability to collect four fouls in eleven seconds. No, what is so fascinating, and what ultimately propels him to the top of this List is that the worse he got, the more teams wanted him. It is true. The Nets and Portland fought over him like he was Helen of Troy. (The Face That Launched a Thousand Stiffs?). Teams gave him big money, and they gave him long term deals. At one point, Dudley was one of the NBA's highest paid players. My bones creak just at the thought of it. Uh, oh, I am getting infected. I better quit now.
Congrats to Chris and the rest of the boys. You are the Biggest NBA Stiffs of All Time!
James L. Ray (who never even made it to an NBA Game's "good" seats)