Great Michigan Retro Afro

Submitted by Yostal on January 8th, 2010 at 2:41 PM

The SI Vault just tweeted this shot:

with the tag:
"SI Vault Photo (1976): Case closed. The guy sitting next to Johnny Orr has the greatest afro in sports history"

Which compels me to ask two questions:
1). What about Oscar Gamble?
2). Do we know which Michigan player this is?



January 8th, 2010 at 2:52 PM ^

Not much of an offensive threat, but a great defender. Intense, quick, tenacious. When he and Steve Grote were on the floor together, they were a gigantic pain the ass defensively for the opposing team.

And get a load of that four-eyed dork sitting on the other side of Orr. The future "non-Michigan" man.


January 8th, 2010 at 3:45 PM ^

But I recall Baxter having a pretty sweet outside shot. He wasn't much off the dribble.

I can't remember the announcer's name or the opponent, but he screamed out, "Baxter is shooting left handed!". Baxter was, of course, left handed. I think that qualifies for a Pam Ward award, aka a "Pammy".

Section 1

January 8th, 2010 at 2:50 PM ^

Best Afro in Michigan history. Dave Baxter.

I had to guard Dave in a pick-up game at the wonderful old Waterman gym. (Which was, in its day, the world's best place to play basketball -- 100-year-old wood, bathed in natural afternoon light through big windows...) He just rained jumpers over me. Pure awesome. It got so that I was rooting for them to go in, he was so beautiful.


January 8th, 2010 at 3:02 PM ^

Orr has the distinction of being the all-time winningest coach at both UM and Iowa St.

Regardless, when I was a freshman or sophomore (71-72/72-73) there was a loud and active "Dump Johnny Orr" faction on campus, who were dissatisfied over the fact that Orr could never get his team to win more games despite having lots of talent. (Sound familiar?...)


January 8th, 2010 at 3:05 PM ^

I believe Simmons covered this in the Book of Basketball, which is why it's fresh in my head.

Red Auerbach knew the rules of the NBA Draft as well as anyone and he had had a pretty loaded team that, with retirements, stumbled to 32-50 in 1977. Thanks to trades, he had the sixth and eighth pick in that draft. (The way Simmons tells it, with Celtics colored glasses on, Red was also never averse to making an "FU" move to the rest of the league.)

I don't have it all right here, but it has to do with a then extant "junior eligibility rule" wherein a basketball club could draft a player who was a junior, with the collegiate player still having the option to go back for his senior year. Yet, he would be the property of that team until the following draft. Bird went back to Indiana State and led the Sycamores to an undefeated regular season and earned an SI cover before falling to Magic in the Final.


December 19th, 2011 at 10:21 PM ^

"Not much of an offensive threat?"  "Not much off the dribble???"  Whoever wrote that obviously never played with or against Dave Baxter.  He was enough of an offensive threat to average over 30 points a game in high school at Lutheran West in Detroit.  He was enough of an offensive threat to go for 33 against Louisville his senior year.  He was enough of an offensive threat and good enough off the dribble to set the U-M assist record his senior year which stood for a number of years until Gary Grant broke it.   And he was enough of an offensive threat to get drafted by Seattle the year after they won the NBA championship and make it to the last cut when they had Gus Williams, Freddie Brown, and Dennis Johnson as the guards.

As a former U-M player myself who was lucky enough to play with Tomjanovich, I also had the privilege of playing rec ball with Dave for over 20 years.   We won countless championships over the years in all kinds of leagues.  He was without a doubt one of the greatest competitors I've ever played with as well as being a guy who just hated to lose.  And he ranks among the greatest jump shooters in U-M history. 

So when you guys are talking about Dave Baxter, he wasn't just the guy with the biggest Afro sitting on the bench next to Orr.   He was a great player then and for many years after.





December 19th, 2011 at 10:55 PM ^

Dr. J. had a pretty impressive fro back in the day, too. 

From that 1976 Michigan team, I also remember a skinny Freshman Phil Hubbard who held his own and sometimes outplayed IU's Kent Benson.