Moving Forward

Karl Malone is the greatest power forward ever; he did everything on the court that you could ask of a power forward. Before he became the second highest scorer ever in the NBA, Malone played for Louisiana Tech University. Louisiana Tech is Power Forward University.

I don't care that Tim Duncan played next to David Robinson early in his career and it does not matter how many seven foot stiffs Greg Popovich runs out next to Duncan these days. Tim Duncan is not a power forward, he is a center. While Duncan does have the rings, he doesn't have near the impressive numbers that Malone put up over his career. In 2005, ESPN writers voted Duncan the best ever by a total of 101-98 over Malone. Charles Barkley had 71 votes in that poll and Kevin McHale had 65 votes.

Regardless of where Malone ranks all-time, he put Louisiana Tech on the map. Two other power forwards from Tech are making headlines of their own. In the conference semi-finals against the Lakers, Paul Millsap averaged 7.8 points and 4.3 rebounds off the bench. In the last game of the series, the second year player tried his hardest to save the Jazz, hitting on 6-7 shots for 15 points while pulling down 8 rebounds and blocking 3 shots in 24 minutes.

In the Eastern Conference semi-finals, P.J. Brown just keeps on rolling. Over his 15 year career, the third oldest current NBA player averaged 9.1 points and 7.7 rebounds. Brown signed with the Celtics late this season and played in their last 18 regular season games. Against the Cavaliers in the semi-finals, he averaged 3.9 points and 2.7 rebounds in 11.1 minutes. In the last game against Cleveland, Brown scored 10 points on 4-4 shooting and pulled down 6 rebounds in 20 minutes. His clutch jump shot late in the game helped clinch the series for the Celtics.

In between the time Malone and Brown were terrorizing the rim and their opponents in the Thomas Assembly Center, Randy White played power forward for the Bulldogs. White went on to play for the Dallas Mavericks from 1989 to 1994 and averaged 7.4 points and 4.9 rebounds over his career.

Antonio Meeking never got his chance in the NBA, although he led the NBDL in scoring one season before signing with a European team. Meeking was the final cut by the Milwaukee Bucks one year and was among the final cuts by the Bobcats a year later. In the 2005-2006 pre-season, the 6'9" 260 pound forward averaged 5.2 points and 4.4 rebounds in 5 pre-season games.

Before Malone, Mike Green won several awards while at Tech and went on to the NBA. Green still holds several Louisiana Tech records and played in the 1975 ABA All Star game. The 6'10 native of McComb, Mississippi played 3 seasons in the ABA for the Denver Rockets, the Denver Nuggets, and the Virginia Squires. From 1976 to 1980, Green played in the NBA where he averaged 8.4 points and 5.4 rebounds for the Sonics, Spurs, and Kings.

Jackie Moreland is perhaps the first great Louisiana Tech big man to make his mark in the NBA. Moreland played for the Detroit Pistons for 5 years and then played in New Orleans in the ABA for the final three years of his career. The 6'7" forward from Minden, LA averaged 13 points and 7 rebounds over his professional career. West was the fourth selection overall in the NBA drafts behind Jerry West, Oscar Robertson, and Darrall Imhoff. Other great big men have come through Louisiana Tech. Guys like Anthony "Bear" Dade, Victor King, Charlie Bishop, and Lanky Wells all made a name for themselves in the paint at Tech. King was drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers but never made it on the team. King's son, Bernard King, left Texas A&M as the all time leading scorer in the Big 12 conference. Bernard King plays in Europe currently, as does former Bulldog Antonio Meeking.

Malone, Brown, White, Millsap, Meeking, Moreland, and King are all from North Louisiana. Maybe there is something in the water here. When I asked Bernice, LA native and NBA Hall of Famer Willis Reed that question, he reminded me that NBA legend Bill Russell was born in Monroe, LA. We also talked about Robert Parish being from Shreveport, LA and Elvin Hayes being from Rayville, LA.

Reed, Parish, Hayes, Russell, and Malone are all Hall of Fame players and all were born near the Interstate 20 or Highway 167 corridor. Maybe there is something in the water after all and Louisiana Tech University is right in the middle of it.

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