— Benton, AR (@CityofBentonAR) October 7, 2015
Having grown up in Little Rock, AR as a hardcore basketball fan, I have always enjoyed finding out about about the different connections NBA/ABA players have with my state. That process of discovery is a gradual one. I remember standing inside the Dunbar Community Center in downtown Little Rock (by the junior high Joe Johnson attended) and marveling that the place had been a stomping grounds for an NBA No. 4 overall pick most Arkansas basketball fans have never heard of.
I’ve long praised the greatest dunkers* in Arkansas history, but only yesterday learned about a high flying UAPB alum whose nickname was “Helicopter.” That would be the 6’5″ Charles Hentz, who fittingly enough played for the ABA’s Pittsburgh Condors. In November 1970 game, he did something no ABA/NBA baller had or ever will do again.
I’ll let eyewitness Ken Marsh explain:
“Charlie Hentz quickly drove to the basket, soared, and threw down a vicious one-hand dunk, shattering the backboard. It happened so quickly it took everyone’s breath away. The sound was akin to a shotgun blast when the rim gave way and the glass exploded. A Cougars forward named George
Peeples was trying to get the shards of glass out of his Afro.”
An hour later, with the demolished glass backboard now replaced by a wooden one, the game resumed. But near the end of the game, after the teams had switched side, Hentz found another open path and released his fury.
“The crowd was absolutely stunned that Hentz had destroyed a second glass backboard on top of the first one,” Marsh told RememberTheABA.com. “The refs, the Carolina coach, and the Pittsburgh coach Pittsburgh then conferred about what they should do. Pittsburgh was down by about 14 points at the time of Hentz’s second “demolition,” so their coach graciously decided to call the game.”
That’s rich, right?
Here’s some more gold-encrusted factoid: Shawn Marion, as in the Matrix Shawn Marion who was a four-time All Star, is listed as growing up in Clarksville, Tennessee. But it turns out he spent a significant time with relatives in the Dermott, Arkansas area and apparently played some junior high basketball there.
And then there’s the absolute motherlode of NBA Arkansan esoterica, which was unearthed in Saline County about a month ago. It turns out Glen Rice is actually from Arkansas. Yep, just another three-time NBA All-Star and NCAA Tournament MVP who everybody assumed was from Michigan (because all official records state him as being from Flint, Michigan) but actually grew up in Benton until the age of nine or so.
Rice is already known as one of the many stars to come out of Flint, my friend Nate Olson wrote for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Inc. “Now, he wants to be grouped with Arkansas NBA standouts Sidney Moncrief, Scottie Pippen and Derek Fisher, his Lakers teammate.”
Well, well. I’m glad I know Rice’s true origin because his inclusion has a significantly effect on my latest edition of all-time, NBA Arkansans. By “Arkansan,” I mean someone who was either born in the state or played here in college. That’s why you will see Rice mixed with Lee Mayberry (a Tulsa native, but Razorback star) below:
NBA Arkansans Career Points Leaders
|Player||Points||Points Per Game||Years in NBA||Birthplace|
|3||Joe Johnson||18326||17.3||14||Little Rock|
|4||Joe Barry Carroll||12455||17.7||10||Pine Bluff|
|5||Sidney Moncrief||11931||15.6||11||Little Rock|
|8||Alvin Robertson||10882||14||10||Barberton, OH|
|9||Derek Fisher||10713||8.3||18||Little Rock|
|10||Fat Lever||10433||13.9||11||Pine Bluff|
|14||Michael Cage||8278||7.3||15||West Memphis|
|15||Eddie Miles||8120||13.4||9||North Little Rock|
|18||Ron Brewer||5971||11.9||8||Fort Smith|
|19||Todd Day||5917||12.3||8||Decatur, Ill|
|20||Nathaniel Clifton*||5444||10||8||Little Rock|
|21||Bryant Reeves||4945||12.5||6||Fort Smith|
|22||Joe Kleine||4666||4.8||15||Colorado Springs, CO|
|23||Andrew Lang||4431||6||12||Pine Bluff|
|24||Jim McElroy||4120||9.9||7||Cotton Plant|
|26||Ronnie Brewer||3940||7.8||8||Portland, OR|
|27||Oliver Miller||3625||7.4||9||Fort Worth|
|33||Pete Myers||1804||4.8||9||Mobile, AL|
|34||Scott Hastings||1647||2.8||11||Independence, KS|
|37||James Anderson||1243||6.3||4||El Dorado|
|38||Keith Lee||1114||6.1||3||West Memphis|
|39||Sonny Weems||1082||7.7||3||West Memphis|
|40||Jeff Martin||956||6.7||2||Cherry Valley|
|42||Quincy Lewis||567||3.6||4||Little Rock|
|44||Archie Goodwin||425||4.6||2||Little Rock|
|45||Dean Tolson||402||5||3||Kansas City, MO|
|49||Mel McGaha||176||3.5||1||Bastrop, LA|
NB: This is “only” the top 50 of the 70 NBA Arkansans I have in my database. In the coming weeks, I’ll be release more of these for different categories, so stay tuned. Sign up for my newsletter and you can make sure to get them.
* Speaking of great dunkers from the state, Bentonville High senior Malik Monk makes a strong case as the best of the best. Here’s a pic of him and LeBron James, courtesy of the Arkansas Wings’ Ron Crawford.