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Sports Then and Now



Iron Man Randy Smith 0

Posted on February 02, 2019 by Dean Hybl

Randy Smith-BravesThe Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month may have had a pretty common name, but his iron man streak as an NBA player was anything but ordinary.

In a streak that lasted more than a decade, Randy Smith played in 906 consecutive NBA games to establish an NBA iron man record that lasted more than a decade.

That Smith made it to the NBA at all was somewhat of an underdog story.

A three-sport standout at Bellsport High School in Long Island (basketball, soccer and track), Smith also was a three-sport All-American at Division II Buffalo State College. He helped lead the Bengals to three straight basketball conference championships and a spot in the 1970 Division II Final Four. Read the rest of this entry →

JUST GO HOME! What if all pro franchises that were poached from their original cities went back home and LA got all the expansion teams? 4

Posted on January 15, 2011 by John Wingspread Howell

Only one of these four teams is a Los Angeles original. Do you know which one?

This has been building up in me for a long time but I read something today comparing the LA Lakers and Clippers and it finally made me blow. I responded to that particular article and started some verbal sparring. Most fun I’ve had in a month of Football Night(s) in America.

Here’s how that little te-te-te went. I picked the skirmish with this salvo:

Just remember that the Clippers best years were in Buffalo with McAdoo, Ernie D, Randy Smith, the Mc/MacMillains, and company. The Braves made more playoff appearances in 8 years than the Clippers have made since leaving Buffalo 34 years ago. LA doesn’t love the Clippers and they’d be better off being BACK in Buffalo! Send them along. We’ll take them.

That comment was basically ignored except for the author who sent me a polite:

“Thanks for the memories, John.”

Then some other reader made the very “LA” comment that he might switch to the Clippers after Kobe is gone. That really got me started.

You are the typical shallow LA fan only “loyal” when superstars are around. Don’t do the Clippers any favors when Coby is gone. Stick with the Lakers, who by the way, were named for the 1,000 lakes of MINNESOTA! What lakes are there in CA except for fricking Tahoe! 🙂 The Lakers should go back to the Twin Cities. The Clips should go back to Buffalo. LA should get the Timberwolves.

That particular reader then decided to get nasty. Good, I thought. Finally, I drew some California blood (although I think it was only water color).

That is the most pointless and irrelevant comment I have seen in awhile. But I’m going to respond anyhow. The reason for keeping the Lakers name is twofold. First, changing the name of the most successful franchise in basketball at the time of the move, would have been a horrible business decision. Second, in case you didn’t know, people from Los Angeles call their town L.A., which happens to be the first two letters of the team, or to put it more lamely, “You can’t spell Lakers without LA!”.

And California has over 3000 lakes and reservoirs, but as far as I know, they have no professional basketball players named Coby.

I threw my next counter-punch.

Sorry about the Kobe spelling. When you’re over 50 your brain farts occasionally. Point is the Lakers should have never left Minneapolis, nor the Braves Buffalo, nor the Jazz New Orleans (and I challenge you to find a rationale for keeping the Jazz name in the home of the Tabernacle Choir). LA as in LAte comer, should be saddled with the Timberwolves, or the Bobcats– the pathetic attempts to undo the mistakes and misery caused by franchise transience. Teams represent towns. With no town loyalty, no brand to be loyal to. Since those storied franchises would still be where they belong places like LA and Sacramento and OKC and Charlotte could have those wonderful new expansion franchises and they can name them whatever they want. How about the LA Confidentials, or Superficials, or Fair-weathers (as in the kind of fans you have out there). Somebody should do an article on the best team names for a city like LA. Nice place to visit, mind you, but wouldn’t want (my team) to live there. Read the rest of this entry →

Bringing the WNBA to Buffalo: Reclaiming the Spirit of the Braves, Breaking the Buffalo Sports Curse 5

Posted on August 08, 2010 by John Wingspread Howell

According to some, the sports woes in Buffalo started when the Buffalo Braves left for Los Angeles.

Recently I completed a satirical series on this site, a sort of “Christmas Carol” for Buffalo sports fans. In the article the ghost of legendary sportswriter Phil Ranallo, who was a lover of the Buffalo Braves of the NBA, pays a series of visits to me explaining the Buffalo sports curse and the only way to break the spell.

If you haven’t read the series you might want to follow this link to get some good context for understanding this article.

To summarize, the series took off with an idea offered by Bill Simmons on ESPN a while back, that the Los Angeles Clippers (the former Buffalo Braves franchise) of the NBA are cursed by the “Indians” for the way they left Buffalo, and that nothing will go right for the Clippers because of it.

According to the Simmons column the name “Braves” referred to Indian warriors, and the inclusion of a feather from an Indian head dress and a buffalo (bison, technically) in the Braves logo meant that by uprooting the team abruptly from a city named Buffalo, and changing the team’s name and logo brought down the wrath of the Great Spirit upon the City of Angels.

(There were also some articles out at the same time stating that the Clippers are not loved in L.A. and would be better off somewhere else).

Sure enough, soon after the original publication of the Simmons column and mine, the Clippers got the number one draft pick, and unlike the last time they had it, actually drafted the best player available—Blake Griffin of Oklahoma—promptly suffered a season ending injury before the first regular game was played.
Read the rest of this entry →

Brave Throat’s Plan B 8

Posted on July 27, 2010 by John Wingspread Howell

This is the fifth and final installment of a sports satire

Could the WNBA be the answer to what ails sports in Buffalo?

I thought he’d given up on me. It has been almost a year since I first heard from Brave Throat. Despite my best efforts to light a fire under the idea of bringing the Braves back to Buffalo,  I had received less than a grand and a few season tickets in commitments—and to be honest, was eventually distracted by life and gave up on the idea.

I’ve been looking over my shoulder, though, fearful that he’d eventually show up in a more Dickensian form, terrorizing me with dream-travel to a Buffalo future sans the Bills and Sabres. I was already imagining it—Buffalo back in the AHL and the AFL as in (the new, old) Arena Football League.

But, no. He was understanding of, if not completely resigned to my failure.

As I suspected, he would not use text messaging to get my attention. He simply popped into my room when I was asleep last night, appearing as some kind of hologram. He had company. Randy Smith. That threw me for a loop.

The two gave me a moment to absorb, then Ranallo aka Brave Throat spoke up.

“OK, John,” I think I over-estimated Buffalo. I should’ve known.” Read the rest of this entry →

What’s New Harry? Brave-Throat Revealed and The Plot Thickens 2

Posted on June 28, 2010 by John Wingspread Howell

Jack Ramsay had three winning campaigns during four seasons leading the Buffalo Braves.

This is part four of a satirical series.

“HSBC ASAP” the text read. I was pretty sure Brave-Throat didn’t mean One HSBC Center.

So I broke the limit on the 400 to the Thruway to the Niagara Extension. Two wheels on the ramp at Church Street. I didn’t know what else to do, so I pulled up right in front.

It was his favorite time, around three in the morning.

Sure enough. The black stretch was waiting for me. But this time he was getting out. “Come with me, Howell,” he said.

I followed him. He didn’t have keys but every door opened for him.

Into the facility. Lights were coming on automatically a step ahead of us. Soon enough we were inside the arena. There was hardwood on the floor. It was the old Braves floor. Exactly as it was in the Aud. Read the rest of this entry →

Brave-Throat: Metaphysics, Simple Math, The Super Bowl and the Stanley Cup 5

Posted on June 21, 2010 by John Wingspread Howell

This is part three in a series:

The second pick in the 1972 NBA draft, Bob McAdoo won three scoring titles in four full years with the Buffalo Braves.

This time he wanted to meet at the Anchor Bar. I thought it was rather bold, considering his secretive, back alley, after dark, jump in, jump out of a smoke-glass stretch limo style at the previous two meetings…until I realized he meant three in the morning, not three in the afternoon.

In the far end of the parking lot, the black limo dissolved into moonless darkness. I had a feeling it wasn’t just coincidence all the street lights within 50 yards were out.

I pulled up parallel to the limo, slid my window down and waited, as instructed. A moment later, the window next to me slid down.

“Hop in,” he said.

I obeyed.

“You don’t get it.” He complained.

“What?”

“Why do you think I’ve been calling these meetings? I need you to take action. Start the ball dribbling, so to speak.”

“What’m I supposed to do?” I asked. “I’m just a Sports Then & Now contributor. A volunteer journalist. The largest audience I’ve had for an article is a couple of thousand, and that was my tongue-in-cheek prediction that the Bills would win the next Super Bowl.”

Read the rest of this entry →

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    • Tony Oliva: Hall of Fame Worthy
      April 21, 2019 | 5:18 pm
      Tony Oliva

      Cuba is known for producing great baseball talent and there has arguably been no one from the island better than the Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month.

      Before injuries cut short his Hall of Fame worthy career, Tony Oliva was one of the best hitters in baseball and combined with Hall of Famers Rod Carew and Harmen Killebrew to make the Minnesota Twins a perennial American League contender during the late 1960s.

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