In an effort to get a more first hand account of the late Randy Smith, I sent an email to John Boutet, the curator if you will of the Buffalo Sports Museum (which is, for the time being, just a web site and not a building). In fact, if you read Kevin's post about Smith, he referenced a book about the Braves called 'Home of the Braves' - the pictures of Braves memorabilia in that book all come from Boutet's collection.
I asked him if Smith's NBA stardom was as much a surprise to the people of Buffalo as it was to the rest of the NBA. Also, I noticed several references to Smith playing small forward as a rookie, but I know he spent most of his time as a shooting guard, so I was wondering when that change was made. And I asked him to just share anything else he felt was worthwhile. After the jump is his gracious reply.
Randy was taken mainly with the intent of satisfying the local college hoop fans. The fans were still quite miffed from the previous year in which the Braves lost out on drafting local product Bob Lanier (Bennet HS and St. Bonaventure) and then inexcusably drafting John Hummer out of Princeton over another local star Calvin Murphy (Niagara)! Drafting Randy Smith was like admitting they screwed up the year before and this was a bone to the local hoop fans. The Braves had no idea he would turn into the team's all time leading scorer. Randy was such a good athlete it would have surprised no one if he went on to play pro soccer. Randy also ran track for Buff St. Randy was actually from Long Island and went to school here so he was not a home grown product but like Murphy he will always be ours. When Jack Ramsay was hired for the 1972-73 season he immediately put Randy at the shooting guard spot and never looked back. Randy made Jack look like a genius (he was anyway but that's another story).
I have been trying for years to get the HSBC Arena (where the Sabres play) to "retire" Randy and Big Mac's numbers and hoist them to the rafters but no one seems to want to do that. Personally, there are still thousands of Braves fans that want to see this happen and I really think they are missing the boat. Imagine a pre season game here in Buffalo between the Clippers and the Celtics. The Clippers would wear the Braves throwbacks. Invite Jack, Big Mac, Jimmy McMillian, Ernie D and a few others and hoist the banners up. WOW, the place would sell out in minutes.
Thank you John, for taking the time to provide us with a little franchise history. Your idea for a pre-season Clippers game at the HSBC Arena seems like a no-brainer - in fact, I can't believe it's never happened. Maybe someday we'll see his number 9 hanging from the rafters at HSBC and at Staples Center. It seems appropriate for the franchise's all time leading scorer.