Anthony Bowie has a lot to be proud of. Despite being selected in the third round of the 1986 NBA Draft (a.k.a. "The Len Bias Draft") and spending the first several years of his "professional" career playing in the CBA and a handful of European minor leagues, he managed to eke out eight seasons worth of NBA employment. What's more, he actually became a valuable reserve for the Orlando Magic, particularly in 1991-92 when he averaged 14.6 PPG, 4.7 RPG and 3.1 APG while shooting almost 50 percent from the field and nearly 40 percent from distance. Why, he even had two nicknames ("A.B." and "Boo") and could rightly make the claim that he's one of the top 10 players to ever come out of Oklahoma! Laugh all you want, but I bet you can't say that.

However, on March 9, 1996, A.B. did something that he should not have been proud of...although he obviously was: His first (and only) career triple double. And it will live on in infamy as one of the worst cases of stat padding in league history.

Here's what happened: The Magic were leading the Detroit Pistons by 20 points when Bowie -- who was making his second start of the season in place of the injured Nick Anderson -- rebounded a Piston miss. That carom gave Bowie 20 points, 10 rebounds and 9 assists, so he quickly called timeout with 2.7 seconds left so he could go for the triple-double. Magic coach Brian Hill was so upset he handed Bowie his clipboard and stormed away. A.B. drew up a play that called for the ball to be inbounded to him and for him to throw a lob pass to David Vaughn.

Doug Collins, who was coaching the Pistons, angrily told his players to stand at the side of the court when play resumed and not contest Bowie's pass. (That'll show 'em, Doug.) They did what they were told; Vaughn dunked the ball home and Bowie got the assist and his cherished triple-double. The funny thing is, that one meek show of protest sort of epitomizes everything that was wrong with Collins as a coach...and David Stern fined him $5K for it. (Thank God he's not coming back to Chicago to coach next season.)

This is what Bowie said after the game: "I'll probably never have the opportunity to do it again. It was entirely me. Coach (Brian) Hill had nothing to do with the timeout. I knew when he gave me the board that it was up to me. You only get so many opportunities, and that's why I did it. Whether they’re going to move over or whatever they’re going to do, I'll take it. It's all the same. I ran over to tell Doug Collins the situation, that it was a great opportunity for me, but that I didn't want to make anybody mad. He didn't listen."

Imagine that.

Shaq, who was still with the Magic, supported his teammate's stat-mongery (naturally). This is what the Big Quotable had to say: "I'm glad he did it. I don't care who gets mad. Because of the talent on this team, Anthony Bowie doesn't get a chance to play a lot. He was in the CBA. A lot of people thought he couldn't make it. He got a chance. He came over here, and that's his first career triple-double. I'm glad for him and could care less if Doug Collins got mad." (It's sort of ironic that, just a couple years earlier, Shaq publically -- and very bitterly -- complained that David Robinson had padded his own stats to "steal" the 1994 league scoring title.)

Hill wasn't quite as forgiving as Shaq, and he issued an apology during his post-game interview. "I want to formally apologize to Coach Collins, his staff, the Pistons, organization and the Orlando fans for the timeout that was called. I thought it was totally uncalled for, and it's something I regret."

Of course, Hill was the guy who handed his clipboard over to Bowie and let it all happen. He could have benched him, or told his player not to do it...I mean, he was the coach, right?

Years later, Bowie remained unrepentant. When asked if embarrassing himself and his opponents was worth it, this is what he said: "To me, yes, it was worth it. You know, people can say what they want, and you know, think of me as a bad guy, but it was an opportunity for me. You know, I ended up playing the 48 minutes all the way out to the last second, that's all it know, you always hear the coaches say play to the last second. And, you know, for me, it was an opportunity, you know -- who knows, I mean, I may have never got to start again, but the opportunity for me was there, and I took advantage of the opportunity.

"Would I do it again in the same situation? If I got to play the whole 48 minutes out, yes I would. I mean, people can say they wouldn't do it again, but when you're in that situation, you just never know what you're going to do. You know, we can pretend that we're going to do certain things at certain times, but when it comes down to reality, you know, we don't know what's going to happen. We really don't know what's going to happen. So I probably would do it again."

Dishonorable mentions: The Bowie story has served as a cautionary tale for future stat padders, but at least two players totally ignored it.

On March 16, 2003, Ricky Davis -- then a Cleveland Cavalier -- had accumulated 28 points, 12 assists and 9 rebounds during a blowout of the Utah Jazz. But that wasn't enough for Davis, who caught an inbounds pass with six seconds left and was about to shoot at his own basket so that he could miss and get his 10th rebound. But DeShawn Stevenson wrapped him up and spoiled his plan. Naturally, Davis showed no remorse after the game, saying: "[The Jazz] should be mad. Any team that gets beat that bad shouldn't be happy. I'd probably be mad, too, losing by 20."

Stevenson, believe it or not, actually busted on Davis for not acting professionally. "There's too many people who have done too much for this sport to act like that. This is the NBA, and you've got to be professional, and that's not professional. Yes, I think it was disrespect to the game and disrespect to me. You've got little kids looking up to him and to see him do that isn't right." Uhm, what happened to that DeShawn Stevenson? Might be time to check his basement for body snatcher pods.

Of course, Davis never would have gotten his triple-double that way: Rule 5, Section 1 of the league's official rules states that: "It is a violation for a player to attempt a field goal at an opponent's basket. The opposing team will be awarded the ball at the free throw line extended." So he made himself look like a huge jackass for nothing. Awesome.

Just over a year later, on April 12, 2004, Bob Sura intentionally missed a shot right before the final buzzer and grabbed the board to "earn" a triple-double of 22 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds. (At least he was actually shooting at the right basket.) Sura tried to cover for his superdickery joking that the shot "slipped" out of his hands. Ha. Ha.

David Stern found the situation so funny that he discounted the shot attempt on the grounds that a "slip" doesn't count as a shot since the rules clearly state that: "A field goal attempt is a player's attempt to shoot the ball into the basket for a field goal." In other words, if Sura wasn't trying to put the ball in the basket, there could be no shot attempt. And if there was no shot attempt, there could be no rebound. Gotcha, Bobby!

Unlike Bowie and Davis, at least Sura showed a little humility after getting slapped down by the league office. "I'm disappointed that my attempt to earn my third triple caused so much controversy. It was never my intention to make a mockery of our sport and to take any attention away from our huge win over the Nets. If anyone was offended by my actions, I sincerely apologize."

Labels: , , , , , ,

Blogger Justin Tenuto said...
This was a great, great post and proves what I always knew: that Basketbawful knows him some basketball. I'm a lifelong roundball lover and the only one of these I knew about was the Sura debacle. So, at the risk of sounding like a sycophant, I love you and want to have all your babies. I'll go to through that surgery Arnie went through in "Junior" if I must.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
All is right in the world again...

Anonymous Anonymous said...
um... check your dates. Shaq was definitely not a rookie in 1996

Blogger Basketbawful said...
justin -- Thanks, dude. Post-ops can be hot...I can't wait for the after-pictures!

hoffman -- Indeed.

anonymous -- Dude, you're so right. I boned that one. Corrected.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Collins should have put his 12th man in to remove Bowie's head after that time out and then Chicago should have just paid whatever fine Stern give them, instead of looking like bitches.

The other thing that concerns me: Pat Reilly was complaining that Beasley is not a "Reilly Guy" but he traded for Ricky Davis twice?!?
Do you have to be a douchebag to be a "Reilly Guy"?

Anonymous Anonymous said...
I watched that Hawks-Nets game. It was down the stretch of the season and essencially meaningless.

It was a fun game though, it ended with a score like 130-110 or something, which was a big deal in the pre-small ball era.

Bobby Sura was playing out of his mind, and I remember everybody - the TV announcers, the Atlanta crowd, me - was gunning for him to get his triple double.

I thought it was a bit mean for Stern to take it away from him. It wasn't such a blatant travesty as the Bowie or Ricky Ricky fiascos; it wasn't an insult to either the audience nor the Nets.

And, considering how sad Sura's career and the Hawks franchise were, it wouldn't have been THAT bad to let him keep it.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
I have been a longtime subscriber to basketbawful and this is my first comment.

Just wanna say this is one of the finest, most well researched basketball article I have ever read.

Sura, Bowie and Davis were doing these when their teams were so far ahead. Only a genuine hoops lover would hang around to watch the game well into garbage time and take note of their dickery.

I am not in any way surprised this excellent article came from basketbawful.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
I'm with Bowie on that one. He's right on at least 2 things: that could have been his only chance at a triple double (turns out he was right) AND coaches preach playing till the last second, which he did.

Guy worked so hard to get into the league while others *cough*vince carter*cough* piss their talent away, you gotta appreciate it. Give him a break.

As for the 2 coaches involved ... well ... they just proved once more they were a couple of morons. Hill giving him the clipboard and living ... that's what a 3rd grader would do. If that means that much for your player, let him have it. You gotta show the players you care for what they want if you want them to listen to you and respect you. But I guess that's why Hill doesn't have a job in the NBA at this time.

As for Collins, if he was upset, have his team play good D so Bowie doesn't get his triple double. He's doing a nice job on TV, but I'm glad he's not coaching the Bulls.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
I'm fine with Bowie, he just tried to get a triple double ... why the hell not??? Ricky Davis is always remembered as "the triple double guy" in the sense of his shameful shooting at the opponents goal attempt ... Bowie was within the rules at least and his opponents and both coaches were ones worthy of being basketbawful'd ... cry babies ... and Sura ... eh, at least he tried something vaguely legal, even if he says he didn't ... if he can manage to miss a shot and get the offensive rebound good on him! and Stern taking that away was bullshit, yeah someone misses to get a rebound in a game that was already won who the fuck cares?

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Damn, Anthony Bowie is my childhood hero. He played for Zalgiris in 1998-1999 season and we won the euroleague! At the start of the season the main goal for the team was not to be eliminated from the league. But Zalgiris had such beautiful team and Bowie was a great part of it. He was like 36, he avareged 14 points and I will always remember his 3pointer in the finals, after which the commentator was screaming "oh and anthony bowie strikes the last nail to the coffin of kinder bologna"... just an amazing player, very intelligent, very smart on the court. At the start of the game he would start going to the basket, and when the defenders step back a little, he'd shoot the jumpshots. There was two americans in the team, another was Tyus Edney. Also very good player, very quick, he saw the court beautifully. Ah, all the memories just flowing, I was six years old at the time.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
What Bowie did wasn´t THAT bad. He just played hard to the end, and if somebody wants to play hard until the buzzer sounds, even if his team is up by 50, then thats just fine. The NBA isn´t some little league were you have to be careful not to hurt the feelings of the opponents. This is a real league and if you don´t want to get stomped to the ground you should D the f*** up. And in the words of the immortal Bill Laimbeer, in 1996 Doug Collins was a whiner and a crier. Piss on him.

Sura´s actions were a bit more questionables. But I´ve heard stories that Moses Malone intentionally missed shots so he could get the offensive rebound and pad his stats. Its a bit of a gray area but the oppenents still have a chance to stop it.

But what Ricky Davis did was total dickery. And if a dick like DeShawn Stevenson has a case when he calls you unprofessional...well, then that says it all.

Blogger Unknown said...
I like the post, I actually saw all 3 of those games right down to to the triple doulbles so I guess that makes me a genuine hoops lover, thanx gary. I don't think there was anything wrong with what any of those guys did. If the opposing team didn't like it, stop them...deshaun stevenson did. Wow what a change for him!!
Curious what your thoughts are on the women's college player, I don't remember who but I think she was on Connecticut or Tennesse, who was put back into a game injured to score a basket and hit a career milestone. I'm ok with it too.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
I didn't know about Bowie's triple-double since I didn't follow basketball then but the other two of course. Bowie's actions where fine and even though it could be considered an asshole move the Bulls could have done something about it! Ricky Davis- it was funny so I liked it
Bob Sura- He was one of the players I was a fan of as soon as he got drafted so when he did something good I was happy. Very pissed when Stern took away that one.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
yo, what's with all the damn talk about the bulls stopping bowie ????

THE MAGIC WERE PLAYING THE PISTONS. It even says so in the damn post. In 1996 Phil Jackson was coaching the Bulls. You might remember a small detail of them winning 72 freaking games that season ?!?!?!?!

DOUG COLLINS WAS THE COACH OF THE PISTONS at the time. Why the hell do people assume that Collins only coached the Bulls and then the Wizards but no one else ?

and really, does anyone think that a jordan team would have sat on the side and watch the other team score even on the last play while down 40 ? jordan would have punched everyone in the face then stomped collins for telling them to do it.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Let's not forget Donald "all I do is drive to the basket" Royal of the Orlando Magic tried the same thing. Lack of knowledge of the rules.

Blogger Unknown said...
I agree with the guys that said they didn't see anything wrong in what Bowie and Sura did. In fact, I would even say that I don't see what's the freakin' deal about what Davis did. Yeah, he's a dick, but he didn't really hurt anybody. They were blowing those guys out anyway.

From what the author himself wrote about Bowie,you can see that this is a guy to whom a triple-double might actually mean something. I mean, if LeBron did it (and he never would - I would expect that kind of stuff from Kobe), that would be an act of douchebagery,because here's a dude who gets triple-doubles quite often. This article seems to me as more of an attempt to make Bowie look like a dick, especially by comparing him to Ricky Davis.I just don't see the point. If I were in his place, I would have probably done the same thing. In fact, when I was in high school, they were feeding me minutes with a tiny tea spoon. And then, during one of my many bench warming experiences, my coach approached me, and said: "When we put you in, don't hesitate. Shoot, fight, pad your stats." I know that there are many differences between a humble high school game and a big pro one, but the situations are quite similar, and the point is the same.

On a lighter note - I liked the Moses Malone and Zalgiris references! =)

Anonymous Anonymous said...
a lot of knowledge in bowie's last words, you know?

Blogger Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.

Blogger Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.

Blogger Johnny Valencia said...
Andray Blatche tried to become #4 on this list last night!

Anonymous Anonymous said...
"I ran over to tell Doug Collins the situation, that it was a great opportunity for me"

How can you even say these words without getting red in the face? Embarassing.