NBA: One for the Books
by Henry Liao for philippinebasketball.ph (03/20/2012)
Or more precisely, can a player see action for two teams in the same contest?
Of course, that will never happen under normal circumstances.
However, such was not the case in one unique National Basketball Association (NBA) regular-season game nearly 33 years ago.
On March 23, 1979, the Philadelphia 76ers played host to the New Jersey Nets at the old Spectrum in a game that was being played under protest by the Nets.
Four men appeared in the boxscores of both clubs in the same contest ? the only such occurrence in NBA history ? following a midseason trade involving the quartet.
The original contest had been played on November 8, 1978 but by the time it was replayed in March of the following year, two Philly players had joined the Nets while a pair of New Jersey players had switched to the Sixers in a four-man swap.
On February 7, 1979, the Nets shipped guards Al Skinner and Eric Money to the 76ers for center Harvey Catchings, guard Ralph Simpson and cash.
The four men thus were listed in the lineups for both teams in the final boxscore, a 123-117 victory for Philadelphia.
To this day, it?s the only time in the history of American professional team sports leagues that anybody ?played? for both clubs in the same contest.
Recalled Catchings: ?I remember looking down at the boxscore the next day and seeing my name for both Philadelphia and New Jersey. It was kind of weird to say the least.?
?It was baffling,? added Skinner. ?Could our names appear in the boxscores for both teams? For a long time, we weren?t sure they would allow us to play at all (in the re-started game in March).?
As things turned out, that was not an issue for Skinner, who never entered the game for either squad.
Then-NBA commissioner Larry O?Brien (the predecessor of current league czar David Stern) had upheld the Nets? protest of their 137-133 double-overtime loss at Philadelphia on November 8, but denied their request that they be declared the winners.
The main bone of contention in the Nets? protest was that a third technical foul was called by veteran referee Richie Powers on both Nets forward Bernard King and Nets head coach Kevin Loughery, and that, under NBA procedures, only two technical fouls could be whistled against any player or coach in a game.
In making his decision, O?Brien ordered that the game be replayed from the point prior to the third technical assessed against King and Loughery as part of a quasi-doubleheader later that season.
When the protested game resumed more than five months later,Philly was ahead, 84-81, with five minutes and 50 seconds left in the third quarter. The 76ers went on to win by six points, 123-117.
The two squads later met that night in a regular-scheduled game, which Philly also won, 110-98.
In the replayed encounter, none of the four players had much bearing on the outcome.
Catchings, who went scoreless in the original game, fared the best among the quartet, contributing eight points and four rebounds for the Nets in 14 minutes.
Simpson did not score for the Nets after tallying 10 markers two of which were erased officially following the replay)for Philly.
Money got four points for the Sixers after pouring in 37 points (including 14 that came after King?s ejection and therefore were removed from the official final boxscore)for New Jersey in the protested game.