In a league filled with superstars like LeBron, Kobe, Yao
and T-Mac, it is really easy to forget about some of the other players. I like
to think of myself as a basketball junkie that appreciates the players in the
league that dont get Sports
Center coverage or
endorsement deals. That is why I am surprised that in all my years following
the NBA, I have failed to recognize the talent of Lindsey Hunter.
I was sitting on my couch last week watching the
Spurs/Pistons game and I started noticing the things Hunter does on the floor
things that have kept him in the league for the past 15 years. He only played six
minutes, but in that short time, he was locking up Tony Parker, scrapping for
loose balls and taking it the ball hard to the rim. He was running around like
he was 22.
So, today I decided Im going to pay homage to the solid NBA
I know I may be opening myself up for some criticism for
dedicating a column on Lindsey Hunter. A guy who is averaging 2.1 points and
1.6 assists per game. Or a guy who has never been close to making an All Star
team. Or someone who is 37 years of age. But if you think about it, his career
is pretty amazing.
Drafted in the first round in the 93 Draft, he is the sole
member of that draft class still in the NBA. This is the same class that
included the likes of Chris Webber, Penny Hardaway, Allen Houston, Shawn
Bradley, Jamal Mashburn and J.R. Rider. I mean, thats 1993! Hes been playing
in the league since Karl Kanis were in and The
Chronic was the Number One album in the country and I was in junior high!
Only Shaq, Mutombo, Zo, Sam Cassell and Robert Horry have
more longevity than Hunter and most of those guys were All Star-caliber
players. As a back-up point guard the majority of his career, Hunter has kept
himself in the league with hard work, but most importantly, his ability to
Lindsey spent his first seven seasons in Detroit, where he
backed Isaiah Thomas the first few years and used his lightning quickness to
get his points and set up teammates. Near the end of his tenure with the Pistons,
he morphed into a three-point specialist where he canned 168 treys in 1999-00
season and hit another 152 the next season in Milwaukee.
After brief stints with the Lakers and Raptors, Lindsey
returned to the motor city, where he returned to playing point and providing
veteran leadership at the position. He also made himself an asset through his
scrappy defensive skills where he consistently ranks among the league best
for steals per 48 minutes. He has been a member of two championship teams with Detroit.
This year, Hunters numbers have not been great – he has
only appeared in 17 games and has spent several games on the inactive list. But
when his number has been called, he has provided a spark off the bench. He
showed in the San Antonio
game last Thursday that he is still gritty, savvy and has some quickness left
in him. No doubt, Detroit
is saving him for the postseason where he will be an important piece to their
run. And that is why he is still on that team.
Hes not one of those novelty guys who are only still
playing because of their past stardom and to help sell tickets. Hunter is there
because he can play, and he can still help the Pistons.