Life couldn’t have been easy for James Earl Ray (the basketball player) growing up with that name in the South in the 1960s. After all, that name is associated most often with the assassin of Martin Luther King, Jr. While I won’t exploit that coincidence, I won’t ignore it either. After being named the Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year, Ray was taken by the Denver Nuggets with the 5th overall pick in the 1980 NBA Draft. Unfortunately, he failed to live up to expectations and tallied only 334 points and 228 rebounds in 103 career games (i.e. 3.2 ppg and 2.2 rpg). As an underperforming high draft pick, James Ray begins the countdown of Top 10 NBA Draft Busts at #10 on the list.
Established in 1967, the ABA helped change professional basketball for the better before “merging” with the NBA in 1976. To name only a few positive developments resulting from the ABA:
– Players got paid more due to the competition for their services;
– Fans were treated to a faster paced game and the introduction of the 3-point shot; and
– The sport got stronger as superstars became ambassadors for the game.
At the same time, fans had to put up with questionable styles (such as the red, white and blue basketball), and players had to endure schemes to convince them to join the newer league. As described in the following post, Jim Chones was such a player who joined the ABA under unsavory circumstances.