(Note: This post was originally posted on August 3, but since I just got syndicated by Basketball Reference and this post was too far back, I wanted to bring it up to the front.)
A post about career lows in blocks per game led me to discover that 5-3 mighty mite legend Muggsy Bogues blocked 39 shots in his long and productive career. This stirred something within me and I wanted to look at all of them. Sadly – all of Muggsy’s blocks came before the advent of play-by-play data, which means it is very difficult to figure out who was the recipient of the block! Searching “Muggsy Bogues Blocks” just brings up a million repeats of that one time he blocked Patrick Ewing. So instead I looked for a similar, more recent player. Enter Earl Boykins. Listed on Basketball Reference at 5 feet 5 inches and a svelte 135 pounds, Earl had 34 blocks in his career and we are going to look at them ALL. This is every Earl Boykins block ever.
34. Feb. 9, 2000 vs. Charlotte
Earl wasn’t drafted, and spent his first two years in the NBA bouncing from the Nets to the Cavs to the Magic and back to the Cavs. His first recorded block is the only one that Basketball Reference doesn’t have play-by-play for, so I can’t say for sure who was the victim of this block. But since David Wesley was the only player under 6’3″ that the Hornets ran out that night, we’re going to hazard a guess that he was the victim of the very first Earl Boykins block.
Update: I actually found a gif that might possibly be of this block. It appears to be Boykins blocking David Wesley. Now, Boykins blocked Wesley one other time, but it was in December. This gif is from ESPN and features the headline “Selection Sunday”, which would put it in late February or early March? Not a perfect match, but closer than December. Looking at it more, this could easily have been scored a steal and not a block – it probably isn’t, but I’m gonna leave the gif here for your closer inspection.
33. Feb. 18, 2002 vs. Portland
The low ranking for this block isn’t necessarily for the block itself, one of two Earl had against Damon Stoudamire. Instead it comes from what happened at the end of the game. Stoudamire made a shot with three seconds left to put Portland up one against Earl’s Clippers. Earl had a shot to win the game, but ironically got his own shot blocked and the Clippers lost.
26-32. Mar. 14, 2004 vs. Utah; Nov. 6, 2004 vs. Utah; Nov. 20, 2005 vs. Memphis; Mar. 6, 2006 vs. Memphis; Jan. 6, 2010 vs. Cleveland; Mar. 16 vs. Denver; Jan. 21, 2011 vs. Cleveland
Lumped together here are a bunch of blocks that didn’t have much impact on the game. All of these were blocks in games that weren’t particularly close, and the opposite team rebounded the ball after the block, retaining possession. These are also against players who were either short, or mostly ground-bound, including Mo Williams, Keith McCloud, Bobby Jackson, Chauncey Billups and Ramon Sessions.
20-25. Jan. 13, 2003 vs. Memphis; Nov. 17, 2004 vs. Toronto; Feb. 16, 2005 vs. Charlotte, Feb. 25, 2005 vs. Memphis; Nov. 15, 2005 vs. Dallas; Feb. 16, 2011 vs. Denver
Another set of low impact blocks – these ones at least came in close games. But they are still against mostly ground-bound players, none came in the 4th quarter, and they likely didn’t have a huge affect on the outcome of the game. Blocked players include Brevin Knight, Rafer Alston, Earl Watson (dueling Earls!), Jason Terry and Chauncey Billups.
17-19. Jan. 26, 2002 vs. Dallas; Apr. 12, 2003 vs. Dallas; Feb. 9, 2005 vs. Minnesota
The only exceptional thing about these three blocks is the size of the humans that were blocked. Two of these came against 6’8″ human Eduardo Najera, and the other against 6’7″ human Wally Szczerbiak. That’s over a foot disparity in height – it’s like if an Oompa Loompa blocked one of Earl’s own shots! (Deep Roy, who played the role of Oompa Loompa in the newer version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, stands 4’4″).
12-16. Dec. 18, 2002 vs. Charlotte; Nov. 14, 2003 vs. Orlando; Jan. 26, 2004 vs. Minnesota; Apr. 19, 2005 vs. Portland; March 30, 2010 vs. Houston
This section is for the CLUTCH blocks – each of these five blocks occurred in the 4th quarter when the game was within two points. Boykins actually had nearly half of his career blocks in the 4th quarter. This group of victims includes another block of David Wesley, Sam Cassell, Tyronn Lue, Sebastian Telfair and Aaron Brooks.
9-11. Feb. 2, 2005 vs. Portland; Dec. 6, 2006 vs. Atlanta; Jan. 22, 2011 vs. Memphis
The last grouping of shots includes those where the block caused a shot clock violation – this is an especially effective block because it guarantees a turnover, no need to try to direct the ball or scramble for the loose ball. Shot clock expirations are demoralizing, and I would guess even more so when a 5’5″ marvel has just blocked your shot.
Victims of this type are Greivis Vasquez, Tyronn Lue, and Damon Stoudamire – who was attempting a 3 pointer with 2 1/2 minutes left in the game when he got shut down. Vicious!
8. Feb. 27, 2005 vs. New Orleans
The block against Dan Dickau may not have been anything spectacular, but when considered alongside Boykins’ two free throws to put away the game for good – it makes for a great game.
7. Jan. 25, 2003 vs. Utah
This one is special, as it is the only block Boykins has against a current member of the Basketball Hall of Fame (though two others will be there soon enough). Earl got a block against John Stockton – I bet he still remembers that one. Unfortunately, Stockton got the ball back and quickly made a patented Stockton-to-Malone pass, but still, blocking a Hall of Famer is good enough for number 7 in this countdown.
6. Mar. 1, 2005 vs. Atlanta
Atlanta was bad in 2004-05 – really bad. And it must have been frustrating to play for them. So Tyronn Lue probably wasn’t enjoying his job all that much. Down 11 in the 4th quarter, looking at yet another loss. Add to that getting your shot blocked by Earl Boykins, and then a minute later having the ball stolen from you. It’s not surprising that Lue snapped and swung two punches at Eduardo Najera. Lue, of course, was ejected and the Nuggets went on to win by 23 points.
5. Nov. 14, 2006 vs. Miami
In November 2006, Dwyane Wade was coming off one of the great Finals performances of all time. He was nearly unstoppable. In this game, too – he ended with 37 points. But somehow, in the heat of the 4th quarter, one point game, Earl Boykins managed to block Wade’s shot, causing a shot clock violation. This sparked the Nuggets on an 11-2 run that put the game away for good. Of all the blocks – this is the one I wish I could have found video of.
4. Jan. 3, 2005 vs. LA Clippers
This one didn’t impact the game much, but was one of the few that I was able to find video of – and this Earl Boykins block is spectacular! Lionel Chalmers on the break for the LA Clippers and then this happens:
2-3. Nov. 4, 2004 vs. Minnesota
This is Boykins’ only two-block game – and it kicked off his best (by far) season for blocks. In the next four months, Boykins would block 11 shots! In this game, Sam Cassell was the victim both times, key blocks that mattered – since the game went into overtime.
Then with six seconds left in overtime, Professor Andre Miller found Boykins, who buried a jumper to put the Nuggets up two. One missed KG jumper later and the Timberwolves had won their 2004-05 home opener, thanks to the shotblocking and shooting prowess of Earl Boykins.
1. Jan. 10, 2006 vs. Phoenix
Boykins crowning achievement in shotblocking goes to this one in a wild, 3-overtime game vs. the Suns. Earl took over in the first overtime, starting it off with a stunning block on a 20 footer from the reigning (and future) MVP Steve Nash, causing a shot-clock violation. On the very next play he drew contact from Nash and finished a 3 point play the old-fashioned way. Earl scored 9 points in the first overtime and narrowly missed ending the game with a last second shot. He made up for that miss by finding Carmelo Anthony at the end of the third overtime for the win, finishing the game with 33 points, 8 assists, and 1 KEY Earl Boykins block.
Final Stats for Earl Boykins’ shotblocking career:
Total Blocks: 34
Most Blocks in a Season: 12 (04-05)
Most Blocks against Team: 5 (Memphis Grizzlies)
Earliest Block: 47 seconds left in the 1st quarter
Latest Block: 4:34 left in the 1st overtime
Most Blocks against Player: 3 (Sam Cassell & Tyronn Lue)
Most Blocks per Quarter: 15 (4th Quarter)
Blocks at Rim: 9
Longest shot Blocked: 25 feet (twice)
Caused Shot Clock Expiration: 5 times
Hall of Famers Blocked: 1 (John Stockton)
Probable future HoF Blocked: 2 (Dwyane Wade & Steve Nash)
Tallest Player Blocked: Eduardo Najera (listed at 6’8″)