By Brian Taylor
So far this year, the one team that’s been kicking arse and taking names is Dallas, who has made a move to solidify their average frontcourt with the NBA’s version of Dick Clark. This is a guy who I saw along with the Human Highlight Film in Atlanta twenty years ago in the playoffs against Larry Bird. He’s a testament to physical fitness and he’s gonna go for one more ring in Big D.
I’m talking about Willis, Kevin Willis.
Coming out of Michigan State in 1984, Kevin was a Dwight Howard type in a draft that had the likes of Barkely, Olajuwon and Jordan. Coming to the Atlanta Hawks, Willis joined Doc Rivers and a young ‘Nique to form the NBA’s newest high flying trio. These three guys lead ATL to the post season regularly and their most memorable battles came against the Bulls and Celtics in the mid to late 80’s. Dominique got all the highlight dunks and buckets, while Kevin did the dirty work on the glass and on the defensive end. Furthermore, Kevin was one of the first NBAer’s to really get into weight training to prepare for the rigors of the regular season, often training with bodybuilder Lee Haney. Remember, back then guys rarely lifted for size, for fear it would throw off their shot, but Kevin debunked those theories, and can still ball at the age of 44 as a result. If you’ve seen him destroy fools in TV’s Pros vs. Joes, you’d know what I’m talking about.
It was weird to hear that Dallas was going to bring him back for one last playoff run, but aside from his age, this is a pretty good move. Every championship squad has at least one old guy that’s been there, and Kevin brings those intangibles to a locker room. Aside from veteran leadership, the guy knows how to win, just ask the Spurs/Raps/Heat/Hawks or anyone he’s played for in the past. As a Hawk in 92’, Kevin played in his only All-Star game, averaging 18 points and 15 rebounds that year. In San Antonio, he got his only ring, but still came back to play for the love of the game.
When he signs with the Mavs, he’ll be the oldest guy ever to play in the League, which is an accomplishment in itself. Older than Parish (43) and older than the Captain (41), Willis will most definitely endure the “grandpa” jokes in the locker room, but the Mavs will be getting one of the league’s all time character guys.
Hit the links if you wanna see a 44-year-old baller who can still eat glass with the best of them.