November 29, 1986

Saturday Night’s Main Event VIII

1. Randy Savage (with Miss Elizabeth) (c) fought Jake Roberts to a double disqualification for the WWF Intercontinental Championship, 9:30

2. Hulk Hogan (c) defeated Hercules Hernandez (with Bobby Heenan) for the WWF Championship, 6:30

3. Roddy Piper defeated Bob Orton (with Jimmy Hart), 3:48

4. The Killer Bees (Jim Brunzell and B. Brian Blair) defeated The Hart Foundation (Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart) (with Jimmy Hart), 9:00

5. Koko B. Ware defeated Nikolai Volkoff (with Slick), 2:30

6. The Magnificent Muraco (with Mr. Fuji) defeated Dick Slater, 2:05

October 27, 1986

American League awards [1986]

Roger Clemens had a record 20 strikeouts against the Mariners. Don Sutton won his 300th game. Bert Blyleven reached 3,000 strikeouts. Dave Righetti had a record 46 saves. Joe Cowley threw a no-hitter. Heisman Trophy winner Bo Jackson singled in his first at-bat.

Babe Ruth Award | Wade Boggs, Red Sox. 8 home runs, 71 RBIs, .357 batting average, .453 on-base percentage, .486 slugging percentage, 107 runs, 207 hits, 105 walks, 47 doubles. | A Real Rap Session

2. Roger Clemens, Red Sox
3. Don Mattingly, Yankees
4. Teddy Higuera, Brewers
5. Jesse Barfield, Blue Jays

Walter Johnson Award | Roger Clemens, Red Sox. 24-4, 2.48 ERA, 238 strikeouts and 67 walks in 254 innings, 10 complete games. Clemens had a record 20 strikeouts and no walks against the Mariners on April 29. | Striking Out Toward Cooperstown

Jackie Robinson Award | Mark Eichhorn, Blue Jays. 14-6, 1.72 ERA, 10 saves, 166 strikeouts and 45 walks in 157 innings. The Blue Jays invited Eichhorn to spring training, because they needed someone to throw batting practice.

2. Wally Joyner, Angels
3. Jose Canseco, Athletics

Connie Mack Award | Bobby Valentine, Rangers. 87-75 [.537] | Putting a Stop to a Long Slide

2. Pat Corrales, Cleveland
3. Gene Mauch, Angels

Catcher | Rich Gedman, Red Sox. 16 home runs, 65 RBIs, .258 batting average, .315 on-base percentage, .424 slugging percentage. Best fielder | Bob Boone, Angels.

First base | Don Mattingly, Yankees. 31 home runs, 113 RBIs, .352 batting average, .394 on-base percentage, .573 slugging percentage, 117 runs, 238 hits, 53 doubles. Best fielder | Mattingly | Mattingly Ends His Year Fittingly

Second base | Tony Bernazard, Cleveland. 17 home runs, 73 RBIs, .301 batting average, .362 on-base percentage, .456 slugging percentage. Best fielder | Frank White, Royals.

2. Lou Whitaker, Tigers

Third base | Wade Boggs, Red Sox. 8 home runs, 71 RBIs, .357 batting average, .453 on-base percentage, .486 slugging percentage, 107 runs, 207 hits, 105 walks, 47 doubles. 2. Gary Gaetti, Twins. Best fielder | Gaetti

Shortstop | Cal Ripken, Orioles. 25 home runs, 81 RBIs, .282 batting average, .355 on-base percentage, .461 slugging percentage, 35 doubles. 2. Alan Trammell, Tigers. Best fielder | Ripken

Left field | Jim Rice, Red Sox. 20 home runs, 110 RBIs, .324 batting average, .384 on-base percentage, .490 slugging percentage, 200 hits, 39 doubles.

Center field | Rickey Henderson, Yankees. 28 home runs, 74 RBIs, .263 batting average, .358 on-base percentage, .469 slugging percentage, 130 runs, 87 stolen bases. 2. Kirby Puckett, Twins. Best fielder | Gary Pettis, Angels.

Right field | Jesse Barfield, Blue Jays. 40 home runs, 108 RBIs, .289 batting average, .368 on-base percentage, .559 slugging percentage, 107 runs, 35 doubles. 2. Joe Carter, Cleveland.

Designated hitter | Larry Parrish, Rangers. 28 home runs, 94 RBIs, .276 batting average, .347 on-base percentage, .509 slugging percentage. 2. Don Baylor, Red Sox.

Starting rotation |

1. Roger Clemens, Red Sox
24-4, 2.48 ERA, 238 strikeouts and 67 walks in 254 innings, 10 complete games.

2. Teddy Higuera, Brewers. 20-11, 2.79 ERA, 207 strikeouts and 74 walks in 248.1 innings, 15 complete games. Fernando II. He is Mexican, he throws a screwball, and his middle name is Valenzuela. | Milwaukee Has Its Own Valenzuela

3. Mike Witt, Angels. 18-10, 2.84 ERA, 208 strikeouts and 73 walks in 269 innings, 14 complete games.

4. Jack Morris, Tigers. 21-8, 3.27 ERA, 223 strikeouts and 82 walks in 267 innings, 15 complete games, six shutouts.

5. Kirk McCaskill, Angels. 17-10, 3.36 ERA, 202 strikeouts and 92 walks in 246.1 innings, 10 complete games. 6. Tom Candiotti, Cleveland. 7. Bert Blyleven, Twins. 8. Bruce Hurst, Red Sox. 9. Jimmy Key, Blue Jays.

Reliever | Mark Eichhorn, Blue Jays. 14-6, 1.72 ERA, 10 saves, 166 strikeouts and 45 walks in 157 innings. 2. Dave Righetti, Yankees.
— Kevin Brewer

October 7, 1986

National League awards [1986]

Pete Rose, 45, went 5-for-5 on Aug. 11, then retired a week later with 4,256 hits. Mike Scott threw a no-hitter on Sept. 25, the first to clinch a league or division title. The Mets won the NL East by a record 21.5 games. Bob Horner hit four home runs in a loss to the Expos.

Babe Ruth Award | Mike Scott, Astros. 18-10, 2.22 ERA, 306 strikeouts and 72 walks in 275.1 innings, five shutouts. Scott used his split-fingered fastball to lead the league in ERA, innings pitched, strikeouts, strikeouts per 9 innings [10.0] and fewest hits per 9 innings [5.9].

2. Mike Schmidt, Phillies
3. Tony Gwynn, Padres
4. Tim Raines, Expos

Walter Johnson Award | Mike Scott, Astros.

Jackie Robinson Award | Todd Worrell, Cardinals. 9-10, 2.08 ERA, 36 saves, 73 strikeouts and 41 walks in 103.2 innings.

2. Barry Bonds, Pirates
3. Robby Thompson, Giants

Pee Wee Reese Award | Keith Hernandez, Mets. 13 home runs, 83 RBIs, .310 batting average, .413 on-base percentage, .446 slugging percentage, 94 walks.

Connie Mack Award | Davey Johnson, Mets. 108-54 [.667]

2. Hal Lanier, Astros
3. Roger Craig, Giants

Catcher | Gary Carter, Mets. 24 home runs, 105 RBIs, .255 batting average, .337 on-base percentage, .439 slugging percentage. Best fielder | Jody Davis, Cubs.

First base | Keith Hernandez, Mets. 2. Von Hayes, Phillies. 3. Glenn Davis, Astros. Best fielder | Davis

Second base | Steve Sax, Dodgers. 6 home runs, 56 RBIs, .332 batting average, .390 on-base percentage, .441 slugging percentage, 210 hits, 43 doubles, 40 stolen bases. Best fielder | Ron Oester, Reds.

Third base | Mike Schmidt, Phillies. 37 home runs, 119 RBIs, .290 batting average, .390 on-base percentage, .547 slugging percentage. Best fielder | Terry Pendleton, Cardinals.

Shortstop | Ozzie Smith, Cardinals. 0 home run, 54 RBIs, .280 batting average, .376 on-base percentage, .333 slugging percentage, 31 stolen bases. Best fielder | Smith

Left field | Tim Raines, Expos. 9 home runs, 62 RBIs, .334 batting average, .413 on-base percentage, .476 slugging percentage, 35 doubles, 10 triples, 70 stolen bases.

Center field | Kevin McReynolds, Padres. 26 home runs, 96 RBIs, .288 batting average, .358 on-base percentage, .504 slugging percentage. 2. Lenny Dykstra, Mets. Best fielder | Willie McGee, Cardinals.

Right field | Tony Gwynn, Padres. 14 home runs, 59 RBIs, .329 batting average, .381 on-base percentage, .467 slugging percentage, 107 runs, 211 hits, 37 stolen bases. 2. Kevin Bass, Astros. Best fielder | Bass

Outfield | Eric Davis, Reds. 27 home runs, 71 RBIs, .277 batting average, .378 on-base percentage, .523 slugging percentage, 80 stolen bases.

Starting rotation |

1. Mike Scott, Astros.
18-10, 2.22 ERA, 306 strikeouts and 72 walks in 275.1 innings, five shutouts.

2. Rick Rhoden, Pirates. 15-12, 2.84 ERA, 159 strikeouts and 76 walks in 253.2 innings, 12 complete games.

3. Fernando Valenzuela, Dodgers. 21-11, 3.14 ERA, 242 strikeouts and 85 walks in 269.1 innings, 20 complete games, 13 wild pitches.

4. Bobby Ojeda, Mets. 18-5, 2.57 ERA, 148 strikeouts and 52 walks in 217.1 innings.

5. Ron Darling, Mets. 15-6, 2.81 ERA, 184 strikeouts and 81 walks in 237 innings. 6. Dwight Gooden, Mets. 7. Bill Gullickson, Reds. 8. Bob Knepper, Astros.

Reliever | Todd Worrell, Cardinals. 9-10, 2.08 ERA, 36 saves, 73 strikeouts and 41 walks in 103.2 innings. 2. Lee Smith, Cubs.
— Kevin Brewer

July 10, 1986

1986 AL All-Star voting

CATCHER | 1. Lance Parrish, Detroit, 1,049,080.

2. Jim Sundberg, Kansas City, 489,003.

FIRST BASE | 1. Wally Joyner, California, 917,972.

2. Don Mattingly, New York, 783,846. 3. Eddie Murray, Baltimore. 4. Steve Balboni, Kansas City. 5. Willie Upshaw, Toronto. 6. Bill Buckner, Boston. 7. Darrell Evans, Detroit. 8. Kent Hrbek, Minnesota.

SECOND BASE | 1. Lou Whitaker, Detroit, 633,399.

2. Willie Randolph, New York, 526,714.

THIRD BASE | 1. George Brett, Kansas City, 1,257,432.

2. Wade Boggs, Boston, 1,172,529.

SHORTSTOP | 1. Cal Ripken, Baltimore, 1,486,806.

2. Alan Trammell, Detroit, 391,117. 3. Tony Fernandez, Toronto, 381,284.

OUTFIELD | 1. Rickey Henderson, New York, 1,027,144. 2. Dave Winfield, New York, 895,550. 3. Kirby Puckett, Minnesota, 736,328.

4. Reggie Jackson, California, 719,139.

1986 NL All-Star voting

CATCHER | 1. Gary Carter, New York, 1,486,141.

2. Tony Pena, Pittsburgh 486,972. 3. Terry Kennedy, San Diego 421,754. 4. Mike Fitzgerald, Montreal 375,185. 5. Jody Davis, Chicago 368,027. 6. Mike Scioscia, Los Angeles 345,319. 7. Mike Heath, St. Louis 185,986. 8. Ozzie Virgil, Atlanta 173,916.

FIRST BASE | 1. Keith Hernandez, New York, 995,279.

2. Steve Garvey, San Diego 858,032. 3. Pete Rose, Cincinnati 442,504. 4. Andres Galarraga, Montreal 397,314. 5. Jack Clark, St. Louis 364,975. 6. Will Clark, San Francisco 308,376. 7. Leon Durham, Chicago 246,307. 8. Bob Horner, Atlanta 240,064.

SECOND BASE | 1. Ryne Sandberg, Chicago, 1,054,770.

2. Steve Sax, Los Angeles 507,259. 3. Tommy Herr, St. Louis 474,912. 4. Johnny Ray, Pittsburgh 432,432. 5. Vance Law, Montreal 408,616. 6. Tim Flannery, San Diego 350,309. 7. Wally Backman, New York 285,911. 8. Bill Doran, Houston 271,256.

THIRD BASE | 1. Mike Schmidt, Philadelphia, 891,165.

2. Graig Nettles, San Diego 644,620. 3. Tim Wallach, Montreal 578,153. 4. Terry Pendleton, St. Louis 342,735. 5. Chris Brown, San Francisco 326,040. 6. Ron Cey, Chicago 299,351. 7. Ken Oberkfell, Atlanta 283,632. 8. Bill Madlock, Los Angeles 266,987.

SHORTSTOP | 1. Ozzie Smith, St. Louis, 1,379,870.

2. Hubie Brooks, Montreal 924,992. 3. Garry Templeton, San Diego 451,484. 4. Shawon Dunston, Chicago 325,161. 5. Dave Concepcion, Cincinnati 308,089. 6. Dickie Thon, Houston 236,386. 7. Mariano Duncan, Los Angeles 198,375. 8. Jose Uribe, San Francisco 172,873.

OUTFIELD | 1. Darryl Strawberry, New York, 1,619,511. 2. Dale Murphy, Atlanta, 1,256,198. 3. Tony Gwynn, San Diego, 987,943.

4. Tim Raines, Montreal 905,095. 5. Willie McGee, St. Louis 710,443. 6. Dave Parker, Cincinnati 624,374. 7. Vince Coleman, St. Louis 597,540. 8. Andre Dawson, Montreal 580,685. 9. Mike Marshall, Los Angeles 393,407. 10. Kevin McReynolds, San Diego 377,226. 11. Mitch Webster, Montreal 363,144. 12. Jose Cruz, Houston 345,808. 13. Chili Davis, San Francisco 325,804. 14. Jeffrey Leonard, San Francisco 286,206. 15. Keith Moreland, Chicago 278,547. 16. George Foster, New York 265,871.

June 9, 1986

NBA awards [1985-86]

The Knicks won the first draft lottery and selected Patrick Ewing with the top pick. The Kings moved from Kansas City to Sacramento. 5-foot-7 rookie Spud Webb won the Slam Dunk Contest. Larry Bird won the first Three-Point Shootout. David Stern banned Micheal Ray Richardson and Michael Jordan’s shoes.

Player of the Year | Larry Bird [Celtics] 25.8 points, 9.8 rebounds, 6.8 assists, 50.6 2-point shooting, 42.3 3-point shooting, 89.6 free throw shooting, 2.0 steals.

2. Magic Johnson [Lakers]
3. Dominique Wilkins [Hawks]
4. Charles Barkley [76ers]
5. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar [Lakers]

Rookie of the Year | Xavier McDaniel [SuperSonics] 17.1 points, 8.0 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 49.2 2-point shooting, 68.7 free throw shooting. Age [22]

Defensive Player of the Year | Larry Bird [Celtics] 2.0 blocks.

Sixth Man of the Year | Ricky Pierce [Bucks] 13.9 points, 2.9 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 55.0 2-point shooting, 85.8 free throw shooting.

Coach of the Year | K.C. Jones [Celtics] 67-15


Forward | Larry Bird [Celtics] 25.8 points, 9.8 rebounds, 6.8 assists, 50.6 2-point shooting, 42.3 3-point shooting, 89.6 free throw shooting, 2.0 steals. Age [29]

Forward | Dominique Wilkins [Hawks] 30.3 points, 7.9 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 47.9 2-point shooting, 81.8 free throw shooting. Age [26]

Center | Kareem Abdul-Jabbar [Lakers] 23.4 points, 6.1 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 56.5 2-point shooting, 76.5 free throw shooting. Age [38]

Point guard | Magic Johnson [Lakers] 18.8 points, 5.9 rebounds, 12.6 assists, 54.1 2-point shooting, 87.1 free throw shooting. Age [26]

Point guard | Sidney Moncrief [Bucks] 20.2 points, 4.6 rebounds, 4.9 assists, 50.9 2-point shooting, 85.9 free throw shooting. Age [28]


Forward | Charles Barkley [76ers] 20.0 points, 12.8 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 59.8 2-point shooting, 68.5 free throw shooting, 2.2 steals. Age [22]

Forward | Adrian Dantley [Jazz] 29.8 points, 5.2 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 56.7 2-point shooting, 79.1 free throw shooting. Age [29]

Center | Akeem Olajuwon [Rockets] 23.5 points, 11.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 52.6 2-point shooting, 64.5 free throw shooting, 2.0 steals, 3.4 blocks. Age [23]

Point guard | Isiah Thomas [Pistons] 20.9 points, 3.6 rebounds, 10.8 assists, 50.1 2-point shooting, 31.0 3-point shooting, 79.0 free throw shooting, 2.2 steals. Age [24]

Guard | Alvin Robertson [Spurs] 17.0 points, 6.3 rebounds, 5.5 assists, 52.1 2-point shooting, 79.5 free throw shooting, 3.7 steals. Age [23] Set the single-season record for steals per game.


Forward | Alex English [Nuggets] 29.8 points, 5.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 50.5 2-point shooting, 86.2 free throw shooting. Age [32]

Forward | Kevin McHale [Celtics] 21.3 points, 8.1 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 57.4 2-point shooting, 77.6 free throw shooting, 2.0 blocks. Age [28]

Center | Moses Malone [76ers] 23.8 points, 11.8 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 45.9 2-point shooting, 78.7 free throw shooting. Age [30]

— Kevin Brewer

January 18, 1986

The point forward: An oral history

The origin story of the point forward is disputed. The hybrid position — part point guard, part small forward and All-Star teammate — dates to the mid-1980s. Or the late 1970s. Depending on who you believe. John Johnson said he was the first point forward and that then Seattle SuperSonics coach Lenny Wilkens named the position. Point forward Marques Johnson said he coined the term, while longtime NBA coach Del Harris has always claimed ownership.

Harris is this story’s Kevin Bacon — the connective tissue in the biography of an idea. He was an assistant and later head coach with the Houston Rockets, playing Rick Barry and Robert Reid at point forward, and an assistant with the Milwaukee Bucks when Don Nelson started Paul Pressey at the position.

Nelson continued to build a reputation as the league’s mad scientist. He created Run TMC — the fast-paced trio of Tim Hardaway, Mitch Richmond and Chris Mullin — with the Golden State Warriors in the 1990s and developed 7-foot shooting forward Dirk Nowitzki and Steve Nash with the Dallas Mavericks in the 2000s. He also played Anthony Mason at point forward with New York Knicks and did the same with Stephen Jackson in his return to the Warriors. Nelson had five qualifications for his point forwards: (1) 6-foot-5 or taller (2) rebounding (3) 2.0 assist / turnover ratio (4) defense and (5) leadership.

Draymond Green meets all of Nelson’s criteria. The 6-foot-6 forward — who will play in his first All-Star Game on Sunday night — leads the NBA’s best team in rebounding (9.5) and assists (7.2) with a 2.5 assist / turnover ratio. He finished second in the Defensive Player of the Year voting last season, the tough guy conscience of the league’s best defensive team. He leads with his mouth, talking to opponents, teammates and himself. When the defending champion Warriors (48-4) visited the White House last week, President Obama praised Green for “showing us heart over height every night. Draymond’s also known to add a few more words that I can’t repeat.”

The point forward was born decades ago, in a gym somewhere, out of necessity. Or some other reason. This oral history — which is footnoted, no original interviews were conducted — is not a straight line. It starts and stops and starts again.


Rick Barry scored 25,279 points in 14 NBA and ABA seasons and led the Warriors to their first championship in 1975. He signed with the Rockets in June 1978.

MARQUES JOHNSON (All-Star forward, 1977-78 to 1989-90) | Rick Barry played [point forward] for Golden State when he ran their offense when Jamaal Wilkes was a rookie [in 1974-75]. [1., June 1, 2012]

Del Harris coached for more than 30 seasons in the NBA. He began his career as an assistant with the Rockets in 1976-77.

DEL HARRIS | Rick was one of the great passers of all time as a forward. We worked him with [Calvin] Murphy and Mike Newlin, neither of whom was true point guards — they were scorers. A lot of the stuff we ran, the guards would get it up the floor and then Rick would break into the middle, above the circle, get the ball, and then the main movement would begin. He would sort it out. He would make the plays. He was really the first guy to be utilized in that role very heavily. But there was no name attached to it.

RICK BARRY | I actually did that early in my career [played point forward]. In Houston, I ended up being totally misused. I was playing like a point guard, standing 30 feet from the basket, passing the ball and only shot 12 or 13 times a game. That team should have been so good. Even with John Lucas leaving, we should have been better. It was such a waste of talent it was unbelievable. Murphy and Newlin should have shared the two-guard position, Mike Dunleavy should have been used more and I should have been utilized more effectively, along with Rudy Tomjanovich and Moses Malone. [2., 2003]

SLICK WATTS (Rockets guard) | [Rick] and John Johnson probably developed the position point forward. They were the players who could see the floor, get the ball to people, as well as score. [3. Slick Watts’s Tales from the Seattle SuperSonics by Slick Watts and Frank Hughes, 2005]

Barry led his teams in assists seven times — six with the Warriors and once with the Rockets.


Harris replaced Tom Nissalke as Houston’s head coach in 1979-80 and played Robert Reid at point forward.

HARRIS | Robert could dribble, he could pass. He had a pass-first mentality. He was an unselfish player, but he could make a shot — you had to guard him. We would have Tommy [Henderson] bring it up the court and get it to Robert, then cut on through so his guy couldn’t just drop off in front of Moses [Malone]. … I came up with a name for the position. Robert was our point, but he was a forward, so I called him point forward.

Reid never led the Rockets in assists.

Lenny Wilkens coached 32 seasons, winning 1,332 games and one championship. As Seattle’s director of player personnel, Wilkens fired Bob Hopkins in December 1977 and named himself coach. He started John Johnson at small forward.

LENNY WILKENS | The small forward is supposed to be an offensive position supplying 15 to 20 points a game, but we needed our small forward to run the offense, like a point guard. [4. Unguarded: My Forty Years Surviving in the NBA by Lenny Wilkens and Terry Pluto, 2000]

JOHN JOHNSON | Lenny coined that phrase [point forward].

WILKENS | I knew JJ had a great understanding of the game, and so, after he’d rebound, I’d tell our guards: Just take off, and he’ll find you.

MARQUES JOHNSON | Johnny Johnson, we played Seattle in the playoffs [in 1980] … and he was the one who would bring the ball up the floor while Gus Johnson and DJ [Dennis Johnson] would curl off screens.

JOHN JOHNSON | I was a point forward before they called it a point forward. I ran the show — took all the weight off the guards. [5. The Associated Press, Jan. 9, 2016]

Johnson led the SuperSonics in assists twice. They won the NBA Finals in 1979 and lost in the Western Conference finals in 1980. Johnson died last month.


Marques Johnson made five All-Star teams with the Bucks and Los Angeles Clippers.

MARQUES JOHNSON | At the start of the playoffs, [Bucks coach] Don Nelson came up with the idea to initiate the offense through me at small forward. So after we went through how we were going to make the adjustments to different plays, my response to Nellie was, ‘OK, so instead of a point guard, I’m a point forward.’ I remember his response clear as mud, like it was yesterday, saying back to me, ‘Yeah. I like that. You’re my point forward.’ … I’m not so hung up on the whole deal to think that I’m the original point forward. … But my claim to fame is just coming up with point forward. The coinage of the term.

Johnson never led the Bucks in assists during the regular season or the 1984 playoffs.

Don Nelson — who won a record 1,335 games in 31 seasons with the Bucks, Warriors, Knicks and Mavericks — was in his ninth season with the Bucks in 1984-85.

Paul Pressey was in his third season with the Bucks.

NELSON | Both Marques and Press have done a good job at it, but Press has a better feel for the position. ... [Marques] didn’t feel confident being a point guard. So when he advanced the ball, we could only run a couple of offensive sets. With Press, we can run any of our sets. [6. Milwaukee Journal, Nov. 6, 1984]

Harris was an assistant on Nelson’s staff.

HARRIS | I remember it clearly. We were at a meeting at the American Club in Lake Geneva (Wis.), and Nellie said, ‘I’ve got Pressey and he’s got to play forward, but he’s not really a forward. He can pass. He can see over people. But I don’t know what to do with him.’ I said, ‘Well, you could use him as a point forward like I did with Robert Reid.’ Nellie just jumped all over that. He loved it and that’s the way it was from then on. Nellie was not shy and he talked a lot about it, so he gets credit for it. But Tom Nissalke started it, I named it and Nellie popularized it. That’s the honest truth.

PAUL PRESSEY | I loved it. Nellie put the ball in my hand, and he trusted that I was going to do the right thing as far as getting the ball to our scorers. It went over well with the other guys, because they knew I wasn’t going to be taking a whole lot of shots. I was going to be a playmaker. They were going to get their shots, so they were all for that.

NELSON | We did it to get the maximum out of Press’s skills. It allows us to release our guards, who are not real quick, earlier, and alleviates some of the pressure on them and gives me a chance to play two non-ball-handling guards, like Kevin Grevey and Sidney Moncrief, together. [7. The New York Times, Jan. 3, 1985]

HARRIS | I wouldn’t want to call Marques a liar, but when he saw what Paul was doing, he probably said, ‘I used to go up there and make plays. I was a point forward.’ But he was never called that, because I remember Nellie’s reaction when I told him about it.

NELSON | We gave it a name really to help give some identity to what Press is trying to do for us.

Pressey led the Bucks in assists three times and made three All-Defensive teams. The Bucks averaged 55 wins, losing in the Eastern Conference finals in 1986.


Larry Bird is probably the only player to use “point forward” derisively. In November 1989, Boston Celtics point guard Dennis Johnson criticized his teammates, including Bird, for selfish play.

BIRD | I’m always hot when I get the ball, when they call my play and let me shoot. I had no opportunity to shoot the ball in the first half. But I’m just going by what they tell me to do. I’m a point forward now. They want me to move the ball around and get it to open guys, so that’s what I’ll do. [8. Chicago Tribune, Dec. 3, 1989]

Bird led the Celtics in assists five times, including the 1989-90 season.

Scottie Pippen was a 6-foot-1 point guard when he walked on at Central Arkansas. Then he grew seven inches in college, becoming a forward with point guard skills. Pippen led his teams in assists nine times — eight with the Chicago Bulls and once with the Rockets — and helped lead the Bulls to six championships.

PRESSEY | I didn’t see him initially being that player. But he definitely could pass, he could shoot, he could handle the ball at 6-8. He played with Michael [Jordan] and B.J. Armstrong, guys who could make shots. [John] Paxson. All they had to do was spot up and be ready to shoot when he brang the ball up the floor.

SCOTTIE PIPPEN | I was LeBron James before LeBron James. [9. Northeast Ohio Media Group, June 29, 2015]

LEBRON JAMES | I’ve always looked at Scottie Pippen and of course Magic [Johnson]. Magic was a 6-9 point guard who could also play different positions. Pip played point forward in the triangle offense. Grant Hill, when he was in his prime in Detroit, was also kind of that point forward guy. [10., Sept. 28, 2012]

Grant Hill led the Pistons in assists five times.

DOUG COLLINS (Pistons coach, 1995-98) | [Hill] can dominate a game more subtly by getting the ball to open people, by rebounding and, with two dribbles, getting his team into the open floor the way Magic did as a rookie.


LeBron James has led his teams in assists every season of his career. On Feb. 25, 2015, he broke Pippen’s record for most assists by a forward.

JAMES (on the assists record) | When I started to shape my game, I kind of knew that that point forward was something that was going to be my trademark. Obviously, I looked up to Michael Jordan. That’s someone that gave me a lot of inspiration, but as a kid I never thought that I could get to that point. You know, Jordan just felt so surreal. Pippen and Anfernee Hardaway and Allen Iverson were those guys that I kind of really, really thought that I could be. [11., Feb. 25, 2015]

MARQUES JOHNSON | LeBron is probably better than anybody, and one of the best in the league at any position, in pushing the ball up with sheer speed.

JAMES | Honestly, even if I say I don’t want to play it, I am playing it. I play it on the court every night, being the point forward. I bring the ball up a lot for this team. I initiate a lot of the offense. At the same time, I can create for myself also. Just like Pippen did. People look at Grant Hill in his heyday when he did a lot of those things, too.


Point forwards have marked the history of the game. On’s recent list of the best small forwards of all time, five fit the profile of a point forward: LeBron, Bird, Pippen, Barry and John Havlicek, who led the Celtics in assists six times. Among the leaders in career triple-doubles, four are point forwards: Bird, LeBron, Havlicek and Hill. Draymond Green leads the league with 10 triple-doubles this season.

In the lineage of point forwards, Green is most similar to Pippen — a versatile two-way player, the indispensable guy beside the guy, the wingman for the best player in the game. Michael Jordan, Pippen and the Bulls won a record 72 games in 1996. Stephen Curry, Green and the Warriors are on pace to break that record this season.

The Warriors win with pace and space and a point forward who sometimes plays center. Like the game itself, the point forward is constantly evolving.