Wednesday, May 11, 2011

R.I.P. Robert "Tractor" Traylor

(ESPN) Former NBA player Robert "Tractor" Traylor was found dead Wednesday on the bedroom floor of his oceanfront apartment in San Juan, Puerto Rico, police said. Traylor had been missing for three days before friends went to visit him and found his body, according to police and Vaqueros de Bayamon, his team in Puerto Rico. He apparently had a heart attack, the team and police said.

Today truly is a sad day to be a nostalgic, 1990's college hoops fan. Robert "Tractor" Traylor, the 6'8 300+lb power forward, who starred for the University of Michigan for four season in the mid 90's, died today of a heart attack at his home in Puerto Rico. In his prime he led the Wolverines to a 1997 NIT Championship, and was MVP of the Big 10 tournament as a senior in '98. Known for his thunderous dunks, and equator-esq. waist size; Traylor quickly became a fan favorite on the college hoops scene.

He was drafted 6th overall in the 1998 draft by the Dallas Mavericks, but was immediately traded to the Milwaukee Bucks for Dirk Nowitzki and Pat Garrity. Garrity would later go on to be used as a trade chip in a deal that brought Steve Nash to the Mav's for Martin Muuersepp, Bubba Wells and a first round pick. That Traylor trade goes down in history as one of the worst draft day deals of all time, on par with the Hornets trading Kobe Bryant for Vlade Divac. To continue with this tangent, but stick with the theme of disastrous draft day rookie deals, the Timberwolves have twice traded future, recurring All-Stars for fifty cents on the dollar- Ray Allen for Marbury in '96, and Brandon Roy for Randy Foye in '06.

Back to the Traylor, I'd like to say I don't know why his collegiate success never translated to the N.B.A. (career 4.8 ppg), but that would be a boldface lie. In fact, the demise of Traylor's career could have been predicted by anyone familiar with his work habits and life (eating) choices. Much like what Sean May and Mike Sweetney and would go on to find out in the decade following, there really isn't a niche for undersized, overweight power forwards in the N.B.A.

With that being said, it's still sad to see someone pass who you used to avidly root for, emulate on the court, and worship in video games. This loss brought back the same feelings I felt a few years back when Eddie Griffin died in fiery car wreck. Griffin, with the exception of Jay Williams and Kevin Durant, was the best college freshman I had ever seen lance up a pair of shoes. He averaged 18 points, 11 boards and 4.4 block per game, and dominated the paint defensively for a mediocre Seton Hall team better than anyone I had ever seen before. Eddie would go on to be forever immortalized by his rankings and ability in the video game "NBA Live 2003". The second year Griffin was equipped with a 3 point, dunk and block icon, and was eons better than the likes of then superstars Allen Iverson, Kevin Garnett and Michael Finley. Griffin, along with Patrick Ewing, were my inspirations for wearing #33 throughout high school.

So basically tonight I'm left with two options: Memorialize Traylor by drinking a Olde English 40 while polishing off several Big Mac's, or memorialize Griffin by driving drunk while masturbating to porn and wrecking my SUV. I think I'm gonna choose the former on that one...

-fresh (@danye33)

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