Joe "the Destroyer" Hammond, the Rucker legend could have been a Los Angeles Laker in 1971 but turned the team down?
My question is, had he accepted the Lakers offer, how many titles would the Lakers have as a franchise; where would Joe Hammond rank among all-time Laker greats, etc, etc, etc.
For those of you who don't know Joe Hammond was a 6'4 SG that never played h.s. or college ball yet consistently dominated at Rucker no matter what the competition was. His career scoring average at Rucker was just over 50 ppg! He is considered the greatest Rucker player ever by most and even Kareem has said the kid belonged in the NBA undoubtedly. He once dropped 40+ in a half [corr: scored 50 after strolling into the game randomly, against three pro-ballers] against a squad led by Dr. J, who by the way also admits Joe should have been in the NBA. Many NBA players were said to have visited NYC baller hot spots, asked the door man if Joe was inside and if he replied no, they stayed to ball, if he replied yes they simply drove on not wanting to get embarrassed. Cazzie Russel, a lock down NBA defender once came to Rucker looking to show Joe up ... he got lit up by the Destroyer for 40+ and left in a huff, never to return for a rematch.
In 1971 his legend had spread so far that the Lakers invited him in for a tryout. After a shooting session that saw Joe make 32 jumpers in a row the Lakers had him play 1-on-1 against Laker Pat Riley, a 26 year old, 4 year veteran and Kentucky grad who had just played his first year on the Lakers and averaged 21 points and 5.5 assists per 40 mins. Joe killed him, just murdered him and it wasn't even close.
The Lakers immediately offered Joe Hammond a $50,000 one year contract (this was approx. 43% higher than the average NBA contract at that time and would therefore be ehttp://www.clublakers.com/posting.php? ... #quivalent to the Lakers offering a current street baller with no h.s. or college experience a $7mil 1 year deal). Joe demanded a 3 year, guarenteed no-cut deal. The Lakers couldn't comprehend how a street baller could play hard-ball in negotiations with them (they had no idea Joe made much, much more than $50k a year selling drugs and shooting craps on the street). Joe then demanded that his entire entourage from NYC be able to join him and "be taken care of" in LA. The Lakers finally balked, rescinded their offer and Joe went on to do serious jail time, etc, and while he is widely recognized as the greatest street baller ever and perhaps the greatest non-NBA player in history, his life and legacy could have been so much more.
Scored 82 points with Nate Archibald present at Rucker. Pat Riley got frustrated enough to take him down after their little scrimmage. The legend sounds almost too good for something I hadn't heard as a fanatical Laker/bball fan.
Do you think he could've outshone the likes of Wilt, West & Baylor in the 70s? Or just another upstart who would fail in an organized system?... keeping in mind, he barely practiced/played regularly & would school any sort of competition on a whim.