Remember this Guy: Todd MacCulloch

I’m getting married this summer. And one of the more trendy reception ideas is to name your tables. Instead of assigning each table a standard number, you name ‘em - name ‘em after your favorite songs, countries you visited, etc, etc. Now, I’ve tossed around the idea of naming the tables after Sixers coaches. Think it would be a great conversation piece for our guests:

"What table are you at, Jim?"

Looks like the Billy Cunningham table. What about you?

"Ah, I RSVP’d late. I’m stuck at the Eddie Jordan table."

Ouch. Tough break.

The fiancée is lukewarm to the idea. But I think she’s coming around.

Off we go.

Name: Todd MacCulloch

Born: January 27, 1976

College: Washington

Sixers Tenure: 1999-2001; 2002-2003

Nickname: Big Mac

Semi-Believable Dialogue from 1999:

"Todd McCulloch is Canadian?"

Yeah.

"Who was the last Canadian on the Sixers?"

Was Nimphius Canadian?

Perception

Todd MacCulloch didn’t exactly pass the eye test. He was disheveled, awkward. He looked like a regular guy from your high school – a kid who always had a half-eaten bag of Funyuns in his school bag. He was the guy who quoted Mad TV and wore jean shorts in winter. He enjoyed farting in a mailbox, or a sippy cup, or anything else with a lid. He dipped his pizza in ketchup.

"It’s all tomatoes anyway."

He played games on his TI-83 calculator. He loved biology, but hated chemistry. He bought every one of Weird Al’s CDs.

"He has really matured as an artist."

Todd MacCulloch looked like a guy whose yearbook profile was underwhelming.

Extracurricular Activities

Color Guard: 9th Grade.

Movie Club: 10th Grade.

Yearbook Quote: "Uh."

Again, this is all just speculation.

Reality

Sure, Todd MacCulloch wasn’t athletic. He didn’t run; he lumbered. He had less lateral quickness than one of King Koopa’s mushrooms. But he was serviceable. He took up space. He clogged the middle. Choose any euphemism for "big" you’d like. They say you can’t teach height or hands. Big Mac had both. He was all of 7'0" and 280 pounds, and his hands were soft, very soft, like two-week old bananas.

With the, ahem, ‘limitations’ of one Matt Geiger, MacCulloch was a breath of fresh air at the center position. Big Mac was very efficient. He retired with a career .541 field goal %. Personally, I never saw McCulloch miss. Now, he did miss. I’m not denying that. But I never saw it. In 2001-2002, he led the league in right-handed lay-ups by a Canadian 7’0" or taller. Kid tested. Bill Wennington approved.

What probably helped MacCulloch’s popularity were the modest expectations placed upon him. He was always deemed a ‘pleasant surprise.’ The 47th overall pick in the 1999 Draft, Todd was drafted around guys* like Tyrone Washington, J.R. Koch, Galen Young, and Venson Hamilton.

*Yeah, Manu Ginobili was drafted with the 57th pick, but that didn’t help my argument.

Biases say that Big Mac shouldn’t have been productive, but he was. It wasn’t pretty, but neither were those Pat Croce-era uniforms. Anytime McCulloch awkwardly finished around the rim, I did a double-take. And then puffed out my chest. I was a proud poppa.

In Game 3 of the 2001 Eastern Conference Finals against Milwaukee, the Sixers – without Iverson – trotted out one of the worst playoff line-ups in recent memory. The Bradley Center was rocking. The sky was ominous. Mom made Hamburger Helper.

It was my comfort food.

Three things stood out from that crap fest:

Aaron McKie took a lot of contested jump shots. Eric Snow was frighteningly bad, and Todd MacCulloch looked solid. To paraphrase a line from LB writers:

Big Mac scored ten points on four shots, which is really good.

(They probably would have said that a bit more eloquently, though).

I sometime wonder about the locker room dynamic of that Sixers team. Who did Big Mac hang out with? Did he play the license plate game with George Lynch on road trips? Did Iverson and MacCulloch talk? Did Big Mac follow Allen around the locker room, peppering him with questions like the annoying neighbor from Home Alone?

Allen…did you see Tommy Boy on TBS last night? What’s your favorite Slurpee flavor? Why do we drive on a parkway and park on a driveway? What’s Virginia like? Do you like Goldfish? What are your top-ten favorite goals scored by Pavel Bure? Allen? Allen? Allen?

Post Career

Todd McCulloch retired young due to a chronic foot injury. Afterwards – and this is surprisingly well-documented – he turned his sights towards to the International Flipper Pinball Association. Mostly a small man’s game (I made that up); McCulloch is tearing down barriers in the IFPA. He’s currently ranked #103 in the world, and from what my scouts in the field tell me, the kid has a great feel for the flippers.

RTG Trivia

In the last twenty-five years, the Sixers have employed three different centers from the University of Washington. One is our guest of honor. The second is a slam dunk – or a routine bounce pass after a backdoor cut anyway. And the third…is a bit more difficult.

Name this center.

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