50 Random NBA Facts You Never Knew

Josh BenjaminCorrespondent IMarch 8, 2012

50 Random NBA Facts You Never Knew

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    As NBA fans, we're always hungry for NBA knowledge. I'm sure that some of you out there have every year's champion memorized from past to present. In other cases, I'm sure some people have their favorite team's history memorized from top to bottom.

    However, what about the more random NBA trivia? For example, when was Michael Jordan drafted? Which Hall of Famer had his number retired by the Harlem Globetrotters?

    Fasten your seatbelts, dear readers, because this is going to be one hell of a ride. Here are 50 random NBA facts that I'm sure some of you never knew.

Providence, Rhode Island Once Had a Team

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    The NBA first came to be as the Basketball Association of America in 1946, and one of the teams was called the Providence Steamrollers. This squad lasted a total of three seasons, putting together a cumulative record of 46-122.

    I've gotta say, I'm not surprised.  With a name like the Steamrollers, I can imagine it'd be hard to attract talented players.

The Raptors Weren't Toronto's First Basketball Team

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    Believe it or not, the Raptors and then-Vancouver Grizzlies weren't the first NBA teams to tip off north of the border. That honor belongs to the Toronto Huskies, one of the first teams in the league.

    However, at that point, Canada proved to be a tough basketball market as the Huskies lasted just one season, going 22-38 and missing the playoffs.

Muggsy Bogues Was a First-Round Pick

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    At 5'3", Muggsy Bogues is the smallest player to ever play in the NBA. Seeing as how he averaged just 8.3 points and 6.6 assists in four years at Wake Forest, one wouldn't think he was a first-round pick.

    One would be wrong, as the Washington Bullets selected the diminutive point guard with the 12th overall pick in the 1987 draft. He would go on to have a 14-year career, making his bones as a defensive threat and a decent passer. In terms of scoring, he only averaged 10-plus points three times.

    Still, he became something of a folk hero with his height, and has many fans to this day.

Robert Parish Averaged Under 20 Points Per Game for His Career

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    Robert Parish is easily one of the greatest centers to ever play the game. A seven-footer, he won four championship rings (three with the Boston Celtics, one with the Chicago Bulls) and played in nine All-Star games during his 21-year career.

    That said, one would think that his numbers were off the charts being a member of the dominant Celtics teams of the 1980s. Rather, Parish was not really a dominant scoring center. In fact, he averaged higher than 18 points five times.

    Given that, Parish finished his career with a fairly...well, average career average of 14.5 points per game.

Chris Webber Never Played One Game for the Team That Drafted Him

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    As a member of the University of Michigan's "Fab Five," Chris Webber was an absolute stud on the court. In two years with the Wolverines, he averaged 17.4 points and 10 rebounds per game.

    Sure enough, the Orlando Magic took him with the first overall pick in the 1993 NBA draft and immediately traded him to the Golden State Warriors for Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway. Not many people know that the Warriors didn't draft the future Hall of Famer.

Shaquille O'Neal Had a Rap Hit

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    I'm not ashamed to admit that when I was playing playground basketball, this song would be playing in my head while I took my shots.

    Listen and laugh, folks.

Dave DeBusschere Played Professional Baseball

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    Dave DeBusschere may be best known as one of the best forwards of his generation, finishing his 12-year career with averages of 16.1 points and 11 rebounds per game. However, Deion Sanders better move over. DeBusschere was also a two-sport athlete who spent two seasons in Major League Baseball as well.

    A pitcher with the Chicago White Sox, DeBusschere spent two years with the team. Over that stretch, he went 3-4 with a 2.90 ERA and 1.38 WHIP.

    Now we know why he switched to basketball, I guess...

Ray Allen's Real First Name Is Walter

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    Seriously, who knew? Then again, can we blame him after the emergence of this guy?

Pau Gasol Went to Medical School

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    Gasol's face says it all in this picture.

    "I could have been a doctor, and now I'm stuck in Los Angeles sharing the ball with an egomaniac named Kobe. HELLLLLPPPPPPPP!"

Kobe Bryant's Middle Name Is Bean

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    My best guess is that Kobe's middle name comes from his father, Joe "Jelly Bean" Bryant. Either way, it's kind of hilarious having your middle name be the same as a delicious legume.

Rasheed Wallace Had His Ring Made to Fit the Middle Finger

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    I'm guessing maybe so he could flip people the bird in style?

Vladimir Radmanovic in "The Nutcracker"???

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    Just when I thought there weren't enough reasons to have a laugh about Radmanovic, here we have another one, it seems.

Wilt Chamberlain Had His Number Retired by the Harlem Globetrotters

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    That's right, folks. Before he was taking the NBA by storm, Wilt Chamberlain was one of the fun-loving goofballs on the Harlem Globetrotters.

    His signature trick? Picking up captain Meadowlark Lemon off the ground and throwing him high in the air before catching him.

    He spent just one year with the team and on March 9, 2000, they retired his No. 13.

The Three-Point Shot Originated in the ABA

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    Believe it or not, the fan-favorite three-point shot wasn't always in the NBA. It, in fact, started in the ABA, which was known for more flashy play and showmanship.

    The NBA didn't adopt this new rule until the 1979-1980 season. The rest, as they say, is history.

Tim Duncan's Famous Merlin Tattoo

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    Well, now we know what Duncan's favorite Disney flick is.

Kobe Bryant Met His Wife at a Rap Video Shoot

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    Who needs Match.com when you have a hip-hop music video set? Not Kobe Bryant, who met ex-wife Vanessa on the set of a video by Tha Eastsidaz while taking a break from recording an album of his own.

    I think we know which group was more successful in their musical endeavors, don't you?

Carmelo the Class Clown

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    Apparently, Carmelo Anthony has a bit of a humorous streak. When he was in grade school, he got detention for introducing himself to students and teachers as "Tyrone."

    His reason? They couldn't pronounce Carmelo.

Vince Carter the Musician??

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    Well folks, just when we were running out of reasons to make fun of the washed-up Vince Carter, here's another one. He was apparently a drum major in high school.

    Not gonna lie, I'm not feeling him in that uniform.

LeBron James Was Not the First Great High School Sensation in the NBA

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    Believe it or not, LeBron James was not the first highly-touted high school prospect to play in the NBA, and I'm talking about hype alone.

    That honor belongs to Moses Malone, a center/forward who spent 19 years in the league. He ended up having a great career despite not playing any college ball.

    Over that 19-year stretch, Malone won three MVP awards, made 12 consecutive All-Star teams and won a championship with the Philadelphia 76ers in 1983. When he retired, he had averaged 21.9 points and 12.9 rebounds for his career.

    In 2001, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Manute Bol's Lion Escapades

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    Manute Bol was 7'7" and weighed a spindly 200 pounds. Yet, this guy apparently packed something of a punch.

    One of his favorite stories to tell was one about him killing a lion with a spear. If that really happened, Bol is a man I would not have wanted to mess with.

Jump Balls Used to Be After Every Basket

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    Man, can you imagine how long each game would last if this were the case?

    Forget about games being on TV. The league wouldn't be able to afford it!

Bill Russell Wasn't Always Associated with the Boston Celtics

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    Many know Bill Russell as the phenomenal center who spent years with the Boston Celtics, with whom he won 11 championships.  He even won two as a player-coach.

    Russell also spent time at the helm for two more teams. From 1973-1977, he coached the Seattle SuperSonics and for part of one season, in 1987-1988, he coached the Sacramento Kings.

    His time with those teams wasn't bad, but nowhere near as good as his time in Beantown. The furthest he got with Seattle was the conference semifinals and with Sacramento, he didn't even last the whole season.

The Raptors Didn't Draft Vince Carter

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    The Raptors had the fourth pick in the 1998 NBA draft and they used it to pick Antawn Jamison.

    Almost immediately, they traded that pick to the Golden State Warriors for Jamison's friend and teammate from the University of North Carolina, the legendary Carter.

Only One Man Has Averaged a Triple-Double for One Season

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    This honor belongs to Oscar Robertson, who did it as a second-year player for the Cincinnati Royals in 1962. That year, he averaged 30.8 points, 11.4 assists and 12.5 rebounds.

    The crazy part is that he was only tops in assists that year and to add insult to injury, he was not named MVP.

John Stockton Doesn't Hold the Record for Most Assists in a Game

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    That honor belongs to former Orlando Magic guard and current Milwaukee Bucks head coach Scott Skiles, who dished out 30 assists against the Denver Nuggets on December 30, 1990.

Kobe Bryant Wasn't a Top-10 Pick

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    Talk about a travesty, right? The guy was a high school stud, and he slipped to the 13th pick.

    To give you an idea of how badly some teams screwed up in passing on him, here are the players who were taken between All-Star Antoine Walker and Bryant:

    Lorenzen Wright, Kerry Kittles, Samaki Walker, Erick Dampier, Todd Fuller and Vitaly Potapenko.

    No doubt that some GMs had some 'splainin to do.

The Celtics Lost the Finals Only Once with Bill Russell

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    They lost to the Bob Pettit-led St. Louis Hawks in 1958, four games to two.

    How? Well, surely Russell getting injured in Game 3 had something to do with it.

Elvin Hayes Never Won an MVP Award

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    Kind of shocking considering how he played in 12 consecutive All-Star games, won a championship and averaged 20 points per game or more in 10 of his 16 NBA seasons.

The New York Knicks Begat a Senator

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    That's right, folks. I'm talking about three-term senator from New Jersey and former Democratic presidential candidate Bill Bradley.

    As a forward for the New York Knicks, he won two championships and made one All-Star team.

Wilt Chamberlain Is the Only Rookie of the Year to Lead in Scoring

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    Wilt the Stilt averaged 37.6 points per game that year, playing for the Philadelphia Warriors. He also led the league with 27 boards per contest.

The Game with the Largest Margin of Victory Involved the Cleveland Cavaliers

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    The date was December 17, 1991 as the Cavs dropped the hammer on the Miami Heat, 148-80.

    Mark Price and John Battle led Cleveland in scoring with 18 points apiece.

The Celtics Won a Title in the '80s Without Bird or Parish as Finals MVP

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    I was just as shocked to learn this as you are. It turns out, the 1981 Finals MVP Award went to forward Cedric Maxwell. 

    Over the courses of Games 3, 4 and 5, he scored 71 points and provided a valuable spark outside of Boston's Big Three: Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish.

The Oklahoma City Thunder Have a Championship in Their History

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    They won a title as the Seattle SuperSonics, back in 1979. With Hall of Fame player and coach Lenny Wilkens at the helm, the team defeated the Washington Bullets in five games.

God Shammgod Is Not a Myth

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    He was an effective point guard for Providence College who played 20 games for the Washington Wizards before going on to have a successful career overseas. He currently plays in China.

Larry Brown Once Coached College Ball

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    Most people know Brown as the nomadic NBA coach, but his travels also brought him to two stops on the college level. He spent two years at UCLA and in his first year with the Bruins, he took the team to the title game, where they lost to Louisville. That spot would later be vacated after some players were deemed ineligible.

    Just a few years later, Brown was hired to coach the Kansas Jayhawks and he spent five seasons there, winning a championship his final year.

    He would win an NBA championship coaching the Detroit Pistons 16 years later, thus becoming the only coach to date to win championships as both a college and professional coach.

Isiah Thomas Scored 16 Points in 94 Seconds and Still Lost

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    His Detroit Pistons were facing the New York Knicks in the fifth and deciding game of the first round of the 1984 playoffs and he accomplished this feat to force overtime.

    Unfortunately, the Knicks held their ground and went on to win.

Wilt Chamberlain Wasn't the First to Score 2000 Points in a Season

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    That honor belongs to George Yardley, who scored 2001 points for the Detroit Falcons in the 1957-1958 season. He averaged 27.8 points per game that year.

Allen Iverson Holds the Record for Most Steals in a Playoff Game

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    Most remember him as a volatile scorer, but AI recorded 10 steals against the Orlando Magic on May 13, 1999.

A Relative Unknown Has the Best Career Free-Throw Percentage

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    The top spot in this department belongs to former Cleveland Cavaliers guard Mark Price, who finished his career shooting 90.4 percent from the charity stripe.

Miami Heat Are the Only Team to Win Both the Dunk Contest and Shootout

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    At the 1995 All-Star Weekend, guard Harold Miner (aka "Baby Jordan") took home his second Slam Dunk Contest trophy while teammate Glen Rice won the Three-Point Shootout.

Dikembe Mutombo Was an All-Star Rookie Without Winning ROY

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    The dynamic rebounder and shot-blocker made the All-Star team as a rookie for the Denver Nuggets, but lost Rookie of the Year to Charlotte Hornets forward Larry "Grandmama" Johnson.

The Phoenix Suns Had 10-Game Winning and Losing Streaks in One Season

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    This happened in the 1996-1997 season, when the team lost 13 games to open the season. They then acquired Jason Kidd from the Dallas Mavericks, and he got injured in his first game with the team.

    He would come back to lead the team on a magical run to the playoffs that saw a 10-game winning streak. The Suns finished the year as the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference.

Toni Kukoc Was Known as "The Pink Panther"

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    Maybe because he's skinny and goofy looking?

Shawn Kemp's Middle Initial Means Nothing

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    Just how the "S" in Harry S. Truman is just an initial, such is the case for Mr. Shawn T. Kemp.

Shawn Kemp Was Not a Top-10 Pick

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    Speaking of Kemp, one of the most dominant power forwards of his generation, he was not a top-10 pick of his 1989 draft. Players taken ahead of him include Pooh Richardson, Tom Hammonds, Danny Ferry and bust extraordinaire Pervis Ellison.

Charles Barkley Only Played Two Years of High School Ball

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    The "Round Mound of Rebound" was cut from the team his freshman and sophomore years.

The Celtics and Knicks Are the Only Teams to Have Never Moved

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    Every other original team has moved or folded since the league's inception.

Chamberlain, Not Russell, Had the Most Rebounds in a Game

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    Wilt pulled down 55 boards against the Boston Celtics on November 24, 1960.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Was Not the First Pick in the Draft

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    This is something of a tricky fact, as Abdul-Jabbar was indeed taken first overall by the Milwaukee Bucks in the 1969 draft.  However, it was when he went by the name Lew Alcindor, years before he converted to Islam and changed his name.

Michael Jordan Was Not the First Overall Pick

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    This may seem like common knowledge, but hear me out. I posed this question to 10 friends who call themselves basketball nuts: Michael Jordan was drafted in 1984. Who was the first overall pick?

    Sure enough, all of them said MJ himself was taken first. In reality, His Airness, considered by many to be the greatest player of all time, was picked third.

    Taken ahead of him were Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon (by the Houston Rockets) and injury-prone Sam Bowie (by the Portland Trail Blazers). I'm guessing that the Blazers are still kicking themselves over passing on Jordan, especially after losing to him and the Chicago Bulls in the 1992 NBA Finals.