The funny thing about living in today's society is that we have literally every piece of public knowledge at our fingertips, but we choose to ignore it. Basketball Reference is a phenomenal source for learning about the game and they find ways to improve the site at an alarmingly fast rate. If one would like to know what Terrell Brandon's usage rate was against the Seattle Supersonics was on January 17, 1997, it is a few clicks away. Want to know what Larry Nance's true shooting percentage was against the Golden State Warriors on November 12, 1992? Go nuts.
We also live in an era where we have an unreasonable amount of video available at our fingertips. Let's just say that I want to see Ricky Rubio tell his teammate to "change" his face and to "be happy," it's right there. Current NBA head coach Doug Collins playing Cleveland Cavaliers broadcaster in a game of H-O-R-S-E in 1978? Knock yourself out.
Want to know more about a player on and off the court? Who was the third Australian center to lace up for the Bulls? Luke Schenscher, of course. Then there's El Gigante, AKA Jorge Gonzalez who was a professional wrestler who was drafted by the Atlanta Hawks in the third round of the 1988 NBA draft. Remember Don Ford? Probably not. He's the guy that the Cavs traded for a first round draft pick for in 1980. That pick, of course, was top overall pick James Worthy.
Then there is Austin Carr. This is a man that was the top overall pick in the 1971 draft. He had a 10 year career in the NBA. Carr, who was a natural-born scorer, averaged 15.4 points per game in his career. Even though he only played 5 minutes in the 1974 all star game, it was still an honor for a Cavalier to be named to the team. Before Carr, only four other members of the franchise had been selected. In other words, he has a long and respectable history of playing on the hardwood but is now thought of primarily as a broadcaster.
As one would hope for a first overall draft pick, Austin Carr entered the league as a promising player. The Cavs selected him because of his ability to score. As a four year collegiate, Carr averaged 34.6 points and 7.3 rebounds on 52.9% shooting. Carr's best year came as a junior when he scored an unheard of 38.1 points per game on a sizzling 55.6% shooting. Perhaps his best moment, Carr scored 61 points in a game against the Ohio University Bobcats on March 7, 1970. The list of players to score more than 60 points in Division I NCAA men's basketball is quite short and the man we affectionately call Mr. Cavalier is on it. Carr is Notre Dame's high scorer with 2,560 points and he holds the highest scoring average in Notre Dame history. Austin Carr's made love to pressure before Stephen Jackson made it trendy. To this day, he holds to scoring record for NCAA Tournament with an average of 41.3 points per game. His career scoring average of 34.6 points per game is the second highest in NCAA history.
The promise of the top overall pick was short-lived due to an unfair penchant for being injured. In his 21.2 PPG rookie campaign, he broke his foot in the preseason of the 1971 year. A few weeks later after recovering from that injury, he suffered another foot setback and missed a few more weeks. Despite the setbacks, he was named to the All-Rookie team.
The following season went a lot better for Carr. He played a full 82 game season, which was a feat that he only accomplished four times in his career. He scored 20.5 PPG and along with Lenny Wilkens he led the Cavaliers to a modest 32-50 record. Considering that the team just came off a 23-59 season and were less than three years removed from being an expansion franchise, it looked like the franchise was on its way up.
After having his career jeapordized by injuries, Carr found himself on the Miracle of Richfield team with a new role. Instead of being the go-to scorer, Carr scored 11.8 PPG in playoffs that features an upset of the Washington Bullets and a devastating loss to the Boston Celtics. The Bullets featured future hall of famers Elvin Hayes, Dave Bing and Wes Unseld. Washington had just come off a finals berth in a loss against Rick Barry and the Golden State Warriors. Carr had his moments in the Miracle of Richfield run, but he unselfishly deferred to the likes of Campy Russell, Jim Chones and Dick Snyder.
According to Carr himsel, he "lost a step" after his first three years in the league. His biggest regret is never being able to bring a championship to Cleveland, which is likely why he was so happy when Cleveland won the lottery in 2003 and why he still holds a grudge with LeBron James for The Decision. To have all of that talent in conjucture with good health and to set fire to the franchise like an ancient Roman emperor is something that can't possibly sit well with Carr.
The ironic thing about Austin Carr is that he has a long and storied history as a basketball player. He did not live up to the expectations after his incredible four year run at Notre Dame, but that was of no fault of his own. Sometimes the human body simply does not want to cooperate. Despite his talents on the hardwood, many people only think of Carr as the color man for Cleveland Cavaliers broadcasts. It is hard to disassociate the man who is the self-proclaimed Mr. Cavalier from the broadcast booth and remember that he was at one point an incredible basketball player. I oftentimes see fans of other teams complain about "that guy who does color analysis on Cavs games" because of his oftentimes one-sided commentary on what is happening during the game. It is quite ironic that a man who was so good at his craft at one point is remembered mostly for yelling catchphrases and having a sunny-disposition for the team that he covers.
Austin Carr loves the Cavaliers and the city of Cleveland. There are times where his act may be a little over the top, but it comes from a good place. When compared to a man like the legendary Joe Tait, it is nice to see Carr be such a big fan of the franchise. Even though it was not his fault in the least, a lot can be said about the somewhat disappointing nature of his playing career. Being so good tends to set the bar very high. A lot can also be said about his style of calling games on Fox Sports Ohio. Fans of Cleveland love it and opposing fans hate it. He's the Anerson Varejao of NBA color analysis. But what is not up for debate is the man's love for the Cleveland Cavaliers. For that, we will always love Austin Carr.