With the NBA playoffs around the corner, Zach Schlemmer remembers some guys who barely made it past their rookie cards.
Whenever I go through my card collection, I always notice a bunch of random players even nerds like me have never heard of. It’s almost always a rookie card of some guy who played one or two years in the NBA before fading into obscurity. These worthless cards were usually produced because the card companies had to fill up their “Series 2” set, which was put out halfway through the NBA season and included mostly rookies, traded players, new insert sets, and, if you’re lucky, some All-Star Game cards.
For every Blake Griffin rookie, there’s a Byron Dinkins. But once you get your face on the card, you’ve made it. No matter how terribly things go from there, if you have a card, one day we’ll all remember you as an NBA player. Here are some of my favorite random rookie cards:
Byron Dinkins 1990–91 NBA Hoops
It’s sad that we didn’t get to hear this awesome name more often. Byron played two NBA seasons for a total of 45 games. He had a more successful basketball career in Greece after the NBA. It appears that his claim to fame was winning the Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year award. Who knew?
Mike Iuzzolino 1991–92 Upper Deck
I’ve learned from basketball cards over the years that if your card photo is you in front of a blue background, it’s probably not a good sign. Mike was the 35th pick in the 1991 Draft and played two seasons in the NBA. He might not’ve made it in the NBA, but he’s a proud member of the Blair County Sports Hall of Fame.
Oliver Miller 1992–93 Topps Stadium Club
The most famous player I’m reviewing here, by far, is Oliver Miller, the “Big O.” That’s because he’s the punchline to almost every joke about an overweight NBA player (OK, he’s probably second to Eddy Curry in the fat-joke department). Miller broke the 300-pound mark and would’ve been large even if he was Shawn Bradley’s height. Unfortunately, he was only 6-foot-9. Big O was the 22nd pick in the 1992 draft and actually had a fairly decent NBA career, playing nine years—most notably in the 1993 NBA Finals with the Suns.
Anthony Miller 1994–95 Fleer Ultra
No relation to Oliver. Anthony was the 39th overall pick in the 1994 Draft. He played for four teams during an eight-year career. He only played in 181 games for a total of 1,637 minutes. The poor guy’s nickname was “Pig,” but he did make a cameo in Space Jam. We’ll call it even.
Julius Nwosu 1994–95 Fleer
This card is one of the few pieces of photographic evidence that proves Julius was, in fact, in the NBA. He played 25 games for the ’94–’95 Spurs, but this Nigerian-born baller’s career did not end there. He played in 14 different countries during his 14-year career. One time he bought a bad medication in a Lagos market and was suspended for the 1998 FIBA World Basketball Championship for doping.
—Photo Freddy The Boy/Flickr