Before they were the Los Angeles Clippers (or even the San Diego version), that franchise was the Buffalo Braves. And Bub Kauffman was one of their biggest stars — a three-time All-Star.
Kauffman passed away in his home in Suburban Atlanta on a week ago at the age of 69.
He was the No. 3 overall pick of the Seattle Supersonics out of Guilford College in North Carolina (the school also produced M.L. Carr and World B. Free around the same time). He played a season there and a season with the Bulls before being traded to Buffalo before that team’s inaugural season in that city.
It was there that he blossomed into a popular three-time All-Star with the Braves. From Jerry Sullivan of The Buffalo News.
Kauffman, the third overall pick by Seattle in the 1968 draft, spent one season with the Sonics and one with the Bulls before the expansion Braves picked him up in a trade with Philadelphia in May of 1970. In the Braves’ first season of 1970-71, Kauffman averaged 20.4 points, 10.7 rebounds and 4.5 assists. He averaged 18.9 points and 10.2 rebounds in ’71-72 and 17.5 points and 11.1 rebounds in ’72-73. He made the Eastern all-stars in all three seasons for Buffalo teams that lost 60 games.
He had a diminished role for the Braves team that made the playoffs in 1973-74 under coach Jack Ramsay. Kauffman went to the Utah Jazz in the 1974 expansion draft and was shipped the same day to the Atlanta Hawks in a deal that sent Pete Maravich to Utah. Kauffman, hobbled by hip ailments, retired at age 28 after one season with the Hawks. Kauffman coached 58 games in Detroit in 1977-78 after replacing Herb Brown and went 29-29. Later, he served as assistant general manager in Atlanta.
“The Buffalo fans from all over, people who moved to Atlanta or wherever I go, they all remember my dad,” (his daughter) Lara Kauffman said. “What people remembered about my dad was he played very blue-collar. I think he was sort of a reflection of a lot of people in the Buffalo community the way he played. He wouldn’t back down from anybody. He played against Lew Alcindor at the time. He matched up against Wilt Chamberlain. My dad would go head-to-head with those guys. He was undersized. He was 6-8 and played a face-up game. But because he was so physical, oftentimes he would match up against the toughest player. He would go toe-to-toe with them. I think his style of play reflected Buffalo a lot.”
Our thoughts are with the Kauffman family.