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Nate Archibald in Celtics jersey – da:dukebasketballreport.com

Article by John Manenti

Sometimes it is customary to say, in daily life as in sport, that “Success comes when you least expect it”, and that’s a bit what happened, speaking of US professional basketball, to the protagonist of our history today, certainly a player of the highest quality, but who he manages to win the NBA title when he certainly didn’t expect it anymoreeven if much of the credit is undoubtedly his, as we will see later …

Nathaniel “Nate” Archibald was born on September 2, 1948 in New Yorkshowing off in the endless races in the Playgrounds of the Bronx, or a neighborhood where the struggle for survival is on the agenda, even if its qualities with the “wedge ball” do not reconcile with the study, given that “Tiny” (that is to say “lowercase” as he certainly did not shine in terms of stature …) abandons the “DeWitt Clinton High School” after adding up several absences and he only has to thank Pablo Robertson in particular, who had sensed his enormous potential, who manages to convince the Institute to reinstate him.

Archibald does not take long to assert his qualities as an excellent point guard, also convincing himself to concentrate on books to improve his academic performance and even if no College offers him a scholarship precisely because of his far from excellent grades, he manages to enroll at the University of Texas” in El Paso where, under the guidance of coach Don Haskins, he played three seasons at a high level from 1967 to 1970, recording shooting averages of 37.3 points in 1969 and 21.4 in 1970 …

But the fact of not having reached the “Final Four” of the NCAA Tournament causes Archibald to be overlooked on the occasion of the Draft that takes place on March 23, 1970 in his New York, coming selected only in the second round by the Cincinnati Royals, who had won center Sam Lacey in the first roundwhile as a guard the Atlanta Hawks had completed the best shot, winning the performance of Pete Maravich.

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The landing in Ohio for the 22-year-old Archibald coincides with the sale to the Milwaukee Bucks of the “legendary” Oscar Robertson, so as to find himself playing the role, but if there is, there is no better way to “learning to swim than jumping into the water …”, what happens to the young New Yorker, who looks pretty good at debut in front of his home crowd against New York – a match that, despite ending in a 104-128 defeat, sees him score 17 points and 7 assists – to then complete his first freshman season being used in all 82 regular season games with 35 minutes on the court and averages of 16.0 points, 5.5 assists and 3.0 rebounds per game, anything but how despicable…

In addition, Archibald stages a super performance on March 13, 1971 in the 136-127 success against the Atlanta Hawks, in which he surpasses Maravich by scoring 47 points (15 of 20 from the field and 17 of 21 from the line …), while failing to avoid the negative record (33-49) of the Royals, who do even worse (30-52) the following year, a circumstance which involves the transfer of the franchise in Kansas.

Things don’t improve much, given that the Kansas City Kings end the season with a 36-46 record, but not for Archibald, who has the opportunity to demonstrate all his talent by signing a record still unsurpassed, i.e. being the only one to have won the classifications both as best scorer with 34.0 points per game and as regards assists, having distributed an average of 11.4 to his teammates with also the personal best of 46′ on the parquet in the 80 matches in which he takes the field, also improving his “Personal Best” as regards only one meeting, given that on November 18, 1972 in the 127-117 success over the Houston Rockets he allows himself to score 51 points (17 of 34 from the field and 17 of 18 with free throws …) as well as packing 14 assists …

Levels of excellence that Archibald also confirms in the following three years, so much so that it is no wonder if is chosen for theAll Star Game” 1973, 1975 e 1976as it is inserted in the “NBA First Team” in the same seasons, despite the fact that on only one occasion the Kansas City Kings reach the Playoffs, only to be eliminated 2-4 in the first round by the Chicago Bulls, while another surprise arouses the decision of the Management to deprive themselves of the 28-year-old’s benefits “Tiny” in the summer of 1976, being traded to the New York Nets against two first picks in addition to Jim Eakins and Brian Taylor, although the season in his hometown is not the happiest, limited to only 34 games due to various injuries and with averages of 20.5 points and 7.5 assists per game.

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But the worst was yet to come in that after being sold in the next transfer market session to the Buffalo Braves, Archibald does not take the field even once with his new teammates due to a ruptured Achilles tendon which makes him miss the entire season and there are many, now approaching the age of 30, who believe the continuation of his career is highly at risk …

Luckily for Archibald, they don’t think so Boston, where the Management, after a season of no access to the Playoffs which also ended with the retirement of John Havlicek, last of the “legendary” training capable of dominating the 60s, decides to revolutionize the staff and an experienced player like the New York point guard seems suitable for “act as brooder” to a somewhat rejuvenated squad, even if the beginnings are not the most promising, given that comes with almost 10 kilos overweight due to long inactivity, so as to provide an average contribution of only 11.0 points and 4.7 assists per game in a “transitional seasonwhich sees the Celtics finish (29-53) with their worst record in 30 years.

However, things soon improve, thanks above all to the inclusion in the “roster” by a certain Larry Bird, so that already in a moment Boston conclude la “regular season” 1980 with the best record (61-21) in the entire NBAto which Archibald contributes by improving his averages to 14.1 points and 8.4 assists per game, despite being defeated 1-4 by the Philadelphia 76ers in the Eastern Conference Finals, with the latter surrendering in the challenge for the title to Los Angeles Lakers by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and rising star Earvin”Magic” Johnson …

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The one between Celtics and Lakers is a challenge destined to characterize the entire decade, but the following year it was Boston who won the day, finishing the regular season with the best record (62-20) tied with Philadelphiamanages to take revenge on his bitter rivals at the end of an exciting series for the title of the “Eastern Conference” who sees i Celtics prevail 4-3 after trailing 1-3 with Archibald contributing 19.0 points and 7.4 assistssecond in field goals only to Bird and therefore don’t pass up.”the opportunity of life”, in his first and only career Playoff Final, beating the Houston Rockets 4-2 who had eliminated the Los Angeles holders.

Having reached the milestone dreamed of by every NBA player, Archibald sends a more than positive third season to the archives – a circumstance confirmed by being back among those selected for the “All Star Game” of the three-year period 1980-’82, race of which he was named MVP in 1981 – in which he averages 12.6 points and distributes 8.0 assists per game, with the pearl of a super performance at the “Boston Garden” dated February 5, 1982, in which he dispenses 23 assists to his teammates (his career high …) in the narrow success (145-144) over the Denver Nuggets, a match that represents the seal of an entire competitive activity, then concluded two years later with a parenthesis in the ranks of the Milwaukee Bucks boasting 876 regular season games with 16,841 points scored and 6,476 assists providedfor respective averages of 18.8 and 7.4 per game…

I wonder if it was inspired by “Tiny” Archibald, Antonello Venditti when he composed “What a fantastic story is life…”, perhaps we could ask him …

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