Editor's Note: The following was written by ledellforlife as part of our Summer Project. Previously, Truthaboutit remembered flash in the pan Robert Pack and hotplate discussed prototypical backup center Jim McIlvaine. -PM
For specific Ledell stories (of which there are many) I refer you to the links with Truthaboutit helpfully supplied. We Rite Goode has an especially funny remembrance of this especially mediocre player. Unfortunately, this will read less as an analysis of Mr. Eackles’ game, and more as a virulent screed against his character and basketball prowess.
There is a certain insouciance that Bullets fans possess towards old Bullets. The Celtics may have their banners; the Lakers had Showtime, but the Bullets blazed a new trail by pairing a really tall guy with a really short guy. Needless to say, what the team lacked in competitiveness, it made up for in sheer comedy value. The pratfalls of the organization have been portrayed with hilarious results by sites such as Wizznutzz, and to a lesser degree the more serious minded citizens of Bullets Forever. As we look back on the Dark Ages of the late 1980s and early 1990s, it is hard to not smile when recalling the basketball stylings of a Pervis Ellison or Tom Hammonds. However, despite these happy memories, a miserable cloud also hangs over this timeline, and that cloud’s name is Ledell Eackles.
If you weren’t a Redskin fan in the 1980s, growing up a sports fan in the District was a difficult proposition. Every year I had to face the prospect of Sports Illustrated either ranking the Bullets or Orioles among the lower echelon of their respective leagues or deriding each organization’s chances of making an impact in the playoffs. Tearfully, I would write the publication and defend the hitting of Joe Orsulak, and the fine low post play of Bernard King. As irrational as it was, defending the indefensible (with the exception of Bernard) became my obsession. Harvey Grant was the better brother; Charles Jones was a savvy vet, the list was endless.
Ledell was different in that he finally removed the red and blue colored glasses from my eyes. For here was a Bullet who was truly unlovable; a fat guard that shot the ball at a rate that boggled the mind. Kevin Duckworth and John Williams may have been fat, but fat centers were not unheard of in the NBA. Muggsy Bogues was short, but he could be considered an evolutionary dead end as teams continued to move towards bigger "hybrid" guards. Ledell Eackles was rotund; at a position where svelteness was recommended.
But what truly boggled the mind with Ledell Eackles was the complete lack of conscience in regards to shooting the basketball. Ledell would jack it up from all angles, regardless of situation or defense. He had a career 3PT% of .334. Furthermore, he never got to the line. The picture included above perhaps best encapsulates Ledell in the wild, plowing through multiple defenders on the way to hoisting up another ill advised jumpshot. Suffering through another 3-15 performance against the Bulls, I would find myself screaming at the television asking why anyone would allow such a no talent hack become the crunch time scorer for a professional basketball team.
The answer came many years later while writing this article. My early Bullets knowledge had become a bit blurry, but I was stunned to find that the starting five for the Bullets on several occasions was the following murderer’s row: Michael Adams, Larry Stewart, Tom Hammonds, Charles Jones and David Wingate. I knew the Bullets had been terrible, but the quality of that starting lineup, nicely underscores the dire straights the organization was in at the beginning of the 1990s. Ledell bleeping Eackles, that stupid fat guard, WAS our best option. "No Your roll," indeed.
So Ledell, I forgive you, have a hotdog on me.