Standing at only 5’10” Michael Adams got used to prove people wrong about him throughout his 11-year NBA career.
Boston College standout closed down his NCAA career in style by averaging 15.3 points, 5.2 dimes and 3.3 boards in his senior year, 1984-85. Remember, that was before the NCAA introduced the three-point line for the 1986-87 season which makes you wonder how would that line, if it was introduced before, reflect on Adams’ NCAA stats and accomplishments, bearing in mind that he later became one of the premium NBA long-distance ‘gunners’.
It was Kansas City Kings (future Sacramento Kings) who selected Adams with the 66th pick overall in the 1985 NBA draft. The rookie point guard didn’t play much for the Kings that season – he appeared in only 18 games, played the total of 139 minutes, scored the total of 40 points, and what’s most interesting, didn’t make even one three-pointer!
Kings waived him on December 17th, 1985 and the free agent joined Washington Bullets for 1986-87. Already in his second season as a pro, Adams proved that he belongs to the NBA providing a solid back-up to the Bullets starting point guard Ennis Whatley. In 1986-87 Adams averaged 7.2 points, 3.9 dimes, 2.0 boards, and 1.3 steals while playing 20.7 minutes per contest.
It would take one more trade, this time to Midwest Division Denver Nuggets, and many words of encouragement from the Nuggets’ head coach Doug Moe, which would direct Adams on his way of becoming one of the quickest and most offensively dangerous point guards in the NBA. Moe, which is most important, between the games encouraged Adams to take (and make) more three-point goals. Of course, when along with the assignment to feed the ball to the team’s leading stars Alex English and Fat Lever.
From that point on Adams numbers for the ‘runnin’ and gunnin’ Nuggets, especially three-point attempts and makes, rapidly soared, enabling him to reach career-highs in 1990-91. That particular season, Moe was replaced by Paul Westhead. Adams became the key player in the ‘Guru of Go’ own fast-paced ‘run & gun’ scheme, exploding for career-highs of 26.9 points and 10.3 dimes per contest. More importantly, that season he set the new NBA record with 564 three-point tries while hitting his career-high of 167 threes on 29.6% clip.
Even though he scored a career-high 54 points vs. the Milwaukee Bucks on March 23rd, 1991, it wasn’t his most memorable game that season. That special moment of personal satisfaction came on December 26th, 1990 after the Nuggets 16-point road win over Sacramento Kings. That night, Adams scored 44 points (on 17-26 shooting, 7-11 from beyond the arc) to go along with 10 dimes and 5 steals, against the team which didn’t give him a real chance to present his assets, already as a rookie.
But, many across the NBA still weren’t convinced that Adams actually belongs to the NBA elite.
He was again traded on June 11th, 1991, this time from Denver to Washington. In nation’s capital, playing for the head coach Wes Unseld, he was again on a mission of proving all of his critics wrong by shining as the Bullets floor general from 1991-92 until 1993-94.
The highlight of his NBA career came in 1991-92 when he was selected to represent Eastern Conference in the 1992 NBA All-Star Game in Orlando. In the losing effort, Adams scored 9 points (on 4-8 shooting) along with 4 steals, 1 dime and 1 board, while proving he can play at All-Star level.
NBA veteran closed down his career with the two productive seasons for Charlotte Hornets (1994-95 and 1995-96), thus providing a solid backup option for the team’s star, 5’3” Muggsy Bogues.
Murray A. a.k.a. Marjan Crnogaj is a BN contributor and the co-author of the Amazon.com TOP 100 basketball biography ‘Drazen – The Years of the Dragon’ (‘Drazen – Godine Zmaja’) which reveals the yet untold details from the life and career of the legendary NBA shooting guard Drazen Petrovic. He resides in Zagreb, Croatia, currently working on his third book which tells the untold story of the 1989 Green Card Five.