Obscure Athletes

Where the 15 Minutes of Fame Never End

Obscure Spotlight: Raef LaFrentz

To me it’s always seemed that the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement was made with one thing in mind: to make sure that there’s

Raef, talking about how great it is to be filthy rich.

 an obscure white guy on the end of every NBA team’s bench making a rediculous amount of money. Raef LaFrentz averaged 10.1 points per game in his 11-year career. Over that span, he made $84, 135,000–a hefty sum for a guy who was once traded along with Chris Mills and Jiri Welsch to Boston in exchange for Tony Delk and fellow contractual albatross Antoine Walker.

LaFrentz went to Kansas where he played four seasons before being picked by the Nuggets third overall in the 1998 draft. Raef had a tough rookie season however, tearing his ACL just thirteen games into his innaugural campaign. He would come back strong the following season, starting 80 games and 78 in the 2000-2001 season. In Denver, LaFrentz established himself as an accurate outside shooter and feared shot-blocker.

Raef was no stranger to the bench during his time in Portland

The LaFrentz era ended in Denver in February of 2002, when he was traded to the Mavs in a many-player deal that included obscure athletes Juwan Howard and Tariq Abdul-Wahad. It was his best season in the NBA, and one in which he became the third player ever to record 100 blocked shots and 100 three-pointers made in a single season. That offseason, the Mark Cuban and the Mavericks wanted to make sure they’d have a contrat that one day every team would want as it was about to expire, so they elected to give Raef LaFrentz a seven year, $70 million contract. Just a year later LaFrentz and the Mavs parted ways in the aforementioned deal with the Celtics.

Two-plus seasons in Boston saw LaFrentz starting most of the games he appeared in, and anchoring the middle during the dark ages of Celtics basketball. He was both hilarious and a burden to watch at times in Boston, though to this day he remains one of my all-time favorite Celtics. In June of ’06 LaFrentz was jettisoned to Portland in the Sebastian Telfair deal. Fuck Sebastian Telfair.

LaFrentz’ last three seasons, all in Portland, were both the statistically worst, and most lucrative of his career. His numbers went down each season he spent with the Blazers, and the ’08 offseason saw that giant contract given to LaFrentz seven years and two teams earlier, finally expire. No team was willing to give the 31-year old LaFrentz a deal, and he was forced to retire. And to this day, if you ask me about the Raef LaFrentz era in Boston, I’ll fondly remember some of the otherwise darkest days the Fleet Center/TD Banknorth/TD Garden ever saw.


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