Tag: Tim James

David Robinson Spurs

Remembering NBA Players who served in the military


On Memorial Day, a day set aside for remembering the sacrifices people have made for our freedom and the chance to do things like watch NBA games, it seemed fitting to look back at NBA players who served in the military.

Because the NBA was formed after World War II, the NBA does not have the long list of players who left the game in wartime to serve. But there are some who have. (Many of the early NBA players in the 1949 season had been in college during the war, or in the case of some had simply been too tall to serve.)

But there are some who have served before and after. (What follows is an incomplete list.)

David Robinson. “The Admiral” is by far the best known of this group, a star at the Naval Academy who spent a couple years in the service as a civil engineering officer at the Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay in Georgia before moving on to the NBA. For the record, “the Admiral” was really a Lieutenant, Junior Grade. After leaving the Navy he has continued as a reserve for years and still helps with recruiting. As a player, well, he’s in the Hall of Fame, that should tell you how his career went.

Tim James. Earlier this season the Miami Heat honored their former first-round draft pick. He was drafted in 1999 but after his NBA career fizzled (and after a couple seasons playing in Europe) he joined the army and has done a tour of duty in Iraq.

Mike Silliman. The only NBA player ever to graduate from the United States Military Academy (West Point). The small forward was a member of the 1968 United States Olympic Team that won the gold medal and played in several other international tournaments for the United States. He was selected in the eighth round of the NBA draft in 1966 draft by the Knicks (yes, there was an eighth round back then) but he played just one season, the 1970-71 season with the Buffalo Braves.

Connie Norman. He highlights a larger issue we face in our nation — homeless veterans. Norman was a former Arizona star in college who was drafted by Philadelphia in 1974. He played in part of three NBA seasons (the last in 1979 with the San Diego Clippers). After the Clippers cut him he joined the army, where he was stationed in Germany. After that he played several seasons professionally in Europe. Three decades later he was homeless, living on the streets in Los Angeles due to drug problems. He got clean and was living in a facility to help get homeless off the street in Detroit.

Former Heat player Tim James to be honored for military service


Back in 1999, Tim James was drafted 25th overall out of the University of Miami by the hometown Heat. It seemed like the start of a perfect story.

But it didn’t pan out that way. James played four games for the Heat as a rookie, spent the next season with the Charlotte Hornets and the one after that with Philadelphia. Then he was out of the NBA in three years having played just 43 games.

What he did next is a step few would have taken, and why he will be honored by the Heat this weekend:

He joined the army. He has done a tour in Iraq.

Heat President Pat Riley told the Associated Press wanted to make sure James was honored for that sacrifice.

“With what’s going on in our world today, I think one of the greatest sacrifices that anybody, anybody, in our country today can make is to enlist in the military and help this war on terror,” Riley said. “I just think what he’s done is so unselfish and so great, that we really hope we can do justice by honoring him on Saturday.”

The Heat regularly honor members of the military at their games. This one is just a little different, a little more personal for the Heat.

The ceremony will take part prior to the Heat’s home game Saturday night.