Fifty Fun NBA Facts
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1. Charlie Villanueva has three older brothers, all named Robert after their father.
2. Charles Barkley missed the opening game of the 1994-1995 NBA season due to an eye injury he sustained attending an Eric Clapton concert a few days previously. Barkley rubbed his eyes after looking into the stage lights, and the hand lotion he was using burned the first layer of his corneas.
3. As a 15-year-old Dinka tribesman, Manute Bol killed a lion that had been threatening his village with a spear while it was sleeping.
4. The first non-Caucasian player to set foot on an NBA court was Wataru "Wat" Misaka, a Japanese-American from Utah. The 5'7" was selected in the first round of the 1947 NBA draft by the New York Knicks, scoring seven points in three games before being cut.
5. Dikembe Mutombo Mpolondo Mukamba Jean-Jacques Wamutombo (known simply as “Dikembe Mutombo” to most) speaks seven languages fluently.
6. He was given the name "Dikembe", which means "banana", because his family thought he was "soft" as an infant.
7. Kevin Garnett’s mother was a Jehovah’s Witness, and as such he was nineteen before he celebrated his first Christmas and Hallowe’en.
8. Hakeem Olajuwon auctioned his first NBA championship ring due to his Muslim faith, which forbids men to wear gold. On winning another championship the following season, the Houston Rockets made his second ring out of platinum.
9. Dennis Rodman didn't play a second of high school basketball, and was only 5'11" when he graduated. He grew eight more inches by the time he was twenty, at which point he quit his job working nights as a janitor at the Dallas-Forth Worth airport to play basketball at Cooke County Junior College.
10. Shortly after being named the NBA's player of the week during the 1990-1991 season, Lionel "L-Train" Simmons missed two games due to tendonitis after playing his Nintendo Game Boy for too long. The next season Derrick McKey missed seven games for the same reason.
11. The man known as “Ray Allen” is, in fact, named “Walter Ray Allen”.
12. Spencer Haywood, whose Supreme Court battled paved the way for early-entry NBA players, circumcised himself as a teenager. Later he married and divorced model Iman, who has been married to David Bowie since 1992.
13. Scott Skiles briefly served time in jail after violating the terms of his parole related to a charge of marijuana possession. Skiles had entered a guilty plea to the aforementioned charge in order to avoid being convicted of felony cocaine possession.
14. In the Stop Snitchin' DVD, Carmelo Anthony mentions that he threw his bronze medal from the 2004 Olympic games into a lake.
15. As a child, Chris Paul was reprimanded with a paddle that had “Board of Corrections” written on one side and “Victim Sign Here” on the other.
16. Pau Gasol enrolled in medical school before signing his first professional basketball contract.
17. As a child, Shaq fell from a tree while imitating Spider-Man and fractured both of his wrists.
18. As a high school senior, LeBron attended the adidas ABCD Camp wearing Nike sneakers. At the Nike All-American Camp, he wore adidas.
19. Kobe met his future wife, the then-seventeen-year-old Vanessa Laine, at the video shoot for “G’d Up” by Tha Eastsidaz while recording his ill-fated album in the same building.
20. Jason Williams started alongside Randy Moss on his high school basketball and football teams.
21. Bonzi Wells’ real first name is Gawen, which he shares with both his father and his son.
22. Richard “Rip” Hamilton inherited his nickname from his father, who used to rip his diapers as a baby.
23. Playing as teammates on an AAU squad, Ron Artest and Elton Brand once had a fight during the warm-ups.
24. It’s common knowledge that Tim Duncan was once an excellent swimmer. It’s also fairly well known that he made the transition to basketball after Hurricane Hugo destroyed his local pool. What few know, however, is that Tim quit after his team moved their training sessions to the ocean due to his mortal fear of sharks.
25. Jason Williams has a tattoo in Japanese characters which translates roughly as “F*ck y’all.” He was ordered to cover it with a wristband while playing pre-season exhibition games in Japan.
26. Carmelo Anthony was once given detention in grade school for introducing himself to his teachers and classmates as “Tyrone”. He claimed that the other children were unable to pronounce his real name.
27. The Baltimore neighbourhood in which Carmelo Anthony grew up was used as the setting for television series “The Wire”.
28. Dwight Howard’s family refer to him as the “Miracle Child” as his mother miscarried seven times before he was born.
29. Popeye Jones’ real name is Ronald.
30. John Starks attended four colleges in four years before going undrafted.
31. Kobe Bryant adopted the number eight as it was the total of the digits on the jersey he wore at the ABCD camp (143). He wore his current jersey number, twenty-four, in his freshman year of high school before switching to thirty-three as a sophomore.
32. Darvin Ham’s mother was the mayor of Saginaw, Michigan. She was recently acquitted of insurance fraud charges after her car was found torched.
33. Drew Gooden’s mother is Finnish.
34. Josh Howard’s legs were so severely bowed as an infant that he underwent a procedure in which they were broken and reset so that they could grow straight.
35. Gilbert Arenas’ father once had bit parts in the television shows Miami Vice and Days of Our Lives. He also modelled for Sears and JC Penney and appeared in commercials for Tostitos and Pepcid AC. He coached his son in a park league before Gilbert quit and joined another team which offered him more playing time. In their first encounter, little Gil scored fifteen on his father’s team.
36. Kobe Bryant’s middle name is “Bean”.
37. Kevin Garnett’s wife is sister to the wife of Jimmy Jam.
38. Ron Artest held the press conference to announce his declaration for the NBA draft in the Queensbridge Community Center.
39. Mike Bibby and Eddie House are brothers-in-law.
40. Kwame Brown has a daughter named “Kwameeri”.
41. Rasheed Wallace has a daughter named “Rashiyah”.
42. Rasheed Wallace had his championship ring altered so that it would fit his middle finger.
43. Ray Allen once dunked the ball in his own hoop following the tip-off as a high school senior.
44. Chauncey Billups was commended for his heartfelt apology letter to the student body at the University of Colorado. The reason for it? He’d stolen video rental coupons from the campus bookstore.
45. Vince Carter was a drum major in his high school band and was offered a music scholarship to Bethune-Cookman.
46. A local TV station organised a game of one-on-one against Michael Jordan for the then-high school senior Michael Finley. When Phil Jackson heard about it, he requested that it be changed to a game of H-O-R-S-E. Jordan won and challenged Finley to game of one-on-one, beating him 3-1.
47. Contrary to what is often found in official media guides, Ronald “Flip” Murray was given his nickname by a friend who claimed that he was as dark-skinned as Bernie Mac’s character in the movie Above the Rim.
48. Tayshaun Prince was born in Compton.
49. Vladimir Radmanovic has twice played the part of the grandfather in the party scene of the famed ballet The Nutcracker.
50. Moochie Norris’ real first name is Martyn. His nickname came from Cab Calloway’s “Minnie the Moocher”, his grandfather’s favourite song.