I recently judged the Sprite Slam Dunk Showdown. And despite talking a big game - "I don't hand out 10s to just anybody " - I handed out 10s to just about everybody. Such a pushover. I'm the Randy Jackson of amateur dunk contests.
Off we go.
"This is basketball," [Sixers owner] Katz said. "We're not bringing in people who are studying for the priesthood. Dumas has the potential to be a great player. Maxwell is a major talent. I would have a problem if we just continually added people we might have problems with." Chicago Tribune; Oct 10, 1995
Name: Richard Dumas
College: Oklahoma St
Sixers Tenure: 1995-1996
Legitimate Dialogue from 1995: "He's Dr. J with a jump shot." - John Lucas
Semi-Believable Dialogue from 1996:
"What happened to your pinky, Don?"
Made an offering to Lucy.
"Jesus Christ, Don. That's a lot of blood."
It's almost a relief that the John Lucas Years happened pre-Twitter. Between the 140 character shackles and the overused punch lines, 1995 Sixers Twitter would've been a smorgasbord of #Tank4Iverson hash tags and coke jokes. And not to mention that the Sixers' paint was patrolled by a 7'6" center, who didn't play college basketball for two years. Just your standard Sixers fare in 1995.
Despite the cast of characters and oddities (Not those Oddities), the Sixers finished 28th in the league in attendance. Were the Lucas Years a circus? Sure. But not a Ringling Brothers circus. More like one of those traveling caravans where the main attraction wasn't a bearded lady - just a woman with a five o'clock shadow. Shawn Bradley, naturally, was the scruffy lady in this analogy.
"How's this Bradley kid look?"
Eh, he's no Bol.
The Lucas Era was an experiment not in rebuilding, but in reclamation - the Ellis Island of Misfit Toys. Send us your weak, your disruptive, your paper-thin, your recovering addicts. The Sixers were both a social experiment and an after school program. If Ashton Kutcher couldn't host this show, then the next call should've been to Dr. Drew's agent.
Lloyd Daniels was arrested at UNLV for buying crack cocaine from an undercover cop. Vernon Maxwell was, well, Vernon Maxwell. Our coach called our first round pick, "Sharon." Derrick Coleman, acquired in a trade from New Jersey, wasn't really a bad guy in the legal sense, but he certainly didn't care for practice, most coaches, or enjoy the powerful feeling of a well-tailored suit coat.
And then there was Richard Dumas. Now, I'll excuse you if you don't remember Richard Dumas, or only recall his Phoenix Suns days. Admittedly, there are times when I mistaken Dumas for Greg Buckner, because every Sixers small forward is Greg Buckner in some sense. Hell, we're all Greg Buckner in some sense.
Richard Dumas has wrestled with some inner demons his entire life. According to a Yahoo's Ball Don't Lie post, Dumas tried alcohol at age 5 and marijuana at age 9. He got interested in cocaine during his teenage years, thanks in part to Nancy Reagan's "Just Say No" campaign.
Dumas had a promising career at Oklahoma St, before being expelled for drug use. He played in Israel for a couple of seasons, was then drafted by the Suns in ‘91, but failed another drug test before arriving in training camp. Dumas was reinstated the following year and enjoyed a solid rookie season - highlighted by Game 5 of the '93 NBA Finals. Dumas dropped 25 on the Bulls on 12-14 shooting and helped the Suns stave off elimination.
After yet another trip to rehab, Dumas landed in Philly before the '95-'96 season. He played just 39 games for the Sixers, a memorable stint which falls somewhere between The Joe Buck Show and Sega Saturn in my life's biggest influences.
By New Year's Day, the Sixers had already employed an astronomical twenty players. Not able to match quality with other Eastern Conference rosters, the Sixers tried to beat ‘em with quantity. The Sixers went four lines deep, with the Craig MacTavish/Derrick Alston/LaSalle Thompson line registering a team best -12 plus/minus.
Lucas admits to not understanding Dumas' lethargy. After twice violating the NBA's antidrug policy while playing for Phoenix, Dumas was out of basketball when Lucas signed him. Lucas since has spent time trying to ignite a spark where he has rarely seen one.
"I told Richard this was the last house on the block,'' Lucas said. "I told him, `Richard, if you can't play for me, you can't play for anybody.' ''
The signing of Dumas might've been lauded here at LB. It was a low-risk, high-reward lottery ticket that could've paid huge dividends. But it didn't, and that's ok. Richard Dumas is clean now, and the Sixers once again have bottomed out. Both parties are in a great place.
So today, let's remember Richard Dumas and the '95-'96 Sixers. They only won 18 games that year.
If only next year's team could be so lucky.