"Robert Traylor, the former University of Michigan standout and short-time NBA forward, was found dead in his apartment in Isla Verde, Puerto Rico, according to Traylor's club (via Scott Schroeder). The big man affectionately known as 'Tractor' Traylor due to his size and strength was just 34 years old.
A cause of death and confirmation from Puerto Rican officials are not yet available. [...] Traylor struggled to make an impact at the NBA level, constantly struggling with both his weight and a heart defect that required aortic surgery in 2006."
Aside from a solid rookie season, Traylor's NBA career was nothing to write home about, but here are his career NCAA stats:
Following an NIT MVP performance at the end of 1997, in '98 he averaged a double-double on 58% shooting, leading Michigan to the 2nd round of the NCAA Tournament. He also had this backboard-shattering slam:
First of all, I'm an unabashed Gilbert fan; I've always found him to be one of the NBA's most interesting people, in addition to one of its most gifted players. And after everything that's happened over the past few years, I'm glad he finally has an opportunity to make a fresh start in Orlando.
That said, I'm not sure he can help the Magic very much at this stage of his career.
"As for a subject of the blog, I'll go with my childhood hero, who I feel has long been unheralded by the masses, although I'll admit my bias. I'd love to see a blog dedicated to one Adrian Delano Dantley."
Great choice, Ian! Let's get our Player Audit on...
When I made a post about young stars last week, reader Johnny commented that he didn't know Anfernee Hardaway was as good as his Win Shares make him look. Like Johnny, I also had largely written off Penny as a relic of a bygone era, one of those early "Next Jordan" wannabes (see the image to the left) who were obliterated when the real "Next Jordan" came along a decade later... But you might be surprised to see that for a brief time, Hardaway was truly one of the game's top players, and not just an over-hyped, oft-injured product of the Nike advertising machine.
Dallas Mavericks newcomer Tim Thomashad arthroscopic surgery on his knee this week, and apparently it went well, which means he will be back on the court in no time. That's good news for Thomas and the Mavs, who spent about $1.3 million to acquire the forward this offseason, but I don't really want to talk about Thomas' present condition as much as I want to focus on his past, and a future that once seemed certain but never quite materialized...
You see, Thomas was a superstar prep player for New Jersey's Paterson Catholic back in the day, a two-time Parade All-American who averaged 29 PPG & 12 RPG (and dueled Kobe Bryant in dunk contests) as a senior in 1995-96. While he didn't exactly challenge Kobe in that contest (or Corey Benjamin, for that matter), more than a few observers felt that Thomas was a better prospect than either Bryant or Jermaine O'Neal when it came time for their graduating class to choose between college and the pros. Longtime NBA Director of Scouting Marty Blake had this to say about Thomas back in 1996: "Let me say this, there are some people who felt [Thomas] was the best high school player in the country. The kid Bryant came out because he had a big-time deal with adidas. O'Neal came out because he didn't get the SAT. We had three high school kids come out [in the 1996 Draft]. Thomas was probably better than all of them."
Go ahead, admit it. The sight of Stephon Marbury in a #8 Celtics jersey getting picked by Will Bynum at midcourt and missing 3 shots against Detroit Sunday brought back some bittersweet memories of another Employee No. 8, right? No, no, I'm not talking about Scott Wedman; I'm referring to the unforgettable, roller-coaster ride that was the Antoine Walker era in Boston.