Anthony Bowie has a lot to be proud of. Despite being selected in the third round of the 1986 NBA Draft
(a.k.a. "The Len Bias Draft") and spending the first several years of his "professional" career playing in the CBA and a handful of European minor leagues, he managed to eke out eight seasons worth of NBA employment. What's more, he actually became a valuable reserve for the Orlando Magic, particularly in 1991-92 when he averaged 14.6 PPG, 4.7 RPG and 3.1 APG while shooting almost 50 percent from the field and nearly 40 percent from distance. Why, he even had two
nicknames ("A.B." and "Boo") and could rightly make the claim that he's one of the top 10 players to ever come out of Oklahoma
! Laugh all you want, but I bet you can't say that.
However, on March 9, 1996
, A.B. did something that he should not have been proud of...although he obviously was: His first (and only) career triple double. And it will live on in infamy as one of the worst cases of stat padding in league history.
Here's what happened: The Magic were leading the Detroit Pistons by 20 points when Bowie -- who was making his second start of the season in place of the injured Nick Anderson -- rebounded a Piston miss. That carom gave Bowie 20 points, 10 rebounds and 9 assists, so he quickly called timeout with 2.7 seconds left so he could go for the triple-double. Magic coach Brian Hill was so upset he handed Bowie his clipboard and stormed away. A.B. drew up a play that called for the ball to be inbounded to him and for him to throw a lob pass to David Vaughn.
Doug Collins, who was coaching the Pistons, angrily told his players to stand at the side of the court when play resumed and not contest Bowie's pass. (That'll show 'em, Doug.) They did what they were told; Vaughn dunked the ball home and Bowie got the assist and his cherished triple-double. The funny thing is, that one meek show of protest sort of epitomizes everything that was wrong with Collins as a coach...and David Stern fined him $5K for it. (Thank God he's not coming back to Chicago to coach next season.)
This is what Bowie said after the game: "I'll probably never have the opportunity to do it again. It was entirely me. Coach (Brian) Hill had nothing to do with the timeout. I knew when he gave me the board that it was up to me. You only get so many opportunities, and that's why I did it. Whether they’re going to move over or whatever they’re going to do, I'll take it. It's all the same. I ran over to tell Doug Collins the situation, that it was a great opportunity for me, but that I didn't want to make anybody mad. He didn't listen."
Shaq, who was still with the Magic, supported his teammate's stat-mongery (naturally). This is what the Big Quotable had to say: "I'm glad he did it. I don't care who gets mad. Because of the talent on this team, Anthony Bowie doesn't get a chance to play a lot. He was in the CBA. A lot of people thought he couldn't make it. He got a chance. He came over here, and that's his first career triple-double. I'm glad for him and could care less if Doug Collins got mad." (It's sort of ironic that, just a couple years earlier, Shaq publically -- and very
bitterly -- complained that David Robinson had padded his own stats
to "steal" the 1994 league scoring title.)
Hill wasn't quite as forgiving as Shaq, and he issued an apology during his post-game interview. "I want to formally apologize to Coach Collins, his staff, the Pistons, organization and the Orlando fans for the timeout that was called. I thought it was totally uncalled for, and it's something I regret."
Of course, Hill was the guy who handed his clipboard over to Bowie and let it all happen. He could have benched him, or told his player not to do it...I mean, he was the coach, right?
Years later, Bowie remained unrepentant
. When asked if embarrassing himself and his opponents was worth it, this is what he said: "To me, yes, it was worth it. You know, people can say what they want, and you know, think of me as a bad guy, but it was an opportunity for me. You know, I ended up playing the 48 minutes all the way out to the last second, that's all it was....you know, you always hear the coaches say play to the last second. And, you know, for me, it was an opportunity, you know -- who knows, I mean, I may have never got to start again, but the opportunity for me was there, and I took advantage of the opportunity.
"Would I do it again in the same situation? If I got to play the whole 48 minutes out, yes I would. I mean, people can say they wouldn't do it again, but when you're in that situation, you just never know what you're going to do. You know, we can pretend that we're going to do certain things at certain times, but when it comes down to reality, you know, we don't know what's going to happen. We really don't know what's going to happen. So I probably would do it again."Dishonorable mentions:
The Bowie story has served as a cautionary tale for future stat padders, but at least two players totally ignored it.
On March 16, 2003
, Ricky Davis -- then a Cleveland Cavalier -- had accumulated 28 points, 12 assists and 9 rebounds during a blowout of the Utah Jazz. But that wasn't enough for Davis, who caught an inbounds pass with six seconds left and was about to shoot at his own basket
so that he could miss and get his 10th rebound. But DeShawn Stevenson wrapped him up and spoiled his plan. Naturally, Davis showed no remorse after the game, saying: "[The Jazz] should be mad. Any team that gets beat that bad shouldn't be happy. I'd probably be mad, too, losing by 20."
Stevenson, believe it or not, actually busted on Davis for not acting professionally. "There's too many people who have done too much for this sport to act like that. This is the NBA, and you've got to be professional, and that's not professional. Yes, I think it was disrespect to the game and disrespect to me. You've got little kids looking up to him and to see him do that isn't right." Uhm, what happened to that
DeShawn Stevenson? Might be time to check his basement for body snatcher pods.
Of course, Davis never would have gotten his triple-double that way: Rule 5, Section 1 of the league's official rules states that: "It is a violation for a player to attempt a field goal at an opponent's basket. The opposing team will be awarded the ball at the free throw line extended." So he made himself look like a huge jackass for nothing. Awesome
Just over a year later, on April 12, 2004
, Bob Sura intentionally missed a shot right before the final buzzer and grabbed the board to "earn" a triple-double of 22 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds. (At least he was actually shooting at the right basket.) Sura tried to cover for his superdickery
joking that the shot "slipped" out of his hands. Ha. Ha.
David Stern found the situation so funny that he discounted the shot attempt on the grounds that a "slip" doesn't count as a shot since the rules clearly state that: "A field goal attempt is a player's attempt to shoot the ball into the basket for a field goal." In other words, if Sura wasn't trying to put the ball in the basket, there could be no shot attempt. And if there was no shot attempt, there could be no rebound. Gotcha, Bobby!
Unlike Bowie and Davis, at least Sura showed a little humility after getting slapped down by the league office. "I'm disappointed that my attempt to earn my third triple caused so much controversy. It was never my intention to make a mockery of our sport and to take any attention away from our huge win over the Nets. If anyone was offended by my actions, I sincerely apologize."
Labels: Athony Bowie, Bob Sura, infamy, Ricky Davis, stat padding, triple doubles, Worst Evers