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Smith's passing stirs memories

June 5, 2009 - Neil Rudel

This story brought back memories.

One of my first favorite teams was the Buffalo Braves, an expansion team that played second- and third-fiddle in the vaunted NBA Atlantic Division that included the Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers and New York Knicks.

Buffalo was the upstart team, the run-and-gunners led by Bob McAdoo, Ernie DiGregorio, Garfield Heard (my personal favorite) and Randy Smith.

(Trivia: Name the fifth starter. Answer later).

They were guided by a fist-in-the-air coach named Jack Ramsay, who remains a part of the game, incredibly, some 35 years later, as an announcer now in his mid-80s.

My old high school buddy, Ronnie Moskat, and I would head out to the car and tune in WBZ, which came in clearly enough to allow us to listen to the piercing voice of Celtics' announcer Johnny Most.

"Bringin' the ball up, Smith. He fiddles and diddles. He looks inside to McAdoo ... he spins..."

Most was one of the two or three best hometown announcers of all time in any sport, maybe THE best.

Randy Smith was the underrated member of the Braves, but, as evidenced by his bio, he was as valuable as any of his more celebrated teammates.

Plus he was a success story as a product of Buffalo State, where he also played soccer. How many NBA players today were on their college soccer teams?

Trivia answer: JIm McMillian.




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