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2/19/1971: Walt Wesley, of footnote fame, drops 50

Walt Wesley (Cleveland) guarding Elvin Hayes (San Diego)

On this day 49 years ago, Cleveland center Walt Wesley put up 50 points and 12 rebounds in a 125-109 victory over the Cincinnati Royals, setting a new career-high by 25 points. Wesley was never much more than a journeyman -- his best season came that year, when he averaged 17.7 points and 8.7 rebounds for a 15-win Cleveland team -- but he proudly carried with him one historical footnote: he was a throw-in piece in Milwaukee’s agreement to send Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to the Lakers, in 1975. As told in 1987 by Wesley, then an assistant coach at Army, to the L.A. Times:

“I’ll always be in the record book -- if they print it right. They can put an asterisk by my name or whatever, but I was part of that deal and that isn’t going to change. Hey, I was traded with Kareem to the Lakers. …  “It’s like this. Say you go to the store and buy a steak. And the store owner has got an excess of chicken wings. So he says, ‘Here, take some of these chicken wings with you. Take them off my hands.’ I was the chicken wings.”

The chicken wings played just one game for the Lakers before being waived, which would end up being his 590th of 590 NBA games played.


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