By Budd Bailey, Buffalo Sports Page Columnist

No. 77: November 23, 1977The Braves trade John Shumate, Gus Gerard, and a first-round draft choice in 1979 (Roy Hamilton) to Detroit for Marvin Barnes, a second-round draft choice in 1978 (Lew Massey) and a fourth-round draft choice in 1978 (Larry Harris).

The Braves thought they needed a little toughness up front during the course of the 1977-78 season. John Shumate was more of a finesse player as power forwards go. And who was tougher than Marvin Barnes? The All-American at Providence College was undeniably rugged, and talented.

It led to the trade with the Pistons, featuring Shumate and Barnes and included some other pieces. The Braves celebrated by handing out a poster at a game with a photo of Barnes and the caption, “Buffalo is Marvin’s Garden.”

However, the Braves apparently were one of the few teams in the league that didn’t know that Barnes had a serious cocaine problem. His inconsistencies were maddening, and he was out of the NBA by 1980. He’s one of basketball’s biggest “what if?” stories. Shumate was waived by the Pistons two years after the deal, but he played for other teams through 1981.

(Follow Budd on Twitter @WDX2BB)

Budd Bailey

Budd Bailey has been involved in almost every aspect of the local sports scene for the last 40 years. He worked for WEBR Radio, the Buffalo Sabres' public relations department and The Buffalo News during that time. In that time he covered virtually every aspect of the area's sports world, from high schools to the Bills and Sabres and everything in between. Along the way, Budd served as a play-by-play announcer for the Bisons, an analyst for the Stallions, and a talk-show host. He won the National Lacrosse League's Tom Borrelli Award as the media personality of the year in 2011, and was a finalist for that same award in 2017. Budd's seventh and eighth books, one on the Transcontinental Railroad and the other about Ichiro Suzuki, are scheduled to be released in the fall.

Leave a Reply