By Budd Bailey, Buffalo Sports Page Columnist
No. 48 – February 1, 1976 – The Braves trade Gar Heard and a second-round draft choice in 1975 (Al Fleming) to Phoenix for John Shumate.
Gar Heard proved to be a great fit when he was acquired by the Braves in 1973. In 1973-74, he averaged about 35 minutes a game in his first season, and scored about 15 points per game – both career highs. Heard was one of five Braves’ starters to average in double figures in scoring – the first team ever to do that.
The problem was that Heard was only 6-6, which made him a bit undersized in the NBA as a power forward. Since center Bob McAdoo didn’t hang out around the basket that often, the Braves had some rebounding problems in certain situations. That was the reasoning for the deal that sent Heard to Phoenix for John Shumate, a bigger forward.
Shumate never averaged more rebounds per game than he did as a Brave, almost 10 per game. He was sent to the Pistons in the ill-fated Marvin Barnes deal less than two years later. Heard landed in Phoenix, and was part of the team that reached the NBA Finals in 1976. You might remember his game-tying, long-distance shot at the buzzer that tied Game Five of that series with the Celtics. Boston won that game – one the best in NBA history – in three overtimes, and then captured the title.
(Follow Budd on Twitter @WDX2BB)