Friday, June 5, 2009

Randy Smith: 1948-2009

by Ralph Lawler

The Clippers lost one of their charter stars yesterday with the passing of former All-Star guard Randy Smith. The 60-year-old former Clipper died from an apparent heart attack while working out on a treadmill at his Connecticut home.

Smith was one of the "good guys." A soccer and basketball star at Buffalo State, he was an unheralded 7th round draft pick of the Buffalo Braves in 1971. In his very first NBA game, the 6-foot-3 Smith was asked to guard NBA super star Elgin Baylor of the Los Angeles Lakers. He must have done okay because he’d go on to score more than 16,000 in his 12-year NBA career (16,262 to be exact).

Smith and Bob McAdoo led the Braves to the NBA playoffs three straight years in the mid-70’s. Randy was an All-Star in 1977, and was named the game’s MVP after scoring 27 points coming off the bench. A year later, he’d move with the team to San Diego for the birth of the Clippers. Teaming with World B. Free in the backcourt, he’d average more than 20 points a game under head coach Gene Shue.

A photo of Randy in action adorns the cover of the Clippers 1978-79 Media Guide. When the team signed league MVP Bill Walton to a giant free agent contract in the summer of 1979, NBA Commissioner Larry O’Brien used his authority to strip the team’s roster as "compensation" for the signing. He forced the trade of Smith to Cleveland while awarding Portland with big men Kermit Washington and Kevin Kunnert.

The Clippers reacquired Randy Smith in 1982. Widely known as the league’s fastest player, he was also a true "ironman." He’d play in a then league record 906 consecutive games before finally sitting one out.

Smith retired in 1983. He remained active as the NBA’s Director of Player Programs. He’d later coach briefly in the Continental Basketball Association. He is survived by his wife Angela, two sons and a daughter.



Smith
RANDY SMITH
SchoolHeightWeightDOBNoTeam
Buffalo State ‘716’3”18512/12/48#9Buff. Braves/SD Clippers: 1971-72 to 1978-79, 1982-83
YrsGMinFGMFGAPctFTMFTA PctRebAstPtsAvg
971524393521411035.47223042986.772298534981273517.8