While watching the Chicago Bulls vs Philadelphia 76ers series something dawned on me. 76ers center Spencer Hawes is working on becoming the new Greg Ostertag. I say this in the highest regard because you typically don’t remember, think about, or even know NBA players that are just average. Lets do a little test. Do you know/remember who Adrian Griffin is? How about Rasual Butler? Monty Williams? Dave Corzine? The casual NBA fan may know a few of those guys but they probably can’t tell you much about them. Bring up the name Greg Ostertag and I’m guessing that people can tell you a few things about him:
1. He was a tall white dude that played for the Utah Jazz.
2. He went to Kansas.
3. His number was 00.
That’s three things that are very easy to remember about a player that averaged 4.6 ppg and 5.5 boards over his career. Somehow Greg Ostertag defied logic and was able to be remembered even though his playing career shouldn’t have been.
This brings me to Spencer Hawes. When Hawes was on the Sacramento Kings he was #31. There’s nothing special about #31, especially if that player isn’t throwing down windmill dunks like Darvin Ham (he wore than number in 98′ with the Wizards). Since coming over from the Kings to the 76ers, Hawes wisely changed his number to 00. Wearing double zero is a bold statement. It’s says that you are an outlaw and don’t need a number. This number is so unique that basketball is the only major sport where anyone currently wears a double zero. Wearing zero or double zero is so unique that I can tell you a few players that rocked it off the top of my head (Gilbert Arenas, Orlando Woolridge, Brendan Haywood). There’s no reason why I should know that but I do. It’s the power of the zero. This was the first step towards becoming the new Greg Ostertag.
The next step that Hawes took to solidifying himself as the next Greg Ostertag is sending out this tweet earlier this year when Ostertag was trying to make a comeback in the NBDL. Greg Ostertag had not played since the 05-06′ season and that year he averaged 2.4 ppg and 3.8 boards. Why anyone cared that he tried to make a comeback 5 years later is absolutely baffling. He was significantly below average then so imagine what he would be like 5 years later. Despite all this Spencer Hawes made it a point to give him a shout out. I didn’t see Kobe or Lebron doing this. Even better was the fact that Hawes dropped the #00 at the end. It’s almost like double zero is some sort of secret fraternity that bonds people together.
The most obvious thing that Ostertag and Hawes have in common is that they are 7 foot white guys. It’s easy to remember white guys in the NBA because there are so few of them. They are like endangered Chinese Pandas. You remember when you see one.
The thing that Spencer Hawes has going for him is that he is actually a better player than Greg Ostertag ever was. Hawes has averaged double digit points twice in his five year career (which Ostertag never did once) and is coming off a decent 9.6 ppg, 7.3 boards season. Despite those numbers Hawes isn’t anywhere close to Greg Ostertag status. Hawes is a relatively unknown because he’s only been in the league for five years and in those his teams have had limited success. Ostertag got noticed because he was on those Stockton to Malone Utah Jazz teams that were always contending for a Western Conference title. When the casual fan checked in to watch the NBA playoffs there was Greg Ostertag rocking the double zero, standing in the lane being a tall white dude. After seeing that for 11 seasons something got burned into all of our brains: Greg Ostertag. White Dude. Utah Jazz. #00.
People are quick to anoint players the next Michael Jordan but we all know there won’t be another Michael Jordan. I doubt that we’ll ever see another Greg Ostertag but if someone’s got a chance it’s Spencer Hawes.
Spencer Hawes – AtTheHive.com/Getty Images
Greg Ostertag – Hoopedia.NBA.com