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This Birthday in Buffalo Sports History: Randy Smith

(Born December 12, 1948) -- The Buffalo Braves had some great players on the roster during their eight years in the NBA. They may have had a few better ones that Randy Smith, but certainly none more beloved.

Smith was one of the great success stories in NBA history. He was born in Bellport, Long Island, and came to Buffalo State for college. There he was an All-American in basketball, soccer and track. Witnesses said Randy would just jump higher than anyone else in soccer games, and head the ball into the goal.

He was taken in the seventh round of the NBA draft in 1971, mostly in an effort to keep the home fans happy. A funny thing happened in training camp, though -- Smith made the team. He did it as a forward, even though he was 6-foot-3 and gave up inches in height to everyone he guarded. Smith was a good enough athlete to guard taller players and quick enough to run away from them.

Smith eventually moved to guard, and seemed to get better every year. He was named to the All-NBA Second Team for 1975-76, and in a career highlight was the most valuable player of the 1978 All-Star Game.

Randy went to San Diego when the Braves left, and spent one year as a Clipper. Then he was traded to Cleveland, and also played for Knicks and Hawks. Well after retirement, he was working in promotions for a Connecticut casino in 2009 when he had a heart attack after a workout.

--- Budd Bailey

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