Hoop Diary’s Jersey Countdown series continues as we take a look at our all-time greatest #51 from ABA/NBA history. Starting at #55, the series is well under way as we have named Dikembe Mutombo, Horace Grant, Artis Gilmore and Buck Williams to the Hoop Diary Jersey Countdown Hall of Fame.
Who is our greatest #51 in ABA/NBA history?
The list of players to wear the number 51 is a short one, currently holding only 37 names. With such a small sample size it should make this selection easier, not harder, but running through this list one soon detects a considerable drop off in productivity compared to the previous numbers we have covered. It was very hard to include any of these guys in an all-time greats article but someone needed to be crowned and Lawrence Funderburke got the nod.
With the 51st pick in the 1994 NBA Draft, the Sacramento Kings selected Lawrence Funderburke out of Ohio State University. The draft pick used to select Funderburke was acquired from the Atlanta Hawks three years earlier with Spud Webb for little used Travis Mays. Playing only 56 games in his rookie campaign, Funderburke averaged a solid 9.5 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. He was known throughout his Sacramento days as a positive, high energy locker-room guy.
Starting only seven games throughout his entire career, Funderburke relied heavily on hustle and hard work to impact games as a reserve. His determination and high energy play endeared him to the Sacramento fans, earning him somewhat of a cult following. Funderburke concluded his Sacramento stint in 2003, before returning to the NBA in 2005 for a short term with the Chicago Bulls.
Over the course of his 318 game NBA career Funderburke averaged 6.4 points and 3.6 rebounds per game while shooting .506 from the field, and takes his place as Hoop Diary’s all-time best number 51.
Notable mentions: Michael Doleac, Reggie Smith and Michael Ruffin.