but the BS stops Here.
by Chris Stevenson
As a youth I was always amazed by the athleticism and skill of Randolph Smith of the Buffalo Braves. His speed (in his prime he was considered the fastest man in the league) was uncanny, his defensive work wore opponents down (he was one of two or three players who inspired the league to make steals an official statistic), his ball handing was better than most point guards (Smith was a shooting guard most of his career). Those then-record 906 straight games weren’t just games he was present in just to be there to keep a string going (at times even to the detriment of your team) as was the case with Cal Ripken Jr. and A.C. Green, Smith was cut from the same cloth as another NY sports icon, Lou Gehrig; dude was producin’. What amazes me even more is his apparent ostracizastion from the leagues highest honor; the NBA Hall of Fame (HOF).
My first time seeing him in person was a mid-season game against the Kings when they played for KC-Omaha during the ’73-’74 season. The Kings had to play that game without their star Nate Archibald, I really felt sorry for his replacement, after Smith’s crossover and between-the-legs dribbles, he was like a blur driving to the basket. We left at halftime with Buffalo up by close to 40 points. Even though watching him on TV didn’t equate to seeing him court-side the brief footage I put together here will give you some idea of his abilities and accomplishments.
Smith came off the bench to score 27 points to win MVP of the ’78 All Star Game
Talk radio host Patrick Freeman is calling for Buffalo State to name it’s sports arena after it’s most famous alumni. Indeed before the nation at large heard of Smith, he made a name locally as a guard for division III Buffalo State. For a time he was a classmate of my big sister Cookie. His team played during a time that has yet to be surpassed in local college basketball, the old Little Three Conference put two of it’s schools; St. Bonaventure and Niagara into the NCAA tournament but Smith’s team was considered the real show around Buffalo. Once drafted in the 7th round by the expansion Buffalo Braves, Smith became a starter as a rookie and a drawing card during a couple of losing seasons. In 1973 the Braves drafted Bob McAdoo from North Carolina, a year later they began to make the playoffs regularly while playing in a tough division which included Boston and the Knicks.
His career stats; 16,262 career points for a 16.7 average (he averaged at least 20ppg. for 4 years in a row), 3.7 rebounds-per-game, and 4.6 assists-per-game. Smith didn’t become a nationally-known sportscaster but tried his hand in coaching, a brief stint as head coach of a CBA team. Timing seemed to be the only thing Smith couldn’t outrun on the open court. Once he retired in the early ’80’s (after the west coast stole another NY team and the Braves became the Clippers) the Magic Johnson/Larry Bird era and the rise of the cable TV/sneaker era jumped off simultaneously it became a struggle for previous stars to get recognized. First there was the across-the-board Buffalo-connection snubbing of Bob Lanier, Calvin Murphy, Smith and his former teammate Bob McAdoo from the NBA’s first ever 50 Greatest Players selection that was tailor-made for the young fans of the late ’90’s. Even though the aforementioned players’ Lanier, Murphy and McAdoo did make the HOF, conspicuously missing is Smith. It seems the former two-time All Star was called up by a team in a higher league.
While working out at his place of employment; the Mohegan Sun Casino near Norwich Ct., back on the 4th, Smith suffered a heart attack. He was only 60. One Basketball official put it best “It now appears the good lord needed to select another player to compliment his traveling basketball team. Randy Smith was selected in the first round draft. The entire sports community sends a heart felt condolence to Randy’s family, friends and to his fans. In the Highest Regards, Duane Allen Jenk President / C.E.O. United States Basketball Association.” My suggestion, it’s time for the NBA to stop dropping the ball and make them put the name Randy Smith into the minds of it’s Hall of Fame voters and enshrine Smith where he permanently belongs. Simply make your voice known by casting your vote on the right.
Stevenson is syndicated and writes for the Buffalo Challenger. Contact him at the link below.