By Budd Bailey, Buffalo Sports Page Columnist
No. 77: November 23, 1977 – The 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)