“What happened to all the big white stiffs?”
That’s the question I’ve asked myself numerous times while watching this seasons NBA Playoffs. Those big, lumbering, talentless goofs who were a fixture of NBA benches throughout history are quickly going the way of the dinosaurs and Bruce Jenner. Who are we left with? Cole Aldrich? The least talented Plumlee brother? The least talented Zeller brother? So what happened?
I was 9 when I realised a persons height had no bearing on their ability to play basketball after being amazed that 7-7 Manute Bol didn’t dominate the league. For some reason it took NBA owners, GM’s and executives a great deal longer to have the same epiphany. Since the early days of dominant centers like Mikan, Chamberlain, Russell, Walton, Malone and Abdul-Jabbar through to Olajuwon, Ewing, Robinson, Shaq, Mourning and Duncan the consensus was that bigger was better. This desire for size led to Bowie over Jordan, Pervis Ellison being drafted #1 overall in 1989 and a whole lot of other questionable decisions right up to Oden over Durant in 2007. Some Big White Stiffs were drafted as potential star players before completely failing, while some were drafted for no other reason than their size to go against the leagues premier centers, their ability to take up space and to catch a basketball 50% of the time it was thrown to them. When the league started evolving and being dominated by smaller, mid-sized players the writing was on the wall for the Big White Stiffs. As teams tried to combat Jordan, Kobe, Wade, LeBron, Durant and Curry among others, they loaded their benches with wing defenders and 3-and-D specialists. Today, teams draft big-men based on their mobility and 3-point shooting. Hell, the center position has been completely removed from All-Star ballots, instead asking us to vote for 3 ‘Frontcourt’ players.
So, until Joel Embiid becomes the greatest center in history and single-handedly ushers in a new wave of Big White Stiffs, The Dunkyard is immortalising the Top 10 Big White Stiffs in NBA history, sort of a ‘Big White Stiff Hall of Fame’ if you will, to remember the cult-heroes, the bench-warmers and the big un-coordinated crackers who sat patiently waiting to take the court to bang bodies in the post, use up their 6 fouls and try not to fuck up. This list has more white assholes than an anal bleaching salon.
To qualify, a player had to be 3 things:
- BIG – For the purposes of this list I settled on a minimum height of 6-10, it’s a height where players are sufficiently tall enough to be coveted for nothing more than their size. Unfortunately, this eliminates Ed Nealy, Kurt Rambis, Mark Madsen, Brian Scalabrine, Matt Bonner and other shorter players. We might need to do a Mid-size White Stiff column in the future!
- WHITE – Pretty self explanatory. Again, one could easily do a Big Black Stiff column featuring Duane Causwell, Yinka Dare, Hasheem Thabeet, Desagna Diop, Priest Lauderdale and the Collins brothers Jason & Jarron, but they’re called Big WHITE Stiffs for a reason.
- STIFF – A number of factors were looked at here: players were eliminated due to double figure scoring seasons (Danny Schayes, Randy Breuer), high PER (Todd McCullough, Will Perdue, Scott Pollard), were career starters (Eric Montross, Jim McIlvaine) or who were coveted for 3-point shooting (Matt Bullard, Brad Lohaus). Career longevity was also looked at – being a Big White Stiff for 8+ seasons was looked at more favourably then lasting for 2-3.
Let’s get started:
Stojko Vrankovic – 7-2 260; 5 seasons (170 games, 73 started)
Career Averages: 2.8ppg, 3.0rpg, 12.1mpg, 9.7 PER
Despite only lasting 5 seasons in the NBA (BOS, MIN, LAC) when your Basketball Reference page lists your nickname as ‘The Human Victory Cigar’ you make the honourable mentions. With all of his career highlights happening in Europe, we will remember NBA Stojko for blocking a few shots and an uncanny resemblance to Mr Bean.
Jack Haley – 6-10 240; 9 seasons (341 games, 54 started)
Career Averages: 3.5ppg, 2.7rpg, 9.6mpg, 9.7 PER
Haley is probably best known as being Dennis Rodman’s babysitter during his time with San Antonio and Chicago. On the plus side his babysitting duty collected him a championship ring with the 1995-96 72-10 Chicago Bulls despite only appearing in 1 game for the season. Haley passed away in 2015 at the age of 51.
Eric Leckner – 6-11 265; 8 seasons (449 games, 60 started)
Career Averages: 4.1ppg, 3.2rpg, 12.1mpg, 9.8 PER
A six team journeyman throughout his career, Leckner’s best season was in 1993-94 with Philadelphia as he averaged 5-4 while starting 36 of his 71 games. Here’s video of him dunking on no other than Shawn Kemp and some “highlights” of his time with Charlotte (make sure you have the volume up on that one).
Jon Koncak – 7-0 250; 11 seasons (784 games 379 started)
Career Averages: 4.5ppg, 4.9rpg, 20.9mpg, 9.8 PER
Drafted 5th overall(!) in 1985 “Jon Contract” might best be remembered for the ludicrous 6-yr $13m contract he signed with the Atlanta Hawks in 1989 that made him one of the highest paid players in the league. He then repaid them with 3.6ppg and 4.3rpg over those six years. Ewww. Had he not started almost half of his career games he would have sneaked into the Top 10. Here’s some of Jon’s best work being faked out by the GOAT.
Uwe Blab – 7-1 252; 5 seasons (235 games, 34 started)
Career Averages: 2.1ppg, 1.8rpg, 8.4mpg, 6.6 PER
If you asked Dirk Nowitzki who his German basketball idols were while growing up I would bet my left testicle that he would not mention Uwe Blab. He did as much for the reputation of international players as United Airlines did for airline customer service. Had Blab lasted another 3-4 seasons he would have catapulted into the Top 10. Here he is being made to look foolish by Larry Legend.
The Top 10 Big White Stiffs in NBA History
10. Dwayne Schintzius – 7-1 260; 8 seasons (217 games, 33 started)
Career Averages: 2.7ppg, 2.5rpg, 9.0mpg, 9.4 PER
As one of my personal cult heroes I lobbied myself to place Schintzius higher on this list before deciding journalistic integrity was more important, though I would challenge anybody to look at those stats, his career 40.4 FG%, his world class mullet (which he allegedly mailed to Spurs GM Bob Bass after he asked him to shave it off) and the following highlight video and tell me he doesn’t deserve a spot in the Top 10.
9. Bill Wennington – 7-0 245; 13 seasons (720 games, 88 started)
Career Averages: 4.6ppg, 3.0rpg, 13.5mpg, 10.9 PER
Bill Wennington is probably the most well known Big White Stiff on this list thanks to his time with the mid-90’s Chicago Bulls. A 3-time championship winner, Bill combined with Luc Longley & Will Perdue to form perhaps the biggest three-headed Big White Stiff monster in history. A PER approaching respectability and the following dunking highlights prevented him from going any higher on this list.
8. Joe Kleine – 6-11 255; 15 seasons (965 games, 204 started)
Career Averages: 4.8ppg, 4.1rpg, 15.2mpg, 10.5 PER
Big Joe was selected 6th overall in the, yep you guessed it, 1985 draft immediately after Jon Koncak, proving that NBA GM’s were clearly struggling with the glory days of America’s cocaine epidemic. Despite a serviceable and career best 9.8ppg & 7.1rpg for the 1987-88 Sacramento Kings, Kleine makes the list due to lasting 15 seasons (15!!!), his final 10 seasons being Top-5 worthy and somehow convincing Portland to pay him $510,000 to appear in 7 games at age 38. He’s also the only Top-10 stiff to have an Olympic gold medal. Bravo Joe, you deserve a warm round of applause from the crowd:
7. Greg Foster – 6-11 240; 13 seasons (656 games, 95 started)
Career Averages: 3.9ppg, 2.6rpg, 12.2mpg, 8.9 PER
As I was researching this column I knew there would be a Top-10 Cinderella-story I wasn’t expecting, I just didn’t figure it would be Greg Foster. Most recognisable from Utah’s back-to-back 1997-1998 NBA Finals campaigns Foster played 13 seasons with 9 teams while providing very little impact on a basketball court. A career 40% shooter Utah even decided to start him for 49 of his 76 games during the 1997-98 season and reaped the rewards of a 5.7ppg 3.5rpg career year. He gained a reputation (completely unwarranted) as being able to defend Shaquille O’Neal, which tricked more than 1 team in offering him a contract while Shaq was still in his prime – here he is trying to stick his thumb up Shaq’s butthole.
6. Scott Hastings – 6-10 235; 11 seasons (578 games, 19 started)
Career Averages: 2.8ppg, 2.2rpg, 10.4mpg, 9.2 PER
This isn’t the only list you might find Hastings making an appearance. Thanks to his 12th man role on the 1989-90 Detroit Pistons you should also find him on any ‘Worst Players to Win an NBA Championship’ list that you can find. His best season came in Miami Heat’s inaugural 1988-89 expansion season where he averaged 5.1ppg and 3.1rpg in 75 games (apparently Miami saw something special as he produced 2.0ppg and 1.8rpg for Atlanta the previous season and snapped him up with the 7th pick of the expansion draft). I scoured YouTube for longer than I’d like to admit for any playing highlights before admitting defeat, however I did find a website where you can compare Hastings to other NBA players….so it wasn’t a total loss.
5. Joe Wolf – 6-11 230; 11 seasons (592 games, 127 started)
Career Averages: 4.2ppg, 3.3rpg, 16.3mpg, 7.8 PER
Joe Wolf can’t say he wasn’t given a chance to succeed in the NBA as he averaged 21.2mpg over his first 4 seasons with LAC and DEN before being banished to the bench for the rest of his career. With the highest mpg average on this list his horrible 7.8 career PER and 42.3% shooting highlights just how bad Joe was when he took the court. If you don’t believe me I present to you the following tribute song.
4. Paul Mokeski – 7-0 250; 12 seasons (694 games, 38 started)
Career Averages: 4.0ppg, 3.4rpg, 14.0mpg, 8.9 PER
Mokeski is still a cult hero with Milwaukee Bucks fans, where he spent 6.5 seasons, and former ESPN columnist Bill Simmons who created “The Mokeski Award” that he annually bestows upon the league’s best white American player (recently dominated by Kevin Love). Don’t let that cloud your judgement though, Big Mo was never the best anything during his career with the possible exception of being the best at growing a terrible moustache. Thankfully, somebody has produced a 4 minute mix tape of Mokeski highlights for our enjoyment.
3. Greg Dreiling – 7-1 250; 10 seasons (474 games, 94 started)
Career Averages: 2.1ppg, 2.1rpg, 8.9mpg, 7.4 PER
I find it almost laughable that NBA teams in the 80’s & 90’s would rather put players like Greg Dreiling on the end of their benches rather than try to develop a young player or international prospect, but such is the mystique of the Big White Stiff. Dreiling had no discernible skills to speak of and played so rarely that team trainers would routinely need to check the backs of his legs for splinters. It’s inexplicable that he lasted 10 seasons.
2. Greg Kite – 6-11 250; 12 seasons (680 games, 225 started)
Career Averages: 2.5ppg, 3.8rpg, 14.8mpg, 6.5 PER
The competition between Kite (a 2x NBA champion with the 84′ and 86′ Celtics) and Dreiling for the No. 2 spot on the list was hotly contested however in the end Greg Kite reigned supreme thanks to his two extra seasons, the worst PER of any player listed in this column and a career 6.1 points-per-36mins scoring average. My favourite Greg Kite story comes from his Orlando Magic days when he publically criticised the team for their contract offer after Orlando had just drafted and signed Shaquille O’Neal. Orlando must have felt like an African orphan who had been selected for adoption by Madonna and have Malawi villagers attempt to convince them life would be better with them. It took a special player to deny this man No. 1.
1. Chuck Nevitt – 7-5 217; 9 seasons (155 games, 0 started)
Career Averages: 1.6ppg, 1.5rpg, 5.3mpg, 9.1 PER
We made it! Ladies & Gentlemen, I present to you the greatest Big White Stiff in NBA history, Charles Goodrich Nevitt. During his nine seasons he appeared in only 155 games and played a total of 826 minutes – that equates to just over 17 complete games of NBA basketball. He was waived 11 times throughout his career but played with (or rather didn’t play with) Kareem, Magic, Elvin Hayes, Calvin Murphy, Isiah Thomas, Hakeem, Jordan and David Robinson.
If you watch any playoff games featuring the 1985 Lakers, where he received a well earned championship ring, Detroit between 1986-88 or the 1989 Houston Rockets you will see Nevitt, still dressed in his warmups, cheering on his teammates, high-fiving ball boys, listening to every word spoken during time-outs and occasionally participating in Mexican waves. A small part of you always hoped for a blowout so that you might see a few brief moments of Big White Stiff greatness. Apologies to Stojko Vrankovic and Darko Milicic but Chuck Nevitt was the original ‘Human Victory Cigar’.
In 1984, after failing to land on an NBA team, he sent out publicity brochures of himself displaying a picture of him blocking the shot of 7-4 Ralph Sampson during their college days on the cover. While a member of the Pistons a local Detroit pizza place would send 12 pizzas to a soup kitchen for every shot he blocked – the homeless went hungry a lot during those times my friends. Find a Trivial Pursuit game old enough and he is the answer to two questions: “How many inches above seven feet is Chuck Nevitt?” and “Who is the tallest player in the NBA?”. During road games he always received the loudest applause from the opposing home team fans (if that doesn’t impress you check out the list of names he played with again).
The greatest disappointment of his career may be the fact that neither Charlotte or Miami took a chance on Chuck during the 1988 expansion draft. Had they done so we may have been treated to him starting games, playing extended minutes and producing Big White Stiff moments that we could only dream of. It’s the third greatest tragedy in NBA history behind Len Bias and Reggie Lewis….but he’s still the greatest Big White Stiff in NBA history.