Mad Props to the Flattop Fade

Larry Stewart

Forward

Height: 6’8” Weight: 220lbs.

Born on 21 September 1968 in Philadelphia.

Washington Bullets, Seattle Supersonics

In Philadelphia, Stewart attended Dobbins Tech High School. After graduating, he was recruited and accepted to Coppin State University which he attended for 3 years. On December 12, 1989, Stewart and the Coppin State Eagles defeated Maryland 70-63 in an upset at Cole Field House. Maryland never lost another nonconference game in that building up to its closing in 2002. That same season, Stewart led Coppin State to the NCAA Tournament in 1990. It was the school’s first appearance ever in the Tournament. As a 15th seed, they were matched up against 2nd seed Syracuse that was lead by Derrick Coleman. Syracuse won 70-48. Stewart scored 19pts. While playing for the Eagles, Stewart was awarded the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Player of the Year honor twice. Upon leaving Coppin State, he was awarded the McClendon Award which is given to the top player at historically Black Universities. Eventually he would be inducted into the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Hall of Fame.

Stewart was not drafted but signed with the Washington Bullets on September 23, 1991 as a free agent. After erupting for 23 points and 11 rebounds against the San Antonio Spurs on December 30, 1991, Stewart was asked what it was like playing for in the NBA having not been drafted, “I expected to play, and play well. But, honestly, I didn’t expect to start so soon. I’m still shocked about it. Everyday I wake up and thank God.” He started much of the season as the Bullets were plagued by injuries. Upon completing his rookie campaign, playing in 76 games, Stewart was one of eight Bullets players to average double figures in scoring during the season at 10.4 points per game. Only the Orlando Magic could match that many players averaging double figures in scoring that year. Stewart was second on the Bullets in both rebounding, totaling 449 during the season, and field goal percentage shooting .514. Among Rookies, Stewarts numbers ranked third behind Larry Johnson (Grandmamma) of the Charlotte Hornets and Dikembe Mutombo of the Denver Nuggets. Stewart received NBA All-Rookie 2nd team honors for his play thereby making him the first ever undrafted player to make the NBA All-Rookie team.

On August 6, 1992, the Bullets matched the Spurs’ offer sheet to Stewart which guaranteed him a reported 2.6 million dollars over the next four years thereby solidifying a lengthy stay with the team that had taken a risk on signing him. It paid off that season. During the 1992-93 NBA season, Stewart shot .543 on field goals which was 9th best in the league.

However, on January 8, 1994 Stewart was violently attacked in his home in Baltimore County while sleeping. He was shot and stabbed after being pulled from his bed, bound and tied during a break-in. The gunshot wound was to his neck and he was stabbed in his right thigh. Fortunately, neither of the injuries was permanently damaging or fatal. Had the bullet been inches over it would have hit his spinal cord.

Stewart played for the Bullets until 1995 when on June 24 he was drafted by the Vancouver Grizzlies in the NBA expansion draft. He never even suited up for the Grizzlies because on November 1, 1995 he was traded to the Orlando Magic. Within days, he was waived by the Magic on. During his time away from the NBA, Stewart played for the Quad City Thunder in the CBA before playing in Zaragoza, Spain in February 1996. After playing for the summer league team of the Seattle Supersonics he was signed by the team, having caught the eye of Coach George Karl. The 1996-97 season would be his last in the NBA as the following year he was unable to convince either the Sonics or the Golden State Warriors to sign him. In his entire NBA career, Stewart played in 270 regular season games and 4 playoff games.

Would players such as Bruce Bowen or Udanis Haslem been given chances without the hard work of Larry Stewart?

After leaving the NBA, Stewart would play for several teams in Europe including Valvi Girona 1998-99, Casademont Girona 1999-2001, and C.B. Caceres 2000-01 all in Spain. In Greece he would play for Peristeriou Athens from 2002-04, Maroussi Athens 2004-05 and Olympia Larissa from 2005-06. Most recently he was playing in France with Paris Levallois 2006-07 and at age 39 for Quimper UJAP in 2007-08 where he averaged 15.2 points and 6.1 rebounds while shooting .546 from the floor.

Larry Stewart opened the doors of the NBA to undrafted free agents. His production, injuries aside, helped encourage teams to look outside the draft for skilled players. Without this transition players such as Ben Wallace, Brad Miller, Udonis Haslem, Bruce Bowen, and Raja Bell, to name a few, may not have received the opportunity to play in the NBA.

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Filed under History of Hoops, Players

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