Horace Grant

Taken with the 10th pick of the 1987 NBA Draft, by the Chicago Bulls; Horace Grant was a workhorse from the moment he entered the NBA. His Rookie year saw him average 7.7 points and 5.5 rebounds a game.

One thing was very clear about the way Horace Grant played and that was his tenacity. Known for his iconic look of wearing the goggles! Grant would become a pivotal player for the Chicago Bulls and would become the grunt man who would help Jordan, Pippen & Co win 3-straight titles from 91-93. Horace Grant would have some sensational years during the 3-peat, however his best year statistically wise came the year after Jordan retired for the first time. Grant put up numbers of 15.1 points and 11 rebounds which earn him his only All-Star selection in 1994.

The next phase in Horace Grant’s career came in when he signed with the Orlando Magic for the 1995 season. The young Magic team that had Shaquille O’Neal and Penny Hardaway made it all the way to the NBA finals, but were swept by the Houston Rockets. Grant did more of the same with his time in Orlando and by that I mean continuing to be a beast that rebounded just about anything that came his way. Grant spent some time in Seattle before heading to the LA Lakers in 2001. Here he would win his 4th ring to cap off what was a tremendous career. Horace Grant is a true icon of the game.

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Mitch Richmond

Taken with the 5th pick of the 1988 NBA Draft, by the Golden State Warriors, Mitch Richmond had an incredibly consistent NBA career. With a sensational Rookie season, Richmond averaged 23.1 points, 6.2 rebounds and 4.4 assists which would earn him Rookie Of The Year honours. Most players would kill to put up those kind of numbers at least once in their career, yet alone their first season in the NBA.

His next two seasons in Golden State, Richmond continued to be a solid performer averaging over 22 points a game. Richmond was a part of the trio dubbed ‘RUN TMC’ along side Chris Mullin and Tim Hardaway who brought flat out excitement to the Bay Area over the course of their 3 years together. In somewhat of a shock move Richmond was traded to the Sacramento Kings in 1991 after just 3 seasons at the Warriors, it would be a great move for the Kings who had just landed a legitimate superstar.

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Richmond spent 7 seasons at the Kings, incredibly averaging over 20 points a game each of them. He would become a 6 x All-Star while playing in Sacramento and is arguably one of their all time greatest players. His best season scoring wise came in 1997, when he averaged 25.9 points a game. Richmond averaged over 20 points a game in his in his first 10 seasons in the NBA, a feat that not many can say they have achieved. Richmond was traded to Washington in 1998, he would spend 3 seasons there before playing his final year in the NBA for the Los Angeles Lakers. As a veteran, fittingly he would win a title there in his last season. Mitch Richmond is a true icon of the game and one of the most constant scorers you’d ever hope to see.

Fun Facts

Richmond wore the numbers #23, #22 and #9 over his NBA career.

Richmond was inducted into the Hall Of Fame in 2014.

Luc Longley

Taken with the 7th pick of the 1991 NBA Draft, by the Minnesota Timberwolves, Luc Longley stood at 7 foot 2 from the shores of Australia. His Rookie season saw him average 4.3 points and 3.9 rebounds a game. His first 3 seasons in the league were a little underwhelming whilst playing for the Timberwolves, however in a trade to the Chicago Bulls in 1994 would change his career for ever.

Australia’s most famous big man is largely considered to be Andrew Bogut, who was a number 1 Draft Pick. Longley however, was a pioneer for Australian basketball and a massive part of the Bulls second 3-peat. Longley was the pivotal big man that Jordan and his Bulls required averaging 9.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.4 blocks a game for the Bulls 95-96 Championship season. The next Championship year 96-97, he almost put up identical numbers. His best season would come when the Bulls completed the 3-peat in 97-98, when he averaged an impressive 11.4 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.1 blocks a game.

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Before Longley’s career finished he spend some time with the Phoenix Suns and New York Nicks, but ultimately nothing could top winning a 3-peat of Championships and playing along side the great Michael Jordan. Longley was a great story for Australian basketball and a durable big man of the NBA.

Fun Facts

Longley wore the number #13 his whole career in the NBA.

Longley is a member of the Australian Basketball Hall Of Fame.

Stacey Augmon

Taken with the 9th pick of the 1991 NBA Draft by the Atlanta Hawks, Stacey Augmon, had a very nice Rookie season, playing all 82 games averaging 13.3 points and 5.1 rebounds a game, which earned him first team All-Rookie honours. He was given the nickname ‘Plastic Man’ due to his athletic ability to stretch and dunk on people. I remember the ‘Plastic Man’ featuring regularly in the ‘Top 10, NBA Court-side Countdown’ of the early 90s.

Have a look at the ‘Plastic Man’s’ highlights below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=advAxdbCdRU

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In his second year, Augmon lifted his scoring averages to 14 points per game, and provided a march needed spark and assistance to the Dominique led Atlanta Hawks. His career best year occurred in 1994, with a stat line of 14.8 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.8 steals. Augmon provided plenty at athletic highlights during his time in Atlanta, however his time there would come to an end after 5 seasons, when he was traded to the Detroit Pistons at the beginning of the 1996-97 season, and he was again traded mid-season to Portland.

From that moment on, Augmon would never see anywhere near the minutes he got in Atlanta which directly resulted in his numbers dropping significantly. To give you an idea he went from averaging 12.7 points per game in his last season with Atlanta to 4.7 points at his new destination. His stats would never recover from that moment on as Augmon was resigned to playing minimal minutes for the rest of his career. He spent some time playing for the Hornets and then the Magic before he retired in 2006. With all that being said, Augmon still had a good 5 seasons at Atlanta, providing many highlights for Hawks fans and early 90s NBA fans alike.

Fun Facts

Augmon wore the number #2 throughout his whole NBA career.

Augmon was a participant in the 1992 Slam Dunk Contest.

LaPhonso Ellis

Drafted with the 5th pick of the 1992 NBA Draft, by the Denver Nuggets. LaPhonso Ellis had a solid Rookie season averaging 14.7 points and 9.1 rebounds per game, which earned him a spot on the 1992–93 All-Rookie first team. His stocks would rise as in his second season he put up impressive numbers of 15.4 points and 8.6 rebounds. It appeared that the Nuggets had found a player who they could build a team around for the future.

Cruelly in his 3rd season Ellis was struck down with injury and only managed 6 games. He would play a total of 6 seasons at the Denver Nuggets, with his most impressive season coming in 96-97 averaging 21.9 points and 7 rebounds a game. Ellis certainly made some shock waves at Denver, forming a good combination with Dikembe Mutombo, that helped the Nuggets experience some playoff success.

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Ellis would be traded to the Atlanta Hawks for the 1999 NBA season. His first year there his stats dropped considerably, scoring 10.2 points and 5.5 rebounds a game. Unfortunately Ellis could never rediscover the form that had him touted as an exciting prospect in his early years at the Denver Nuggets. His last few seasons saw him play for the Timberwolves and Heat before he retired in 2003. Ellis finished with career stats of 11.9 points and 6.5 rebounds a game. The career of LaPhonso Ellis certainly had some great early years in Denver, I remember his hype as he entered the league, he even found himself on the classic arcade game ‘NBA Jam’ as a player option along side Mutombo. Ultimately perhaps injuries contributed to his career falling away, but either way Ellis had some good solid years in the NBA.

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Fun Facts:

Ellis wore the numbers #20 and #3 during his career.

Manute Bol

If you can touch an NBA basketball ring without jumping, then I’d say it’s your destiny to play basketball. A man by the name Manute Bol could do just that. Drafted with the 31st pick of the 1985 NBA Draft, by the Washington Bullets, Bol stood at an incredible 7 ft 7 and weight just 90 kg, which is very light considering someone of that height. His Rookie year saw him with stats of 3.7 points, 6 rebounds and an incredible 5 blocks per game. Bol set what is still tied for an NBA record of 12 blocks in a single game during the 1985 season.

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Click on the link below to see Bol’s incredible block sequence:

Bol’s 4 blocks in a row

Bol spent 3 seasons at the Bullets, before being traded to the Golden State Warriors in 1988. He spent 2 years at the Warriors, not really setting the world on fire with his numbers, however he did begin to discover he had a 3-point shot in his arsenal ‘If you could call it that’. He took an astonishing 91, 3-pointers in during the 1989 season, making 20 of them. Bol’s next destination was the Philadelphia 76ers, where Bol would spend a further 2 and a half seasons. His numbers declined even more, which started to spell the end for the giant Manute. He did however have one of the more iconic performances a 7 ft 7 man can have, shooting an amazing 6-12 from 3-point land in a half against the Phoenix Suns.

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Click on the link to see Bol’s iconic shooting performance:

Bol’s six 3-pointers

In Bol’s last four seasons in the NBA he went to Miami, Washington, Philadelphia and back to Golden State, totalling just 19 games. The career of Manute Bol had come to an end, but he is simply one of the most iconic and unique players the NBA has ever seen.

Fun Facts:

At 7 ft 7, Bol sits equal top for the tallest ever NBA player.

Bol wore the numbers: #10, #11, #4 and #1 during his career.

Clarence Weatherspoon

This guy entered the league with such an impact, that it earned him the nickname ‘Baby Barkley’ which in hindsight, sounds ridiculous, but at the time there was good reason for the comparison; here’s why. Clarence Weatherspoon was taken with the 9th pick of the 1992 NBA Draft, by the Philadelphia 76ers. His Rookie season saw him average 15.6 points and 7.2 rebounds a game, which had the Sixers fans in nostalgia due to the ferocity in which Weatherspoon played the game reminded some of the great ‘Sir Charles’.

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His second season was even better lifting his averages to 18.4 points,10.1 rebounds and 1.4 blocks a game. Those numbers are elite during any era of basketball, and for Weatherspoon his stocks were rising fast! Those numbers would end up being his career highs. The next season Weatherspoon kept up his scoring average of around 18 points per game, but his rebounding numbers dropped. There was a problem whilst all this hype around him was going on, the Sixers were continuing to have very bad seasons.

Check out Weatherspoon’s highlights below:

Weatherspoon ‘Baby Barkley’ highlights

Tons of roster changes meant a lot of change for Weatherspoon, and he couldn’t quite find the continuity he had in his early days. His 4th season again saw him put up nice numbers with 16.7 points, 9.7 rebounds and 1.4 blocks a game, which is more than handy, but unfortunately for Weatherspoon things were about to come crumbling down fast. Weatherspoon’s career would never rise again from that moment, his scoring average dropped dramatically over the next two seasons in Philly, which led to him being treated to the Golden State Warriors mid season in 1998.

From that moment on Weatherspoon would spend time at the following teams: Warriors, Heat, Cavs, Knicks and Rockets. Not once did his numbers even remotely resemble those of his 2nd year which put the league on notice. It was a fair fall from grace for Weatherspoon, who showed so much promise at the beginning of his career. As a big 90s basketball fan, I still vividly remember the hype sounding Clarence Weatherspoon from basketball card collectors wanting his Rookie Card. I will say this however, Weatherspoon still delivered some great games in the NBA, he was a double-double machine in his early years and certainly deserves remembrance as an iconic NBA player, not only that I’m adding him to my top 5 coolest NBA names list which features the following thus far: Mookie Blaylock, Kerry Kittles and now Clarence Weatherspoon.

Fun Facts:

Weatherspoon finished 2nd in the 1993 Slam Dunk Contest to Harold Miner.

Weatherspoon wore two numbers in his career: #30 and #35.