Chris Gatling is one of my favorite basketball players of all-time, so hereâ€™s probably my largest project ever. Iâ€™m not really a mixmaker, I prefer making simple montages about particular games, however I just had to go through with this idea for a mix. What Iâ€™ve always liked about mixes is simply good footage and music (a la Yinka Dare), so I tried my best to do the same here. The mix is split in two parts, so if you get bored watching the Warriors part - 4:26 starts off his career as a journeyman. Anyway…
I consider Chris Gatling to be one of the most underrated players, one of the best bench players and one of the most hard-working players of the 90s. Iâ€™ve never understood why he was never appreciated by his head coaches and seems to be forgotten nowadays. Maybe itâ€™s simply bad luck, because he never got his break. To start off, Chris might have even never played professional basketball. At the age of 18, Gatling nearly had the game taken away from him. A junior at high school who was already being recruited by Division I schools, he was stretching to wipe the windshield of a van owned by his fatherâ€™s office-maintenance company when he slipped and struck his head on the pavement. He spent 2 weeks in a coma. Though he would bounce back quickly enough to be named the stateâ€™s Player of the Year as a senior, over the next four years at Pitt and at Old Dominion, he would continue to experience headaches, disorientation and problems with coordination. In the summer of 1989, he had a second operation, which included the implantation of a linoleum and steel-mesh plate. Since then he has only occasionally suffered from slurred speech. Cliff Robinson definitely came before him, however Gat is one of the pioneers of the head-band. Although many assume Gatling started wearing headbands to cover those scars, he started doing it for fun and itâ€™s supposedly a way to remind himself that heâ€™s happy to be alive.
He started off his career as a valuable bench player for Don Nelsonâ€™s Warriors. Gatling relied on his athleticism and helped out the team on court with his energy. His body during the Golden State days reminds me more of a tall small forward, since he could run the floor nicely, block some shots and attack the basket. Although he was extremely efficient (his field goal percentage for a season was never worse than 53,9%), he and Nellie had their differences. I only know for a fact that Nelson wasnâ€™t really happy with the shape Gatling reported in for pre-season during one particular year, yet I canâ€™t find any other explanation for Chris never averaging more than 25 minutes per game (while his stats per 36 minutes where constantly around 18 points and 10 rebounds).
After being traded to Miami (in 1996), The Energizer started a journey through seven other NBA franchises, which is even more ridiculous. Chris was already approaching his 30′s and he had added a number of deadly post moves (a reliable hook shot and a move that reminds me of Dirk Nowitzkiâ€™s signature step-back (check out 7:48)) and had worked on the range of his jump-shot. Itâ€™s easy to notice how he has turned into a crafty power forward in the second half of his career. By averaging 19 points and 8 rebounds (only playing 27 (!!!) minutes per game, being 9th in field goal percentage, scoring less points per minute only than Michael Jordan) during the 96-97 season with the Dallas Mavericks, Gatling made the all-star team. The only player to ever put up 19/8 in 27 minutes was Harry Gallatin in the 50s. With this statline Gatling became the only bench player to lead his team in points and rebounds in the history of the league (I donâ€™t know whether Gallatin was a starter or a 6th man, they might share this honor). But what did the Mavs do? Trade him to New Jersey during mid-season. It seems like every NBA coach knew how good Chris was, every NBA commentator (Iâ€™ve heard this from Chick Hearn, Johnny “Red” Kerr, per example) was baffled about Gatling being traded so often, yet it still happened. Thatâ€™s pretty much the sad part of his career. He never got to settle down with a team that he likes. In my opinion, he could have been an important role player for a championship team. I know that he called out Pat Riley for this particular reason. Pat had promised him a place in Miami for several years, only to trade him months later. After being traded by Dallas, The Gat Man never trusted a GM again and even didnâ€™t bother to buy a house and stayed in hotels.
Itâ€™s also sad to see that he doesnâ€™t seem to be doing very well after his career. There is a ridiculous amount of bad rumours about him on the web, he supposedly has betrayed his children, doesnâ€™t pay child support and is constantly on the run. I remember somebody saying that he was last seen as a bartender in Phoenix. I honestly donâ€™t know whether you can believe this, but I remember finding (I guess it still has to be around) an entry in a blog about Gatling and about ten of his ex-girlfriends appeared to drop a comment that heâ€™s a scam artist and a very bad person. These negative references about Chris seem to be all over internet, so I donâ€™t really know if you can believe it.
Anyway, best of luck to Chris where ever he is. No matter what, he was one heck of a player.