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BF Number 18: Kevin Loughery

A little music to set the mood...

Alright, now that I've completely thrown off everything you expected, let me explain why you're listening to New York State of Mind (no relation to the blog of similar name).  Kevin Loughery was born in Brooklyn and raised in the Bronx, but when it came time to play college ball he decided to change paths and go to Boston College. After one year away from the Big Apple, Loughery decided he'd had enough of BC and came back home and went to St. John's university.  Loughery made enough of a name for himself there to be drafted in 1961 by you guessed it, the New York Knicks.  At the time, the NBA draft was a lot like the MLB draft is now with many rounds and many players not signing with the teams that drafted them.  In Loughery's case, the Knicks selected him in the 11th round as a junior and he decided to return for his senior season and improve his draft stock.  When the draft came around the next year he ended up going to the Detroit Pistons in the second round.

After a season and a game, Loughery was dealt to the Bullets where his game continued to develop.  Kevin's breakout year would be 1964-65 when he had his first of 9 seasons with a double digit scoring average.  He also added on a robust 3.7 assists per game.  Nowadays, 3.7 assists is a number you'd expect from someone like Caron Butler, but back in the day Loughery's 3.7 dimes per game was good enough for 9th in the league. (No really, look it up.  To put it in perspective, center Bill Russell was 5th with 5.3 per game.  This year Brad Miller led centers in assists with 3.6.  Who says the game of basketball hasn't changed?)

V for Victory?

Together with Gus Johnson and Walt Bellamy (and later on Wes Unseld), the Bullets formed a formidable team that would make the playoffs 5 of the next 7 years.  Once in the playoffs, Loughery's home would come back to haunt him as the Knicks would knock out Baltimore in both '69 and '70.  In 1971, the Bullets finally got over the hump, the highlight of their rivalry with the Knicks.  Sadly, Loughery's ultimate highlight with the Bullets would also be his last.  After being unceremoniously swept in the Finals by the Bucks, Loughery was then dealt to the Sixers 2 games into the '72 season where he would play the remainder of the season and retire.  Loughery would come back out of retirement the next season to take over as player-coach for the Sixers who at the time of his hire were 4-47.  Loughery's presence must have accounted for something as he lifted Philly to a more respectable 5-26 for the rest of the season.  His brief stint as coach with the Sixers spurred him on to the coaching circuit where he would end up coaching 5 more teams, including the Bullets from 1986 to '88.  Sadly, he never reached the same level of ability in his coaching career that he did as a player.  Thankfully, this is the Bullets Forever top 20, not the Red Auerbach Forever Top 20.  If you want to catch Kevin Loughery today, you may want to catch a lacrosse game in Chicago.