Unappreciated: Kevin Willis Was A Beast In The 90s
Kevin Willis was a “second tier big man” in the late 80s and early 90s, but in today’s game, the one-time All-Star and always stylish — he studied fashion at Michigan State — member of Atlanta’s Air Force team with Doc, Spud and the Human Highlight Film would probably be on All-NBA teams…and not third either.
Willis (with his intimidating muscles) played 21 seasons in the NBA, was a double-double threat in 17 (!) of them and was a fantasy beast (if fantasy leagues existed) for three. Check out some of these performances between 1991-1994.
- (1993 vs CLE) 35pts, 25rebs
- (1991 vs DAL) 29pts, 31rebs
- (1992 vs WAS) 20pts, 33rebs
- (1993 vs POR) 32pts, 25rebs
- (1991 vs WAS) 22pts, 24rebs
- (1993 vs PHI) 33pts, 21rebs
- (1992 vs ORL) 32pts, 21rebs
- (1994 vs SAC) 29pts, 21rebs
During his only All-Star (don’t hold this against him because the league was full of centers and power forwards now in the hall of fame) season in 1992, Willis had a streak of five double-doubles with 20+ boards and also pulled off that feat in 9 out of 15 games. For the season, he had 20 games with 20+ boards and two with 30+.
He would finally get his championship ring at the age of 41, playing backup to Tim Duncan with the Spurs in 2003. Even at the age of 41, he put in quality minutes when needed: In Game 3 of the NBA Finals, he had 6 points and 5 boards in 16 minutes; In Game 1 of the WCF vs the Mavs, he put up 9 and 5 in 10 minutes.
And it was with the Mavs, Willis finally called it quits — at the young age of 44! And in his last game, he had 6 points and 4 boards in just 14 minutes — there’s centers in the league today who can’t put up 6 & 4 in 30 minutes.
WILLIS FOR TMAC?
Here’s an interest story about Willis and Tracy McGrady. A former member of the Houston Rocket’s management once told me they offered Kevin Willis to the Raptors for Tracy McGrady and not only did GG reject the trade, but he said it’s because T-Mac isn’t worth it and he “wouldn’t want to do that to you.” Well, the Rockets eventually got T-Mac from the Orlando Magic and the people in Houston couldn’t have been happier. The Magic’s front office also couldn’t have been happier to get rid of T-mac although they ended up with a player that gave them almost as many migraines: Steve Francis.