(Born on February 28, 1956) -- As we finish up this list of Buffalo’s sports birthdays after a full year, we salute someone who did well in Buffalo but who stayed for much too short a time.
Adrian Dantley came out of the legendary high school basketball programs in the country, DeMatha of suburban Washington, D.C. He moved on to play college basketball at Notre Dame, where he became one of the school’s all-time greats. Dantley helped end UCLA’s 88-game win streak as a freshman in 1974, and became an All-American as a sophomore and junior. The forward won a gold medal with the U.S. team in Montreal in 1976.
That same year, Dantley became the first-round draft choice of the Buffalo Braves. He was the sixth pick overall. There was some doubt about whether the 6-foot-5 forward could play his low post game in the pros, but he silenced those thoughts quickly. Dantley became rookie of the year, the Braves’ third in their history.
The Braves shipped Dantley to Indiana in the offseason, the first time a rookie of the year had been traded before he started his second season with that team. Dantley was traded to the Lakers from there, and then later to the Jazz. In Utah he led the league in scoring twice and averaged more than 30 points per game four times.
Dantley moved on to Detroit from there, and also played for Dallas and Milwaukee. He averaged 24.3 points per game in his career, and was an easy choice for the Basketball Hall of Fame.
Thank you for reading this feature over the past 365 days.
--- Budd Bailey