Notable Omissions

An article appeared on the website Hoopsworld last week detailing the impact of UNC players in the NBA.  By and large it was what you would expect highlighting some of the greats from UNC who have made waves at the next level.  However I was also struck by some serious omissions.

The author went through great pains to mention various players, including Lennie Rosenbluth who did not have much of an NBA career but fails to mention several players who had notable careers such as:

Brad Daughtery: Played eight seasons, averaged 19.0 ppg, 9.5 rpg.  Five-time All Star. 1st overall pick in 1986.

Kenny Smith: Played 10 seasons, averaged 12.8 ppg.  Once held record for most three pointers in an NBA Finals game.  Won the Slam Dunk Contest.  6th overall pick in 1987.  Lead studio analyst for TNT NBA coverage.

Walter Davis: Played 15 seasons, averaged 18.9 ppg.  Six-time All Star. 5th overall pick in 1977.

Charlie Scott: Played 10 seasons(NBA-8, ABA-2) Averaged 20.7 ppg. Five-time All Star.

Billy Cunningham: Played 11 seasons(NBA-9, ABA-2) Averaged 21.2 ppg, 10.4 rpg. Five-time All Star. ABA MVP in 1973.  Member of the 1967 NBA Champion Philadelphia 76ers. Named one of the 50th greatest players in NBA history in 1997. Won the 1983 NBA Championship as head coach of the Sixers.  Finished coaching career with 454 wins.

Bobby Jones: Played 11 seasons(NBA-9, ABA-2) Averaged 12.1 ppg. Five time All Star. Member of the 1983 NBA Champion Sixers. 1983 Sixth Man of the Year. 11 time All Defensive team.

Now in one respect I understand that if you are writing an article like this you cannot mention everyone but if you are going to include Sam Perkins as an “All-Time Great” then you have committed journalistic malpactice in not at least mentioning Billy Cunningham.  In fact excluding him in a discussion of UNC’s impact in the NBA is nearly criminal.

The Kangaroo Kid was one of the 50 Greatest players in the NBA history who won a title as a player and head coach. I would go as far as to say he might very well be the 2nd greatest Tar Heel in the NBA behind Michael Jordan given the full body of work as both player and coach.  It should be noted that Jones, Daughtery, Davis and Scott all had more notable careers both statistically and in terms of honors than Perkins did.  In short, Ms Jessica Camerato and member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association did not do her homework which is really a shame since this one site has all the information you need.

15 Responses to Notable Omissions

  1. Larry P says:

    One Tar Heel you didn’t mention is Lee Shaffer, who not only starred at UNC but also in the NBA. I don’t recall which team he played for but do remember seeing him play on TV, scoring 30 points in one game to dominate in the paint. This, of course, was in the ’60s and beyond the memory of most fans.

  2. rlb says:


  3. Tar Heel Fan says:


    I saw Lee Shaffer on the list I linked above but he only played three seasons so I did not include him.

  4. Josh Bowling says:

    No mention of Kupchak as well, although a knee issue held him down a good chunk of his career. Walter Davis also was more notable than anyone gives him credit for, and I’d rather have him on my team than say Sam Perkins. If it weren’t for a back issue, Daugherty could have been in the league a long time putting up those numbers.

  5. Tar Heel Fan says:


    The article mentioned Kupchak for his GM work.

  6. Ryan M says:

    Before we are too harsh, I think it’s important to realize that this article would go on for pages if it were to cover every good player who ever came from UNC. (Chances are the author was limited in how much she could write. Very few magazines, newspapers or websites would publish an article with every great UNC player.) That’s the great thing about the Tar Heels program …. there are far too many players to mention in one story! I think Ms. Camerato did a good job of representing the past, present and future of Tar Heels basketball.

  7. Tar Heel Fan says:

    True enough but how do you leave off Billy Cunningham but talk about Sam Perkins? I love Perkins as much as the next Heels fan but Cunningham left a huge mark on the NBA to the point he was included in the 50 Greatest Players named for the 50th Anniversary of the NBA in 1997.

  8. Chris says:

    He didn’t burn up the NBA but I would at least mention Phil Ford.

  9. william says:

    Phil Ford was doing fine in the NBA until he ran into personal problems. I think he was Rookie of the Year.

    For some reason, the Lakers have often had UNC grads and this is one of the reasons that they were my favorite team when North Carolina had no pro teams. Back in the early 80’s, L.A. had Kupchak, McAdoo and Worthy and later added Rick Fox.

    Billy Cunningham is probably my favorite former Tar Heel because he played on my favorite professional team of all time, the Carolina Cougars and they were the real deal, winning almost 60 games in 1972 in a league every bit as good as the NBA. He wasn’t flashy; he was simply good at everything and is probably not remembered that much because his career was cut a little bit short by injury and because he didn’t have much of an ego.

    In terms of coaching, last time I checked he had the highest winning percentage in NBA history among coaches who have won a title, although he didn’t feel the need to keep coaching after winning with Bobby Jones back in 1983 (I was rooting for the Lakers but Worthy was out and they got sweeped by Philadelphia).

  10. william says:

    swept, lol

  11. 52BigGameJames says:

    agreed Chris–Larry Miller had nearly as good a UNC career as Phil, and about the same pro career, although he did set the ABA single-game scoring record.

  12. 52BigGameJames says:

    and the all-time ABA single-game scoring leader deserves a mention too:

  13. Larry P says:

    I agree with Ryan that Ms. Camarati’s purpose wasn’t to name every Tar Heel in the NBA. But THF is right that Billy C deserved a mention. I’m telling my age, but he was my hero at UNC when I was in high school. At the college level he had the ability to dominate even though he was just 6’5″ and playing center. With the 76ers he started out as their sixth man before working into the starting lineup. He was every bit as good as Havlicek (the original sixth man with the Celtics) coming off the bench.

  14. rbl says:

    I was working in Philadelphia when the Sixers won the NBA chanpionship in 1983, coached by Billy Cunningham and featuring Bobby Jones as the best sixth man in the NBA. Throw in Dr. J and Moses Malone, and you have one great franchise.

    One of my favorite Carolina players was Larry Miller. He didn’t have a great pro career, but he scored 64 points in one ABA game, which I believe was the league record. As I recall, he didn’t play in the NBA.

  15. william says:

    Larry Miller retired from basketball to become an actor, believe it or not. Unfortunately, he did not become another Chuch Connors, although he may have done all right in terms of earning a living. The ABA did drive up salaries in basketball but they still were not close to what they are now. It is hard to piece all of the things together because Miller does have the all time ABA one game record but apparently the Cougars weren’t using him that much.

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