(Born on November 11, 1951) -- It’s tough to write the history of the Buffalo Braves without mentioning the name of Kevin Kunnert. He didn’t do much here, but he was involved in two good-sized trades in team history.
Kunnert was a standout at the University of Iowa. His scoring average went up in each of three seasons, peaking in 1972-73 as a senior when he averaged 19.2 points and 13.9 rebounds per game. Those numbers, and his 7-feet of height, attracted the attention of pro scouts.
Kunnert went 12th in the first round to the Chicago Bulls, but he never played a game there. In preseason of 1973, he and Garfield Heard were traded to the Braves for John Hummer and two draft choices. It was a steal, as Heard moved right into the starting lineup while Kunnert served as a backup center.
By February of 1974, the Braves thought they needed some help on the bench to be a playoff contender. Kunnert and Dave Wohl were shipped to Houston in exchange for Jack Marin and Matt Goukas. That deal helped the Braves became a superb offensive team, and Buffalo did indeed make the playoffs.
Kunnert lasted longer in the NBA than the Braves did. He also played Houston until 1978, spent a year with the Clippers, and finished his career in Portland.
--- Budd Bailey