Wednesday, May 11, 2011

R.I.P. Robert Traylor

Sad news today from the world of basketball where 34-year-old Robert Traylor -- a 1998 first-round pick who played seven seasons in the NBA -- was found dead in his apartment in Puerto Rico.

Traylor hadn't played in the NBA since 2005, after failing a physical with the Nets, but had continued his career overseas. He also had a tryout with the Lakers at one point and played with the Cavaliers summer league team in 2008. At that time, he was in the best shape he'd shown in years -- though no one was going to mistake him for Dwight Howard -- and I really thought he'd get back into the NBA at that point. He didn't make the Cavaliers roster, and never really got another shot with an NBA team, spending the last few seasons with teams in Turkey, Italy and Puerto Rico.

In NBA circles, Traylor's name is always going to be linked with one of the worst trades in NBA history, when he was swapped on draft day for Dirk Nowitzki. He was also one of the major figures in the Ed Martin scandal, which forced Michigan to vacate multiple seasons worth of wins and remove Traylor's MVP performance in the 1997 NIT from the record books. Personally, though, I always had a soft spot for Traylor. I love big guys, and Traylor was among the biggest -- though in the end that seemed to have big a major part of his early demise.

Rather than focus on that, let's enjoy the highlight of his career: when he shattered the backboard while playing at Michigan.

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