Happy 67th Birthday, NBA!
It's the NBA's 67th birthday, so let's look back at the numbers.
On this day 67 years ago, the upstart Basketball Association of America (BAA) merged with the elder National Basketball League (NBL) to form the 17-team National Basketball Association (NBA), the finest creation on God Shammgod's green Earth.
To celebrate, let's do a little NBA numerology.
No. 67, Jersey: The greatest player to ever wear the No. 67 jersey is—well, officially, nobody. However, combo guard Moe Becker donned it while playing 20 BAA games for the 1946-47 Detroit Falcons. It was the third team, and third jersey number, of his lone season. That's what 3.8 points per game and 0.7 assists gets you, even in the black-and-white footage days.
(Worth noting: Becker was a great collegiate player, an All-American at Duquesne, who led the Dukes to an eighth-place ranking and hit a last-second half-court shot to beat powerhouse Long Island University.)
Point being, there's a golden opportunity for a current NBA benchwarmer to seize the moment and instantly become the greatest No. 67 the NBA has ever known.
No. 67, Ranking: In 2012, Inside Hoops rated Artis Gilmore as the 67th best player in league history. (Last January, ESPN slotted Dwight Howard—hell, no.) To the unfamiliar, Gilmore was the shit. An 11-time All-Star between the ABA—where he was MVP in '72—and the NBA, the 7'2" center dominated defensively and led the NBA in field-goal percentage for four straight years, including a whopping .670 in 1980-81 on 17.9 PPG. He also has an awesome nickname. Let's take a quick spin on the "A-Train," shall we?
The Hall-of-Famer's superlative Afro is a thing of the past, but Artis Gilmore is alive, well, and available for speaking engagements and workshops.
Nos. 6, 7, Retired: If we're throwing a bash for the NBA, we need some guys who could fill it up, right? Party ain't a party without the life of the party.
Cue Dave Zinkoff "University of Massachusetts, No. 6, Julius ERRRRRRRRRRRRving..."
And, of course, the late great Pete Maravich.
(Yes, we realize he's only wearing his Utah Jazz No. 7 in a few clips, but c'mon, it's the Pistol. If it's verisimilitude you require, please enjoy these highlights of Toronto Raptor Andrea Bargnani.)
'67: Let's wrap up this shindig with a slice of palindromic cake from the 1967 76ers, who knocked off Bill Russell's Boston Celtics before beating Rick Barry's San Francisco Warriors to win the chip. It's the "Best Team Ever," so says Wilt Chamberlain.
You going to argue with the Stilt? No, you're not. It's a party. Cool out, get some punch, and enjoy.
Happy Birthday, NBA! Here's to 67 more! (Seriously, someone get on that jersey.)