Monday Morning Point Guard
Barack Obama will not only become the nation's first black president on Tuesday, he will also become the first baller to live in the White House. Obama has already declared his plans to build a basketball court at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW., and he likely will make a visit or two to Verizon Center to watch the Washington Wizards in the next four years.
During his historic campaign, Obama generated a groundswell of support from historically apathetic NBA players and received public endorsements from the likes of LeBron James, Chris Paul, Baron Davis, Chauncey Billups, Greg Oden and Etan Thomas, among several others. The Wizards will be on the road this week, but Ray Allen, Dwight Howard, Andre Miller, Dikembe Mutombo and Alonzo Mourning are among the NBA players expected to be in attendance when Obama is sworn in as the 44th president tomorrow.
The connection between the NBA and the 44th president shouldn't come as a surprise. After all, the NBA logo is the image of Jerry West, the greatest basketball player to ever wear the No. 44. Last Friday night, Milwaukee Bucks guard Michael Redd set the tone for the upcoming week when he scored a season-high 44 points -- in the first three quarters -- in a win against the Sacramento Kings.
So, in honor of the president-elect, here is a By The Numbers centered around the No. 44 and the NBA:
1 - Number of players with an Obama, 44-themed tattoo. Washington Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas had the words, "Change We Believe In" and the No. 44 tattooed on his left fingers after the election. Arenas said he has an ownership stake in Undrcrwn, the company behind the T-shirt of Obama dunking on John McCain that movie director Spike Lee wore at the Democratic National Convention.
4 - Longest stretch of consecutive games in which Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant has scored at least 44 points. Bryant scored 45, 48, 50 and 45 points, respectively, against Memphis, Philadelphia, the Los Angeles Clippers and Indiana from Dec. 28, 2005 to Jan. 9, 2006.
5 - Number of players who have had the No. 44 retired by NBA teams -- Jerry West (Los Angeles Lakers), George Gervin (San Antonio), Sam Lacey (Sacramento), Dan Issel (Denver) and Paul Westphal (Phoenix). Hall of Famer Pete Maravich wore the No. 44 when he played for the Atlanta Hawks, but the franchise never retired his jersey. That team of 44s could probably take on any other collection of talent that wore the same number.
7 - Number of current NBA players who wear the No. 44. If you had to pick a team of current 44s, it would look like this: At center, you would have the Atlanta's Solomon Jones. At the forwards, you would have Boston's Brian Scalabrine and Portland's Channing Frye. At the guards, you would have New Jersey's Trenton Hassell and Charlotte's Sean Singletary. Coming off the bench, would be Houston's Chuck Hayes and Utah's Kyrylo Fesenko. Those seven players combine to average 19.6 points this season. That won't scare anybody. That's slightly worse than the scoring average of Derrick Coleman (a former No. 44) his first five seasons in New Jersey (19.9).
But what the current 44s lack in talent it certainly makes up for in personality, with Scalabrine, Frye and Fesenko. Scalabrine gave a classic, uninvited press conference after the Celtics won the NBA title last season, Frye has an entertaining blog, and Fesenko, a little known center from Ukraine, has had some great quotes since joining the league. My favorite was after a reporter arrived in the locker room with a credential dated, March 30, 20008. Fesenko's response, "Were you sent here to kill us all?"
[Side note: The Number 44 is special to me because it was my jersey number during my junior in high school. I was a huge fan of the Missouri Tigers and the best player on that team was Anthony Peeler. I also liked to think of myself as a long-distance shooter, and few shot the three-ball during that time better than Hubert Davis, who also wore the No. 44 at several stops in the NBA. More on him later.]
14 - Wilt Chamberlain's NBA record for consecutive games scoring at least 44 points. Chamberlain scored at least 44 points from Jan. 11, 1962 to Feb. 1, 1962. During the 1961-62 season, Chamberlain set the NBA records for points in a game (100) and season-scoring average (50.4), two records that will likely stand forever. Chamberlain's incredible 14-game scoring binge went something like this -- 52, 73, 62, 62, 54, 53, 44, 62, 55, 47, 53, 50, 55, 53. Chamberlain actually scored 44 points against Detroit on Jan. 20. How about that?
17 - Number of times Michael Jordan scored at least 44 points during the 1986-87 season, when he averaged a career-best 37.1 points. Jordan scored exactly 44 points twice that season -- on Dec. 27, 1986 against Indiana and March 16, 1987 against Houston.
44 - Regular season victories for the Washington Bullets when they won the NBA championship in 1978, the fewest by any champion. The Bullets finished third in the Eastern Conference, but beat Atlanta and San Antonio before upsetting the favored Philadelphia 76ers in the conference finals behind Dick Motta's classic phrase, "The opera ain't over 'til the fat lady sings." They beat the Seattle SuperSonics in seven games.
44 - Games below .500 for the worst two seasons in Wizards' franchise history. The worst record in franchise history belongs to the 1961-62 Chicago Packers who were 18-62. The 2000-01 Washington Wizards went 19-63. The current 8-31 Wizards would need to go at least 12-31 the rest of the way to avoid matching the 2000-01 Wizards for the worst 82-game record.
44 - Triple-doubles needed to pass Fat Lever for No. 6 on the all-time list. Oscar Robertson (181), Magic Johnson (138), Jason Kidd (101), Wilt Chamberlain (78), Larry Bird (59) and Lever (43) have recorded the most triple-doubles in NBA history. Grant Hill is the active leader with 29, but the player with the best shot to pass Lever first is Cleveland's LeBron James, who recorded his 19th career triple-double with 30 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists against Memphis last week.
44 - Combined number of championships won by the NBA's five most successful franchises -- the Boston Celtics (17), Los Angeles Lakers (14), Chicago Bulls (six), San Antonio Spurs (four) and Detroit Pistons (three).
44 - Number of consecutive road losses needed to break the NBA record, set by Sacramento, which lost 43 in a row from Nov. 21, 1990 to Nov. 22, 1991.
44 - Record for fewest combined field goals by two teams in one game. Portland (19) and New Jersey (25) combined for 44 made field goals in a disgusting 64-60 Nets victory on Nov. 9, 2004.
44 - Number of field goals needed to break the record for field goals in a half by one team. Phoenix had 43 field goals in the first half of a 173-143 win against Denver on Nov. 10, 1990.
44 - Most assists in an NBA Finals game, set twice, by the Los Angeles Lakers against New York on May 6, 1970, and again by the Lakers against the Boston Celtics on June 4, 1987.
44.0 - Career field goal percentage of Bill Russell, a five-time MVP and the greatest winner in NBA history with 11 championships in 13 seasons. The Hall of Fame center was also a pioneer and civil rights crusader in the 1960s. He became the NBA's first black coach in 1966.
44.1 - Career three-point percentage of former NBA player Hubert Davis, which ranks third all-time (minimum 500 attempts) behind the Toronto Raptors' Jason Kapono (45.8), and Phoenix Suns General Manager Steve Kerr (45.4). Davis, as mentioned before, also wore No. 44.
44.8 - Wilt Chamberlain's scoring average in 1962-63. If you round up, Chamberlain averaged 45, but he is the only player in league history to average more than 44 points for a full season. This was the last season Chamberlain averaged more than 40.
The weekly awards are coming. . .
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