We have finally recovered from our Super Bowl black out hangover at Bacon Sports, and now that the NFL season is over, it is time to put basketball at the center of attention. Speaking of center of attention, allow me to introduce to you a gentle giant from north of the border whom Jason Kidd once donned the highest praise on, signed a contract Brian Cardinal would blush at, and has a hobby that will make you flip your lid. Here is your Average Joe, the pinball wizard Todd MacCulloch.
It is impressive that the seven-foot center from Winnipeg, Canada picked up basketball at the age of eleven and yet parlayed it into a full ride scholarship to the University of Washington. More remarkable is that MacCulloch led the nation in field goal percentage three years in a row during his collegiate days, joining Jerry Lucas as the only players to accomplish the feat. Those two in the same category is similar to Brady Anderson being mentioned in the same sentence as sluggers, mind-blowing. Todd used this success to land with the Philadelphia 76ers as the 47th pick of the 1999 NBA Draft, a mere 36 spots behind Trajan Langdon. Wow, the Cleveland Cavaliers blew that one and still have not recovered.
Unfortunately his NBA career lasted a short four years due to a disorder affecting his feet. However after averaging just UNDER four points per game for two years, he cashed in with a six year, 34 million dollar contract with the New Jersey Nets. Two takeaways here are that Brian Cardinal still credits this as the sole inspiration in his heist of the Memphis Grizzlies, and Rod Thorn who was running the Nets ought to be castrated for signing off on this. No surprise that the Nets made it to the NBA finals his first year, prompting future hall of famer Jason Kidd to call MacCulloch “the best center he has ever played with” at the time. I have no further statement your honor, the defense rest. After being traded back to the Sixers, he was forced to retire after one season because of foot pain, logging a career average of 6.1 ppg and 4.0 rebounds a game.
What you do not know is his on the court game, pales in comparison to his pinball craft. What started as a hobby in middle school to avoid girls at school socials and to kill time during bowling trips (and by the way who does not go on bowling trips on the regular?) turned into a full-time obsession. After winning the lottery with the New Jersey Nets, he was able to start buying pinball machines and now owns over 50 machines. Despite his experience in big games, the 7 footer gets nervous and anxious during matches. However, the giant possesses a feathery touch on the flappers like Detlef Schrempf, allowing him to peak on the IFPA (International Flipper Pinball Association if you didn’t know) pinball rankings at number 84. Wait, they have ratings for pinball? Law and Order SVU is just licking their chops to get the rights to a future creepy case this has written all over it.
One final claim to fame for MacCulloch is an appearance in a Dave Chappelle skit. In the skit “Reparations 2003 follow-up” he is said to have played a one on one game with fellow white boy Travis Knight, outscoring him 75-68. I am pretty sure watching the computer play on my Double Dribble hand-held game would have captured a better story line. His feelings were hurt when the other players did not show, but was excited because he finally felt well-endowed. Basketball giant and front office thief, pin-baller, and television star, what could this Average Joe not do?
The next time you see a horrendous NBA contract signed, know it has roots in MacCulloch’s thievery of the Nets. Next time you hear Jason Kidd praise a teammate, know they are still second fiddle to Todd MacCulloch. And finally, next time, if there is even a next time, you play pinball, flap your flippers in respect to our Average Joe Todd MacCulloch.
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