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Why this is interesting to me

February 6, 2013

david thompson

*Photo courtesy of SI Vault

I’ll be honest, I have a lot of basketball games on tape (NBA and college).  I used a lot of VHS tapes in the last 15 years or so and have been getting games from ESPN Classic, NBATV, Big Ten Network, Youtube, or taping them live.

I like to follow them in chronological order, like right now I am in the middle of watching the 1983 NBA All-Star Game in LA (Marvin Gaye famously singing the national anthem a little over a year before his death), and the biggest thing I notice other then it being a fast-paced, high-scoring 80’s game (or just a typical post-1976 All-Star Game) is the fact that David Thompson’s vertical (listed 44 inches) seems to have at least 10 inches off of it (when he dunks he looks like he’s barely getting over the rim, better then if I tried to dunk, but still…) plus he seems to be laboring while he’s running.

The announcers (Dick Stockton and Bill Russell for CBS) are commenting on his knee, which is wrapped and injured knees do have a lot to do with not being able to jump as high or run as fast, but if you’ve seen 70’s games with David Thompson (either at North Carolina State or with the Denver Nuggets) it is quite different to see him like this.  In his heyday, Thompson is always high-flying and jumping over people for dunks or rebounds (he averaged 6.3 rebounds per game in his rookie year in 1976 in the ABA and he’s 6’4″ ..granted the ABA was faster-paced and had more attempted shots but still!).

This.. uhh.. skill of jumping high and dunking over people does go away with age and injuries (look at Dwyane Wade) but Thompson is 28 at the time of this All-Star Game and would play in 75 games that year.

This is the first and only game (at the moment) that I have of Thompson post-1979.  He only played 39 games in 1980 plus his play overall fell off starting with the 1979 season after he signed a $4 million/5-year deal (minus a bit of an ascension in the 1981 season covered a bit in this SI article in which he averaged 25.5 points per game) and after developing a bit of a drug problem (I know, I know it took me this long to get to his drug problem… now let’s see how long it takes for me to get to Studio 54, if I ever get there).

Anyway, back to why this whole thing is interesting to me.  I’m a 6’3″ 24-year-old white guy who grew up loving basketball among other sports, and I feel like I could talk about it endlessly.

I have games and footage from the very the best that the NBA had to offer to the very worst that the NBA had to offer (I’m a big Bulls fan and I have 10 Bulls games between the start of the 1999 season and the end of the 2004 season… hey, what can I say? I was young, dumb, and in love.. we’ve all been there… and hey! they won 5 of those 10 games! and two were against the Lakers! … and no I don’t have the Shaq whiff-punch of Brad Miller game, I have the second matchup between the Bulls and Lakers that season in which Shaq wasn’t playing, the charged-up Los Angeles crowd was soundly booing Miller, the Bulls controlled the game and won, and Miller would be traded along with Ron ‘I haven’t done anything totally crazy yet! you would be drinking Hennessy if you were playing on this team!’ Artest, Kevin Ollie and Ron Mercer to Indiana for Jalen Rose, Travis Best, the immortal Norm Richardson, and the draft pick that would turn into Lonny Baxter).

I do have a college degree (a Bachelor’s in Communications – Media & Journalism from the University of Hartford), and am getting into sports broadcasting.


From → NBA

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