(Editor's Note: I'm going to be out of town for a couple days. Let Arichmix's tribute to the the worst free throw shooter of all time hold you over in my stead. One love.)
Chris Dudley is an enigma. Of all the scrubs in the history of organized sport, the one known as "C-Duds" may be the hardest to peg. On one hand, the man was almost fully incompetent on offense and watching him shoot free throws was like playing ball with a cruel friend who enjoyed imitating Helen Keller. However, how many scrubs can say that they averaged 9 rebounds a game starting every game in a season for a team, and how many more can say that they started in the Finals for their team? Not many, that's how many. So therefore Chris is either a very good scrub or a really bad regular player. But for the sake of argument for the Scrubdown, Chris Dudley is a damn good scrub.
While Dudley had a long, fulfilling 17 year career, the only years that really mattered were the three he spent with the Knicks. Before he arrived, the Knicks were in desperate need of a backup center for Patrick Ewing. When they acquired Dudley, what they wanted was a backup big man for their superstar. What they got was one of the greatest horrible Knicks that the franchise has ever seen, and a memorable member of the legendary Knicks of the late 90's.
From the outside looking in, one may wonder why Dudley is well-regarded by Knick fans the way he is. He simply seems like a roster filler/bad role player. Aka a scrub. However as previously stated, Dudley was a special kind of scrub. He was the kind of scrub who worked as hard as anybody, but never got better in his areas of weakness. Which include everything except defense, rebounding, cheering, and being white. However, as chronically bad as he was in all areas aside from those four, he was still a rotation player during his tenure with the Knicks. Oh, and how his play brought countless oohs and aahs, shocks and laughs. Mainly laughs.
Being the token white player on a Knick team teemed with badasses in all three of his seasons with the team seems like an unnatural fit for a guy like Dudley. After all, he does not embody the typical NBA player or for that matter, the typical 90's Knick when you look at his resume. He was the first and thusfar only NBA player who attended Yale, he was a diabetic, and dammit just look at him:
However, despite his polite demeanor, charitability, and his unthreatening appearance, Dudley was just as much a part of the thuggish ruggish Knicks of the 90's as any of the other members. Dudley hustled for rebounds with a DavidLeeesque tenacity, was undaunted on defense going up against premiere big men in the NBA, and never backed down. You want proof you say? Well, proof will be provided my skeptical friend.
The setting is the Knicks playing the Lakers in Los Angeles. Shaquille O'Neal, one of the best players in the league at that time, goes up and throws down a dunk and pushes Dudley to the floor on the way down. One may expect Duds to just take it, but no. Dudley picks up the ball and throws it at Shaq. May I repeat. He throws the fucking ball at Shaq. What's even more impressive is that considering his awful free throw shooting, the ball actually hit him. This video is in Spanish, but you don't need a phd in Espanol to understand what's going on.
That is Chris Dudley right there.
Now, anything discussing Chris Dudley would not be complete without mentioning the one key component that made Duds so unique. The one thing that constantly brings Dudley's name up even in today's NBA games. His wonderfully fantastic ability to be so bad at shooting free throws. If they statisticized air-balled free throws, Dudley would be the NBA career and season leader. It was truly amazing. At times, he had the worst form imaginable, and other times, he'd shoot with Houston-esque form. But consistently, the freebies would not go in. Ever. They never ever went in. Well, they did go in 45 percent over his career, but still they did not go in. The man missed 17 of 18 free throws in a game one time. He should be inducted into the hall of fame on that alone.
That's what made Dudley so special and have such a place in our hearts. Having such tireless effort and energy, but still not being very good whatsoever. Dudley started the last two games in the 1999 NBA Finals for us. The Knicks lost both of those games. However, despite being overmatched completely in that series, the Knicks and Dudley still gave it their all. Being the only scrub as far as I know to start in an NBA Finals, Dudley has done rather well for himself. Despite never being the most talented player on the court (ever), Dudley will always be a bright, shining example of how hard work and hustle can turn even the most untalented, uncoordinated longshot into one of the greatest scrubs in NBA history, who will provide us with a lifetime of cheers and laughs. Huzzah.