Where Are They Now?: The Random NBA All-Star Edition
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If you're an NBA junkie, there's a good chance that at some point you've watched highlights of some game from 20 or 30 years ago and thought, "Whatever happened to that guy?"
There are some former All-Stars who, by sheer virtue of their accomplishments, will never fully get out of the spotlight. Guys like Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan will never be able to duck media attention for too long.
But there are others who we just don't see all that much. Maybe they appear in a few advertisements now and then, but in general, you don't hear much about them. Until today.
Let's finally answer the question, "Where are they now?" for a few former NBA All-Stars.
It's been a while since Steve Francis has been a part of our lives.
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Before Russell Westbrook or Derrick Rose had even sniffed the NBA, Steve Francis was wowing crowds with his lightning crossover and crazy ability to jam.
The Houston Rockets star shared Rookie of the Year honors with Elton Brand in the 1999-00 season and made three consecutive All-Star teams from 2002-04.
It seems strange to think about now, but 10 years ago, you could have counted on one hand the number of guards better than Stevie Franchise. He was that good.
Unfortunately, Francis’ fall from franchise player to benchwarmer was swift. He had a reputation for being a less-than-hard worker who failed to put much effort into staying in shape. To make matters worse, migraines induced by Meniere's disease hit him hard in his third year in the league, and when he was traded to the Orlando Magic in 2004, he more or less fell off an NBA cliff (per ESPN.com).
Francis’ professional basketball career ended two years ago when he parted from his Chinese league team, the Beijing Ducks. But just because he’s out of basketball doesn’t mean that Francis isn’t keeping busy.
Francis is now most interested in philanthropic work. He founded the Steve Francis Foundation—a foundation created to generate educational and recreational opportunities for at-risk youth (per the foundation’s official website)—in 1999, and he continues to work closely with the foundation (per Gazette.net’s James Peters).
Francis also launched a hip-hop music label, Maserati Music, in the summer of 2010. The label is one of a few Francis-led business ventures. He’s also been a part of a sports management firm, a construction company and a catering service among other things (per Tom Schad of the The Washington Times).
No matter what Francis does from here on out, we’ll always remember him as the man who wowed crowds with stuff like this. Oh, what might have been.
If not for injury, Houston could have been one of New York's greats.
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New York Knicks fans know Allan Houston as both the sweet-shooting guard who helped lead them to the NBA Finals in 1999 and the man who destroyed any chance the team had at relevance throughout the 2000s.
In 2001, the Knicks opted to sign Houston to a maximum contract extension, a move that ultimately backfired spectacularly.
Injuries limited him to 50 games in the 2003-04 season and just 20 games in the 2004-05 season. Houston ultimately announced his retirement in 2005, two years before his deal was even set to expire. Needless to say, there are a lot of bittersweet memories when it comes to Houston.
These days, he still helps to lead the Knicks, just in a different capacity than he used to.
Houston now serves as New York’s assistant general manager. He became part of the Knicks front office in 2008 and is one of the men credited for engineering the Carmelo Anthony trade two years ago (per Greenwich Citizen’s Julie Ruth).
Beyond his front office duties, Houston is also founder of the Allan Houston Legacy Foundation, which was originally started in response to the 9/11 tragedy (per the foundation’s official website). The foundation has since expanded and now encompasses a wide variety of charitable activities.
The "Reign Man" is one of the all-time great dunkers.
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If you're a newer NBA fan and don’t know who Shawn Kemp is, then just know that he was essentially the league's first Blake Griffin.
Back in his Seattle SuperSonics days, Shawn Kemp was the standard to which all big-man dunkers were held to. Few bigs in history have run the floor as well as the “Reign Man” did, and with the exception of perhaps Charles Barkley, no big was more dangerous with the ball on a fast break.
Unfortunately, Kemp’s basketball-playing days ended in a less-than-stellar fashion.
He battled both weight and drug problems throughout the final few years of his career and looked like a shadow of his former high-flying self. He retired in 2003, and though he considered many NBA comebacks, nothing ever really materialized.
Kemp now lives in Seattle, where he is much beloved and is the owner of a restaurant named Oskar’s Kitchen. He spends much of his time (when he’s not at the restaurant) working with his son, Shawn Kemp Jr., a sophomore at Washington University and a forward on the basketball team (per SI.com’s L. Jon Wertheim).
Even when he was over 40, Mutombo could still bring it.
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Dikembe Mutombo made blocking shots cool.
There was nothing quite like seeing a young Mutombo rise up for a block and then hit whoever got stuffed with his infamous finger wag. It's often been imitated (most recently by Serge Ibaka), but no one has or will ever do it like Dikembe. He was the best.
Mutombo retired from basketball in 2009 after a pretty illustrious career. He's second all-time in recorded blocked shots, a four-time winner of the Defensive Player of the Year award and he's one of the most intimidating defensive presences in league history. Impressive stuff.
He may be done with basketball, but Mutombo has stayed active since exiting the league. Not only did he recently star in perhaps the most absurd video game in human history as well as one of the best commercials of the year, but he is also president and chairman of the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation.
The Dikembe Mutombo Foundation, created in 1997, is dedicated to improving the health, education and quality of life for the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (per the foundation's official website).
Mutombo's work with the foundation led to NBA Commissioner David Stern naming him as the NBA's first global ambassador in 2009. He now works to help grow and celebrate the game of basketball on an international level.
Unfortunately, Mutombo's name has been making some headlines recently for the wrong reasons. Just over a month ago, it came to light that he was, seemingly unknowingly, part of a $10 million gold scam (per the Houston Chronicle's Mike Tolson and Tony Freemantle).
Maybe the most underrated forward of the 1980s right there.
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Along with being a four-time NBA All-Star, Tom Chambers has a few claims to fame.
Not only did Chambers win MVP of the 1987 All-Star Game (the greatest All-Star Game ever played), he's also the star of one of the greatest in-game dunks of all time and is one of the most unstoppable video game characters in history.
Chambers retired in 1997, but much like Allan Houston, he remains involved with the NBA. He now works as a studio host for the Phoenix Suns (where he spent much of his career) and is the owner of the Shooting Star Ranch, located in North Ogden, Utah (per Backsportspage.com's Peter Mundo).
He recently talked to the Deseret News' Dirk Facer about his broadcasting career, saying:
It's different. The good thing about broadcasting versus coaching, or even playing for that matter, is I have summers off. When I played I didn't have summers off, but now I truly do. I have games but it's half the day so I can have a life. Obviously, we do a lot of games but I love it. … It's a really good job to talk about the team and have fun with it. It's a full-time job where you still have time to enjoy the kids when they're out of school and stuff like that. So I really like it.
On top of all of that, Chambers was inducted into the Suns' "Ring of Honor" in 1999. He's one of just 12 inductees (per NBA.com).
Eric "Sleepy" Floyd
One of the greatest "no one can stop him" games in NBA history.
There's a good chance that you've never heard of Eric “Sleepy” Floyd, who's become one of the forgotten point guards of the 1980s.
Floyd only made one All-Star appearance in his career (1987), and his career averages are a relatively modest 12.8 points and 5.4 assists per game. Nothing spectacular.
But his unforgettable offensive explosion in Game 4 of the 1987 Western Conference Semifinals—which is now known as the “Sleepy Floyd game”—has turned Floyd into a legend.
If you haven't seen the Sleepy Floyd game, then just watch the highlights above. Sleepy dropped 51 points, including 29 in the fourth quarter alone, most of which came on driving layups.
To appreciate what he did, you need to know that Michael Cooper and Byron Scott (the men guarding Floyd for most of the game) were two of the best defensive players of their generation. Nobody torched them the way that Sleepy did in Game 4. It just didn't happen.
Sleepy ultimately retired in 1995 and now resides in Charlotte, where he works with the local community. He said in an interview with Warriors.com:
I’m doing a lot of stuff for the community, doing some things with the Bobcats here, locally. I’m working with a lot of charities in the area with the high schools and a men’s shelter. Just doing several things that keep my interest and keep me motivated and just enjoying retirement.
Funnily enough, Sleepy has also finally figured out how to cash in on his nickname. He recently became a brand ambassador for Comfort Revolution, a developer and marketer of high-end sleep products.
Comfort Revolution CEO and Founder Michael Fux recently said (via BedTimes.com):
We respect all that Eric has accomplished on and off the court, and believe he’ll be a great match for a company whose hallmark is innovation. Besides, who better to talk about the value of a good night’s sleep than someone whose nickname is Sleepy?