Guest blogger, Michael J. Weathers.
Hello and welcome to a lil segment I like to call "Whatever Happened To..." Every so often I will call out a former athlete who has fallen off the grid. So let's get this party started!
The featured athlete for the first installment of "Whatever Happened To" is none other than Shawn Kemp; also known as "The Reign Man.” Now this is going to hit close to home because I was a huge Kemp fan back in the day. He is hands down one of the top 10 best dunkers in the NBA. I would even dare to say top 5!
Born in Elkhart, Indiana, Kemp developed a quick reputation as a high flyer in his high school career. After leading his high school to some state championships, Kemp decided to sign his letter of intent to attend Kentucky. However, due to some legal issues he passed on the Wildcats and rode the bench at Trinity Valley Community College. Which in my opinion was the right move (sarcasm much?). Frustrated with not getting any "run" (that's slang for playing time), Shawn Kemp decided to enter into the NBA Draft in 1989 at the ripe age of 19. Back in those days, that was very rare! He was selected by the SuperSonics in the first round. Now if you want to get technical, he was one of the firsts to be drafted straight out of high school.
Shawn Kemp was a complete and total beast while in Seattle. I remember watching highlights on ESPN of Gary Payton aka "The Glove" throwing up lobs and Kemp just flushing it down. The SuperSonics led by Kemp and Payton also had the likes of Nate McMillian, Sam Perkins, and Detlef Schrempf. With this cast of characters (literally) they dominated the west. In the 1995-96 season they managed to win a franchise record of 64 games and lost to the almighty Chicago Bulls thanks to some guy named Michael Jordan (you may recognize the name). After the Finals appearance, Reign Man decided that he should be paid some superstar dollars. However the Seattle SuperSonics thought differently and entered into a three team trade that sent Kemp to Cleveland, Vin Baker from Milwaukee to Seattle, and Terrell Brandon and Tyrone Hill from the Cavs to the Bucks. Now just looking at the names of the people involved in this trade, I realized that all of them are candidates to appear on a future installment of "Whatever Happened To..."
While in Cleveland, The Reign Man developed a little bit of a weight problem. However, adding a few extra pounds didn't stop him from averaging 20 points a game. But we would continue to see the downward spiral of Kemp's life. After a short stint in Cleveland, Shawn landed with other teams like Portland and Orlando (which I completely forgot about). However, wherever Kemp went, his problems with drug addiction and weight gain would follow. His career would come to a close after the 2002-03 season. Apparently there were a few rumors of a comeback attempt but his hopes of returning to the NBA were squashed.
Well I tried my very best to hold back my tears while typing this article. But I just wanted to bring my man Shawn Kemp back into the spotlight again. To this very day I still love me some Shawn Kemp. He used to be my favorite character to play as on NBA Jam. I use to enjoy watching his dunks on NBA Inside Stuff. And that's right - I even had his home and away Sonics jersey with the Killer Crossover's to match. Such fond memories. Well I hope you enjoyed my first (and hopefully not last) edition of "Whatever Happened To..." Please take a moment to watch this sick YouTube video of Shawn Kemp and his greatness!
*Any views or opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the LadyBallers Organization/Social Network.
*Photo credit goes to The Read Jack Blog