Here’s the thing: David Thompson is an irreplaceable figure in NBA history, but how many people actually know that? Take these seven pocket-sized fun facts and carry on about your day.
1. He was the #1 overall pick in the 1975 NBA Draft out of North Carolina State by the Atlanta Hawks.
2. He – along with Julius Erving – revolutionized the way the game was played from an athletic stand point. Pretty much, guys like Blake Griffin, Derrick Rose, LeBron, an early 2000’s Vince Carter and any other vertically gifted freak of nature all drew inspiration from the man they call “Skywalker.” Trust me, even if they don’t realize it, they do.
3. Dunks were his lasting legacy, but the man had no problems putting the ball in the hoop in a variety of ways. For example, his 73 point clinic on the last day of the season in 1978 where he compiled a head combusting stat line of 28-38 FG, 17-20 FT, 73 points, seven rebounds and two assists. I’m not sure what’s crazier – the fact he had two assists or how he still lost the scoring title that year to George Gervin by .07 points, who just so happened to score 63 that very same day. Only two people (Wilt and Kobe) in league history have scored more points in a game.
Bonus: He didn’t even want to score 73 that night.
4. The year before he was drafted Pete Maravich was traded from the Hawks to the New Orleans Jazz. Lord only knows what a Pistol Pete/Skywalker combo could have looked like. On second thought, put Pete beside any dominating wingman of that era and his career could have ended totally different. We may have to come back to that.
5. Thompson’s career went up in flames after blowing out his knee after an altercation with a bouncer at New York’s Studio 54 disco.
6. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1996. Yet, his alcohol and drug problems leave questions and frustrations in regards to what his true potential indeed was. A look through NBA history and he may be on the starting five for the “damn-this-guy-could-have-100x-better-if-drugs-weren’t-involved” team. For what it’s worth, Maravich is probably the point guard of that squad.
7. He was Michael Jordan’s favorite player.
Just in case you think the name “Skywalker” was a facade, let this clip marinate.