While I was in trial, one of my boyhood basketball icons, Randy Smith, died while working out on a treadmill at a casino.
I think it is fair to say that my love of basketball came almost entirely from watching the Buffalo Braves play in the mid-70s. The Braves would from time to time bring in good players like Jim MacMillan, but the team really just had two top-flight NBA players -- Bob McAdoo and Randy Smith.
Smith was an all-American athlete at Division III Buffalo State in both basketball and soccer. Smith would petition the Braves year after year for permission to play in the NASL, only to be denied.
Smith held the NBA record for most consecutive games played, and he still holds that record if you count non-virgin players only. I will always imagine Randy flying down the right side and going in for the slam.....or pulling up from some undetermined distance (no three point line) and jacking up a LONG two-pointer.
If you take a 5-year stretch at the top of his game, Smith had a 5-year average of 20+points, 5+ assists, 5+ rebounds and about 2 steals per game.
While today's game is certainly slower and involves less possessions, I would doubt that there are 3 players in the league this one single year who put up stats in all categories to equal Randy Smith's 5-year averages.
So, to whom in today's game could we compare Randy Smith?
Top 30 player, occasional all-star (once all-star MVP), great defensive guard, languished in a small market for a team who would reach the playoffs but not go far any year.......???????
My best comparisons -- Joe Johnson, Jason Terry, Andre Miller.
And he was a young tween's hero back in the mid-70s. RIP, Randy.