Black Greeks have dominated on the hardwood for decades (Photo Credit: Jeremy Sadoff/Charisma).
The Light of the League: All-Time Alpha Phi Alpha NBA Team
Alpha Phi Alpha often calls itself the light of the world.
And on the basketball court, many members of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. could simply light it up with the best of them.
Not only did some of the brothers from 1906 dominate on the court, some dominated off the court as well as coaches and general managers.
Therefore, RegalMag.com would like to honor the best Alphas to ever showcase their talents at the National Basketball Association (NBA) level in its series on Black Greeks in the NBA.
Small Forward: Junior Bridgeman—Not too many people can say they were traded for one of the greats of the game. However, Junior Bridgeman can say that after the Lakers drafted him in 1975 and dealt him to the Milwaukee Bucks for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. And when a person is traded for a Hall of Famer, they sometimes do not rise to the occasion. However, Bucks fans hold Bridgeman in such high regards that the organization retired his jersey for his excellence on the court. He had career averages of 13.6 points per game and 3.5 rebounds per game.
Power Forward: John “Hot Rod” Williams—“Hot Rod” Williams had career averages of 11 points per game and 6.8 rebounds per game. His best years came with the Cleveland Cavaliers of the late 1980s playing alongside stars like Brad Daugherty, Mark Price and Ron Harper. Williams later played three seasons with the Phoenix Suns and one season with the Dallas Mavericks.
Center: Wes Unseld—If youngsters believe Cavaliers power forward Kevin Love has perfected the outlet pass, they should check out YouTube videos of Wes Unseld’s days with the Baltimore/Capitol/Washington Bullets. The big man from Louisville had career averages of 10.8 points per game, 14 rebounds per game and 3.9 assists per game. Teaming with Elvin Hayes, Tom Henderson and Bobby Dandridge, Unseld helped the Bullets win the 1977-78 NBA championship.
Shooting Guard: Bobby Phills—As many basketball fans find themselves still fixated on the Michael Jordan documentary “The Last Dance,” do not forget that one of the defenders that Jordan respected most was Bobby Phills. The Southern University graduate earned everything he ever got on the basketball court. Recruited to Southern as an undersized center, he turned himself into a great shooting guard under the tutelage of his college coach, Ben Jobe. Unfortunately, a car accident claimed his life in the midst of his NBA career.
Point Guard: Walt Frazier—One of the coolest cats to ever run the point was Walt “Clyde” Frazier. With some much-needed energy provided by Willis Reed, Frazier dominated game seven of the 1970 NBA Finals, giving the New York Knicks their first championship. But it was his off-court style that made him even more of a legend. The fur coats, fancy cars, jewelry, unique suits and laid back charisma exemplified New York smooth.
Point Guard: Lenny Wilkens—When the St. Louis Hawks drafted Lenny Wilkens in the first round of the NBA draft in 1960, he did not even know if he wanted to play in the NBA. He had never seen an NBA game prior to coming out of Providence College. Convinced that he could outplay the guards on the Hawks roster, he joined the team and averaged 11.7 points per game as a rookie. He went on to enjoy a Hall of Fame career as a player with career averages of 16.5 points per game, 6.7 assists per game and 4.7 rebounds per game.
Point Guard: Quinn Buckner—Quinn Buckner was not a spectacular player. However, he was a consummate winner. Buckner won an Illinois state championship in 1972. He led the Indiana Hoosiers to an undefeated season and a national championship in 1976. Following the 1976 season helped the United States win an Olympic gold medal. Buckner won an NBA title with the Boston Celtics in 1984 before having a stellar career as a color commentator for the Indiana Pacers.
Center: Walt Bellamy—As far as the greatest centers in NBA history are concerned, Walt Bellamy probably does not get the credit he deserves from the younger generation of fans. For his career, Bellamy averaged 20.1 points per game and 13.7 rebounds per game. He played 13 full NBA seasons and one game of his 14th season. Bellamy tallied over 20,000 total points and 14,000 total rebounds, which places him in the same stratosphere as Karl Malone, Moses Malone, Wilt Chamberlain, Jabbar, Hayes and Robert Parish.
Point Guard: Nate “Tiny” Archibald—New York City has created some great point guards like Mark Jackson, Kenny Smith, Kenny Anderson and Stephon Marbury. But one of the first great, flashy point guards from the “Big Apple” was Nate Archibald. “Tiny” once led the league in scoring and assists for an entire season. He won a championship with the Larry Bird-led Boston Celtics in 1981.
Shooting Guard: Todd Day—Arkansas product Todd Day had career averages of 12.3 points per game and 3.4 assists per game. Drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks with the eighth overall pick in 1992, Day also played for the Boston Celtics, Miami Heat, Minnesota Timberwolves and Phoenix Suns.
Center: Wayne Embry—Wayne Embry’s lasting legacy might be his trailblazing career in an NBA front office, becoming the first African-American general manager in NBA history with the Milwaukee Bucks in 1972. Years later, he broke another barrier by becoming the first African-American president of an NBA team, the Cleveland Cavaliers. But the brother was also a good player, averaging 12.5 points per game and 9.1 rebounds per game over 11 NBA seasons.
Small Forward: Chris Mills—Chris Mills had a very solid career as an NBA swingman. He had career averages of 11.2 points per game and 4.9 rebounds per game over 10 seasons. Mills had a reputation of possessing good defensive skills and a decent jump shot.
Lenny Wilkins—A young Lenny Wilkens coached the Seattle SuperSonics to the 1978-79 NBA championship with players like Dennis Johnson. However, he did not stop there. Starting his coaching career as a player/coach, he did not stop until he had racked up 1332 total regular season wins with 1155 losses. He also coached the Portland Trailblazers, Cleveland Cavaliers, Atlanta Hawks, Toronto Raptors and his hometown, New York Knicks. He also won the gold medal as the head coach of the 1996 U.S. Olympic team.