When one thinks about the legendary programs in college basketball, a few names come to mind. Duke, Kentucky, Kansas, North Carolina. You know, the usual suspects. I'm not even going to pretend that Nebraska belongs on that list. Like, not even close.
Not even the staunchest Nebrasketball fan could say with a straight face that their school has a strong basketball pedigree. That's okay. Let's turn those lemons into lemonade, and reflect on Nebraska's contributions to the NBA today.
*logs onto basketball-reference.com*
*sees that no one from Nebraska is an active NBA player*
Ok, we gave that our best shot. Never fear, I bet Nebraska has had some impressive past NBA players, right?
*logs back onto basketball-reference.com*
*sees that Tyronn Lue, Mikki Moore, and Eric Piatkowski are the best players in Nebraska history*
This will be harder than I thought. But hey, who doesn't want to read about those three legends? I know I would.
Legend #1: Tyronn Lue
After averaging 21 points in his senior year in Lincoln, Lue was the 23rd pick in the 1998 NBA Draft. Not bad, right? See, Nebraska can produce some pros!
He burst onto the scene because of his role on the 2000-01 NBA Champion Los Angeles Lakers. He averaged 8.7 minutes a game off the bench and provided some useful backcourt depth. But here's the real reason why he's ingrained in all NBA fans' memories.
Beautiful. That's one of the fondest moments of my young basketball career, and it's all thanks to Nebraska basketball. Let's see that one more time.
He bopped around the NBA throughout the mid-2000s, and earned significant minutes on the Wizards, Magic, Hawks, and Rockets. Currently, he's an assistant for the LA Clippers, and could find himself as a head coach one of these days. Good on you, Tyronn Lue.
Legend #2: Mikki Moore
A true journeyman, Moore spent 13 years in the NBA after going undrafted in the 1997 NBA Draft. He's a manifestation of how the NBA D-League can help elongate players' careers. He was drafted #1 in the 2002 NBA D-League Draft, and then was one of the best players in the D-League that year. He was on the All NBA D-League First Team and was the D-League Defensive Player of the Year for the 2002-03 season. Take that, Kentucky!!!
The "Leadership, Awards, and Honors" section on his Basketball-Reference page is hilarious. He LED THE ENTIRE NBA in games played during the 2007-08 season with 82. I don't care how unimpressive that stat actually is. Mikki Moore led the NBA in a statistical category, and no one can take that away from him.
But wait, he also LED THE ENTIRE NBA in personal fouls during the 07-08 season with 310!!!! He's just shattering records with his performance that season. Sacramento Kings fans will tell their grandchildren about Mikki Moore's performance that year. What a man.
Legend #3: Eric Piatkowski
Wait OMG look at his B-R page. Some Nebraska fan sponsored his player page as a WEDDING PRESENT. Here's what it says:
A Wedding Present for a Huskers Hoops Fan!
Congratulations, Jon and Abby! May your marriage last longer than the Polish Rifle's NBA career (but as long as his career lives in our hearts). Not starting your marriage with the LA Clippers will help.
That's amazing. If that's not true love, then I don't know what is. Congrats, Jon and Abby, from all of us at BTP. If you appreciate an Eric Piatkowski reference, then you'll be the perfect couple. By the way, I'd like all of my future wedding presents to be sponsorships on assorted Basketball-Reference pages. Preferably Tony Wroten, Rony Seikaly, and Kendrick Perkins.
The Polish Rifle had a fine NBA career as a sharpshooter from three. He averaged 39% from behind the line for his carer, and was third in the league in 2001-02 with 46.6% from outside. Besides shooting, he didn't do much else in the NBA. But we still love him.
That was a thrilling walk down memory lane. Maybe Terran Petteway or Shavon Shields will have a solid NBA career so we don't have to keep pretending like these guys are actually good.