Sunday, June 03, 2007

A 50-Greatest Birthday

It’s NBA great Billy “The Kangaroo Kid” Cunningham’s 64th birthday today. After playing at the University of North Carolina and averaging 24.8 ppg and 15.4 rpg as well as earning 1965 ACC Player of the Year, Cunningham was drafted in the first round of the 1965 NBA Draft. His second year in the league, the Philadelphia 76ers won the NBA title, with Cunningham coming off the bench to average 18.5 ppg and 7.3 rpg. Over the course of his playing career in both the NBA and the ABA, he was named to the 1966 NBA All-Rookie Team, was named MVP of the ABA for the 1971-72 season, and amassed a total of 16,310 points and 7981 rebounds.

His coaching career started in 1977 after a career-ending injury during the 1975-76 season. He built the 76ers into a powerhouse behind Bobby Jones, Maurice Cheeks, Andrew Toney, Moses Malone and Julius Erving, becoming the fastest coach in league history to reach 200, 300 and 400-win plateaus. In 1983, Cunningham won his second NBA title, this time as a coach.

Cunningham was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1986, and in 1996, he was named to the NBA’s 50th Anniversary All-Time team. He is currently a part-owner of the Miami Heat.

It’s also Bernard Schwartz’ 82nd birthday. You might better know him as Tony Curtis. I loved him in Spartacus.

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