Is Torrey Craig Guaranteed an NBA Championship Ring This Season?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about basketball and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the basketball urban legends featured so far.

BASKETBALL URBAN LEGEND: Torrey Craig is guaranteed an NBA championship ring no matter who wins the NBA Finals.

It’s so funny that I was planning on doing this same exact story about Dion Waiters, who was in the same position last year as Torrey Craig is this season, but then, well, you know, Torrey Craig was put into this position and so now I might as well do the current example.

Okay, so Torrey Craig plays for the Phoenix Suns, who are in the NBA Finals…

The Suns are playing the Milwaukee Bucks, who earlier this year had on their roster….Torrey Craig…

Torrey Craig on the Bucks

The Bucks traded Craig to the Suns in March. The deal worked out well for Craig, as he has played a lot more for the Suns than he was playing for the Bucks (he went from 12 minutes a game in less than half the Bucks’ games, with no starts, to 19 minutes a game and starting eight games).

This then leads to the same question that came up last year when Dion Waiters was on the Los Angeles Lakers when they defeated the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals, which was the team he played for earlier in the season, which is, “Are you guaranteed to receive an NBA championship ring if your current team plays your earlier in the season former team in the NBA Finals?”
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July 13th, 2021 | Posted in Basketball Urban Legends | No Comments

Did Hank Aaron Really Bail Out the Young Men Who Ran On to the Field When He Broke Babe Ruth’s Home Run Record?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about baseball and whether they are true or false. Click here to view past baseball urban legends featured so far.

BASEBALL URBAN LEGEND: Hank Aaron bailed out the young men who ran on to the field when he broke Babe Ruth’s home run record.

One of the more striking changes in the way sporting events are celebrated in 2021 as opposed to 40-50 years ago is how the fans treat the borders of the field (not typically on their own volition, of course, but rather because the security of the arenas/stadiums force them to).

When the Celtics seemingly won Game 5 of the 1975 NBA Finals in double overtime, the referees had to clear the court of all the fans who rushed on to it to play the last few seconds of the period (the Celtics’ opponents, the Suns, ended up tying the game and sending it to a THIRD overtime, which the Celtics did eventually win).

In 1976, when Chris Chambliss’ game-winning home run against the Royals sent the New York Yankees to the World Series, he was mobbed by fans so much that I don’t believe he ever actually touched home plate that night.

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It was just a much different period back then (and notably, charging the court/field is still a prominent part of college sports).

On April 8, 1974, Henry “Hank” Aaron broke the all-time home run record in Major League Baseball, which was long held by Babe Ruth.

Aaron’s 715th home run was hit in his home park in Atlanta (which the Braves were certainly hoping for) against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Bill Buckner actually was playing left field that day and he made a valiant effort of trying to keep the ball from becoming a homer, but pitcher Al Downing became a part of the history books that day.

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As Aaron rounded the bases, a few fans ran on to the field…

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While I wouldn’t say Aaron was ANGRY at the fans, you could tell he was not exactly thrilled to see them on his trip around the bases, and when one of them tried to pat him on the back while he ran the bases, he swatted the hand away (you can only imagine what Aaron was thinking, especially as the guy had been receiving death threats over the possibility of him breaking the record – but he also likely knew that the teens were not actual threats – Aaron actually said as much over the years).

The fans were 17 year old high school seniors, Britt Gaston and Cliff Courtney. They were both from Waycross, Georgia. When they tried leaving the field, they were arrested by the police and charged with disorderly conduct.

Hank Aaron was known for being a nice man, a really good guy, so a story sprung up that Aaron actually traveled to the jail later to bail the two teens out of jail.

Is that true?
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July 9th, 2021 | Posted in Baseball Urban Legends | 2 Comments

Did Pete Maravich Correctly Predict His Own Death?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about basketball and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the basketball urban legends featured so far.

BASKETBALL URBAN LEGEND: When he was 25, Pete Maravich correctly identified when he would retire and when he would die.

“Pistol” Pete Maravich was a famous basketball player in the National Basketball Association and perhaps an even more famous college player (he played for Louisiana State University – LSU), where he is still the all-time leading scorer in NCAA Division I history (Maravich scored 3,667 points, even though he did not even play Varsity ball as a freshman).

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He was drafted third overall in the 1970 NBA Draft, and was named to the NBA All-Rookie Team in 1971.

He had an impressive NBA career, making the All-Star Game five times (1973, 1974, 1977-1979) plus making the All-NBA First Team twice (1976, 1977) and the Second Team twice (1973, 1978). He also lead the NBA in scoring in the 1976-77 season (31.1 points per game).

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He suffered a leg injury in the 1977-78 season, and that ended up de-railing his career.

By the 1980 season, he was out of basketball for good after ten seasons in the game.

In 1988, at the age of 40, Maravich was playing a pick-up game at the First Church of the Nazarene in Pasadena when he suddenly collapsed died.

As it turned out, Maravich had an undiagnosed congenital heart defect. His left coronary artery was completely missing, forcing his right coronary artery to double in size attempting to make up for the missing artery.

Maravich’s death was shocking and tragic. However, the most shocking thing about it was an alleged quote that Maravich made years earlier, during his fourth NBA season, at the age of 25.
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July 7th, 2021 | Posted in Basketball Urban Legends | No Comments

Did Duk Koo Kim Hang a Sign Saying “Kill or be Killed” Before his Fatal Match with Boom Boom Mancini?

This is the latest in a series of examinations of legends related to boxing and whether they are true or false.

BOXING URBAN LEGEND: Duk Koo Kim hung a sign saying “kill or be killed” before his match with Boom Boom Mancini that resulted in Kim’s death.

The death of Duk Koo Kim was one of the most tragic moments in boxing history, mostly because a lot of people saw the lightweight championship bout between Kim and defending champion Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini.

If a guy dies in a fight no one sees, it is a lot harder for people to get outraged.

Now, if a guy dies in a fight that EVERYone sees, it is equally hard for people to AVOID being outraged.

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July 1st, 2021 | Posted in Boxing Urban Legends | No Comments

How Did Pancho Gonzales Gain His Facial Scar?

TENNIS URBAN LEGEND: Pancho Gonzales received a scar from a knife fight he had when a young teen.

I’ve discussed Richard Alonzo “Pancho” Gonzales here in a past legend. To say Pancho Gonzales was misunderstood during his playing days is an understatement – he was so little known, it’d be hard to say that people knew him enough to MISunderstand him!

One thing that confused many people about Pancho was a scar he had on his left cheek (you can see it clearly in the next picture – but just to be sure, I circled where the scar is)…

Pancho Gonzales scar

People sadly spread a messed up rumor about the scar back during Gonzales’ playing days.

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June 29th, 2021 | Posted in Tennis Urban Legends | 1 Comment

Did the Cincinnati Reds Change Their Name at the Height of Anti-Communism in the U.S.?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about baseball and whether they are true or false. Click here to view past baseball urban legends featured so far.

BASEBALL URBAN LEGEND: Did the Cincinnati Reds change their name during the height of anti-Communism in the United States?

The Cincinnati Reds, taking their name from the Cincinnati Red Stockings, are baseball’s tie to the original baseball franchise, and as a result, for years, on Opening Day, the Reds would be the first team to play (a tradition since discarded).

The second team to call themselves the Red Stockings, the Red Stockings were part of the American Association until they joined the newly formed National League in 1890 (it is here that they shortened their name to the Cincinnati Reds).

The Reds were just another baseball team for the rest of the way, some success, some failure, and a couple of World Series victories along the way.

In the 1950s, though, with the fear of Communism at perhaps its highest level in the history of the United States, the Cincinnati Reds decided that their name “Reds” had far too much negative connotation.
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June 24th, 2021 | Posted in Baseball Urban Legends | No Comments

Was a Female Player Once Drafted By an NBA Team?

BASKETBALL URBAN LEGEND: An NBA team drafted a female player.

Today, if you are a talented female basketball player, you can possibly play professionally in the WNBA and even if you did not make the pros, women’s basketball is a thriving sport in colleges all over the country (last year, eleven different women’s basketball programs drew over 100,000 in attendance), with female players setting themselves up for success later in life with athletic scholarships to colleges. However, this was not always the case. Title IX, the federal law dictating equal treatment between the sexes in college athletic programs, did not became law until 1972 (and it took a number of years for the effects of the law to show up in college sports). The Olympics did not have Women’s Basketball until 1976. So if you were a great female basketball player before this era, there was few avenues for you to benefit from your skills. This was the situation that Denise Long found herself in 1969 when she amazingly found herself as the first woman ever drafted into the National Basketball Association. Read on for more!

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June 22nd, 2021 | Posted in Basketball Urban Legends | No Comments

Did Tennis Tournaments Once Come Up With Rules Specifically to Handicap Pancho Gonzales’ Style of Play?

SPORTS LEGEND: The officials behind the pre-Open pro tennis tournaments once came up with a rule specifically to handicap Pancho Gonzales’ style of play.

Before 1968, there were two separate tennis competitions – “amateur” and “pro.” The amateur tour has most (if not all) of the most famous tournaments, while professional tennis looked a lot different. Rather than showing the best players competing against each other in tournaments, professionals typically went on “tour,” which is sort of like barnstorming – they would travel the world playing each other over and over again. The theory was that fans wanted to see the best players play each other, not a tournament where less famous people might win.

It was this attitude of “making it more entertaining” that led to an interesting decision regarding the rules of professional tennis.
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June 17th, 2021 | Posted in Tennis Urban Legends | No Comments

Did the NBA Used to Have a Limit of How Many Black Players Could Be on a Team?

BASKETBALL URBAN LEGEND: There was a quota in the NBA in the 50s and early 60s of how many black players could be on a team.

The NBA was around for three years before the league was integrated. Earl Lloyd was the first black player to play in the NBA. He suited up for the Washington Capitals in October 1950 for the 1950 NBA Opening Night (two other black players also suited up for their teams opening games in 1950 – they just played the next day, so Lloyd gets to be known as “the first”).

Black players were accepted a great deal more in the NBA than the were in baseball. There are likely a number of reasons why that is – for instance, the league was newer and it was mostly based in the northeast and college basketball was already integrated. Lloyd has said in the past about how sorry he felt for Jackie Robinson, because while both men were integrating their respective leagues, Lloyd got just a fraction of the abuse Robinson received.

Okay, now as to the idea of a quota system.
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June 15th, 2021 | Posted in Basketball Urban Legends | No Comments

Why Won’t Josh Gibson Be the All-Time Home Run Leader in Major League History?

BASEBALL URBAN LEGEND: Once Major League Baseball adopts the Negro Leagues as official Major Leagues, Josh Gibson will be the new home run leader.

In a major piece of news, Major League Baseball recently announced that they would be adding the Negro Leagues to the list of official “Major Leagues.” You see, what we now think of as Major League Baseball (the American League and the National League) is not the only accepted “Major Leagues” in baseball history. There were a number of other professional leagues (most of which predated the formation of the American League) and Major League Baseball has determined that those old leagues, like the American Association, the Union Association, the Players’ League and the Federal League.

Well, now Major League Baseball has officially adopted the Negro Leagues, as well, as being part of the Major Leagues, as well. Not EVERY Negro League, just the ones that baseball history experts have determined were effectively on par with the Major Leagues. These leagues are: Negro National League (1920-31), the Eastern Colored League (1923-28), the American Negro League (1929), the East-West League (1932), the Negro Southern League (1932), the second Negro National League (1933-48) and the Negro American League (1937-48). MLB has decided that anything before 1920 was too disorganized and anything after 1948 was too diluted (as the Majors were now accepting African-American players).

So, with the statistics accumulated in those Negro Leagues becoming “official,” does Josh Gibson, one of the most famous home run hitters of the 20th Century, take his spot on top of the Major League home run record books? After all, his Hall of Fame plaque reads, “almost 800 home runs in league and independent baseball during his 17-year career.” The MLB record is currently 762 home runs by Barry Bonds. Would Gibson therefore be ahead of Bonds?
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December 19th, 2020 | Posted in Baseball Urban Legends | No Comments