Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Of love and (poorly played) basketball
Tim Perry. NBA icon.
Now, that might be the first time you've read those words together. In fact, there's a strong possibility that's the first time those words have ever been strung together. But it's true. And it's all because of one night in mid-November back in 1994, during a game between the Phialdelphia 76ers and the Los Angeles Clippers.
But first, a little backstory for the uninitiated.
It all started with Charles Barkley. He being who he was, wanting to win, and seeing the 76ers not doing everything possible to make that a reality demanded a trade after the 91-92 season. Though a franchise player that gave his all on the court, several off court incidences (not to mention some outspokenness), on July 17th 1992 the 76ers organization made his demand a reality and traded the "Round Mound of Rebound" to the Phoenix Suns for Jeff Hornacek, Andrew Lang, and Tim Perry.
To say the Sixers didn't get an equal return for Sir Charles would be an understatement.
None of the three coming to Philadelphia wanted to be there, and their play showed it. Hornacek, the "diamond" of the trade on the 76ers end, tried every night but as a small shooter couldn't carry a team. He was never a premier player to begin with. The other two did even less, as we'll go into in a bit.
And yet, it was this lack of interest in the sport and the team that cultivated one of the greatest stat lines the NBA would ever see.
Tim Perry, a star in college for Temple (shout out to the Cherry and the White!) was nothing spectacular in the pros. I guess he acted as a serviceable back up on a decent team. But now, with this trade, he was to become a go to player on a terrible team. One might think if nothing else, you could grab some stats in this scenario, but not Tim Perry, and certainly not on a cold November night in Philly.
For whatever reason, my friends and I gravitate toward the more unusual statistics in a box score. Don't ask me how or why it happened, I'll never remember. I just know that after witnessing Tim Perry's box score on November 18, 1994, we would never look at a boxscore the same way.
Because for 11 minutes that night, Tim Perry, while on the floor, statistically did one thing. He turned the ball over. Other than that, it's as if the Sixers played with 4 guys in that timeframe.
And that's absurd.
No points. No rebounds. No shots. No fouls. That means he got out of the way of a lot of things. In fact, I'd like to think that the one turnover came when LaSalle's own Randy Woods (playing for the Clippers), wanted to avenge a LaSalle loss in a Big 5 showdown with Temple that year and threw it off a disinterested Tim Perry's foot. A feat that was probably tougher than it sounds since Perry seemingly did everything he could that night to avoid the basketball.
Think about it for a second. This wasn't some poor guy getting garbage time at the end of the game - this was a legitimate NBA player, who had logged decent time and got double digit
minutes in this game who had absolutely no effect on the game in anyway.
The reason I bring this up?
Well, there's a fantastic blog out there called ClubTrillion, written by Ohio State basketball player Mark Titus. Brilliant in that he is often the 14th or 15th option off the bench, more brilliant in that the fact that not only does he realize it, he revels in it, spinning stories about practicing slam dunks in layup drills, engaging in staring contests with rival cheerleaders, and pulling pranks on teammates. I recommend it enthusiastically.
The Tim Perry connection is actually the name of the blog. Mark hopes to get as much game time without putting up stats.
Kind of like what Tim Perry did for 11 minutes - in a professional basketball game he was paid to perform in. Think about that.
I've emailed Mark with the Tim Perry (I really think he should rename his blog as ever since we saw that box score, we call all statisticless displays by players a "Tim Perry") box score, but so far no word. I'm sure he's just trying to finely craft his response.
Anyway, keep an eye out for your own Tim Perry moments, and think about what it really means to do the absolute minimum in your job, and still get by. I know I do. A lot.