For those that quit balling two or three decades in the past, though, it gets a little trickier.
Take Art Harris.
If you’re like me, the name Art Harris draws a blank. Bob Love? Check. Spencer Haywood? Duh. Tommy Kron? Foggy, but I know the name.
But Art Harris? No dice.
Well, let’s fill in a few of the blanks.
- Born Arthur Carlos Harris, Jr. in Los Angeles on January 13, 1947
- Graduated from Jordan High School, the same high school in Watts which produced Florence Griffith Joyner and Charles Mingus
- One of Stanford’s most prolific scorers, named All Pac 8 as a sophomore
- Averaged 20.7 ppg for the Cardinal in 1967-68, including a couple of 30+ point outings
- Named a member of Stanford Athletic Hall of Fame
- 17.2 ppg career average is 7th best in school history
- Drafted by Sonics in second round of 1968 draft
- Averaged 12 ppg his rookie season
- Led NBA in disqualifications
- Named to All-Rookie First Team, the only Sonic guard ever to receive that honor
- Played only 5 games for Sonics in 1969-70 before being traded on Oct. 25 to Phoenix for Dick Snyder
- Remained in Phoenix for the next three seasons, then out of the league
- October 2007, Art Harris RIP
I came across Harris’ passing on the NBA’s Retired Player Association website a year ago, and meant to pursue a story about him for the past twelve months. Occasionally, I would dig a little bit into his past, but I never got very far. Always, I thought, there’d be time to find out more.
Now a year has passed since Art Harris died, and I still don’t know anything more about him.
Here he was, a kid from Watts, who got a scholarship to Stanford, one of the greatest academic institutions in the entire country, goes on to make the NBA’s All-Rookie team, gets traded to Phoenix, then fades from memory.
What happened to Art Harris? What did his post-NBA life entail before he died at age 60? The NBRPA doesn’t even know the exact date of death, only a vague “mid-October” with no mention, either, of the location. The Stanford University site equally draws a blank, not even reporting his death until three months later, while the Seattle Times and PI were completely silent about the event.
Look at that team photo from 1968-69. Harris is the second from the far right, right next to Lenny Wilkens. Oddly, while all the other players were staring right at the camera, Harris stares to his right, his face in profile. Was he laughing at a joke from Bob Rule? It's as if, 40 years later, he's trying to make himself even more of an enigma.
Hey, I get it, he was an obscure player on an expansion team going nowhere. But couldn’t you say the same thing about Jeff Green? Sure, it’s possible Green will go on to greatness in the NBA, but the odds are more likely that within 5-8 years he’ll be long-gone from this league. Will his death 40, 50, 60 years from now pass as quietly as Harris?
A beautiful aspect to the internet is the way it facilitates communication. Perhaps someone reading this site will unearth a kernel of information, which will blossom into a full-blown story. Hopefully, someone out there can educate me as to what happened to Art Harris. Feel free to email us (see the top of the page), or fire off a comment below.