In this week's episode of What the Hell Happened To?, we look back at the epitome of an NBA backup point guard.  Vernell Coles was a 6'2 guard from Virgina Tech.  That name may not ring a bell since you probably remember him by his nickname, Bimbo.

Bimbo Coles was drafted by the Kings in the second round of the 1990 draft but before ever playing for Sacramento was shipped to Miami for Rory Sparrow.  He'd play with the Heat for his first 5.5 seasons, and actually put up over 10 ppg for three of those campaigns.  Since the Heat were such a young franchise, Coles would actually set the Miami Franchise record for assists while he was there.  There's a better chance of Kendrick Perkins making two consecutive free throws five straight times then of this record still being held.

During the 1996 season he was dealt to Golden State for Tim Hardaway.  He'd last 3.5 seasons in Golden State before being traded for another superior point guard, Mookie Blaylock, to the Hawks.  He'd go on to sign with the Cavs in the summer of 2000 and stay in Cleveland for the next 2.5 years.

In March of 2003, he'd sign on with the Celtics for their stretch-run.  He was part of the trio of veterans who all went to the Celtics that season.  But I'm not talking veterans in the mold of Sam Cassell, Stephon Marbury or Michael Finley.  The three were Mark Bryant, Grant Long and Coles.  Not sure if they thought they'd realistically have a shot to win it all.  (Do you think they all got together like Wade, Bosh and LeBron and said 'let's go get this championship with the Celts' ?) Bimbo would play in 14 regular season games for the Celtics that year and 3 playoff games.  He averaged 3.7 ppg in 12.5 minutes during the regular season and in the playoffs, he didn't score in the 10 minutes he played during the three games.  Amazingly enough, those 3 playoff games with the Celtics were 3 of 11 total playoff games he ever played.  He went a decade between being in the playoffs, since his last appearance was in 1994 with the Heat.

He'd finish his career where he started it the following season, playing 22 games with Miami.
In hindsight the reason Coles probably had so few playoff games was because he was not a starting caliber point guard; he was the quintessential backup.  And for his career he started 354 of 852 games he played in (thanks again David Stern for over-expansion).  I remember him having a decent mid-range shot.  All other areas, there's nothing of his game that really stands out.  He really epitomized back-up point guard.  If you could think of the characteristics a backup point  guard should have (heady play, good handle, won't turn the ball over that much) Coles fit the bill.  How else can you explain him playing 14 seasons in the NBA?

Now the good stuff on Bimbo.  First off you're probably wondering how did he get this nickname?  His cousin really enjoyed the country song "Bimbo" by Faron Young, and affectionately gave it to him.  Now have you ever heard the song "Bimbo" by Faron Young?  I doubt it.  Unfortunately, youtube took down the Faron version, but here is Jim Reeves doing his rendition

This is bizarre to me.  How did that nickname stick?

A few more interesting things about Bimbo.  First the name Vernell- I never heard of such a name but with Vernon Maxwell and Vern Fleming it proved there could be 3 variations of the name Vern.  However no one knows him by that name, simply Bimbo.  Secondly he was actually drafted in the 1990 MLB draft by the California Angels (he sort of reminded me of Luis Polonia a bit, no?)  Lastly he's the second WTHHT star who is known better by his nickname of Bimbo (first was Blue Edwards).  Of course if Dontae' Jones had his way, we'd all know him as Mr 615.

Today Bimbo is the fitness director at Greenbrier Physical Therapy & Fitness in Lewisburg, West Virgina.  Not surprisingly in his description it states:
"He was utilized primarily as a backup point guard." 
Now what it should've said was:
"He should have been utilized primarily as a backup point guard but because of David Stern's lust for money and expansion, was forced to start 42% of the games he played."

For a complete list of the "What the Hell Happened To" Series please click here.

tb727 8/01/2010 12:01:00 AM Edit
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12 Responses so far.

  1. Bohemian says:

    Bimbo Coles! hahaha! a classic PG that had the priviledge of wearing Celtics green. He wasn't bad at all, but nothing special at all...just that catchy name :D

    Great article, TB.

  2. tb727 says:

    Haha thanks Bohemian. Did you listen to that song called "Bimbo" lol?

  3. JR says:

    That "Bimbo" song is very catchy. I can't believe Coles, Long and Bryant all came in 2003. Without checing basketball reference I would have guessed they were all retired before 2000. Was these signing by the Buffoon?

  4. Anonymous says:

    wow bimbo coles, alaa abdelnaby, and mark bryant LMAO. a blast from the past.

  5. tb727 says:

    I know! That Bimbo song was stuck in my head all day yesterday. And yes you better believe it was the Buffoon. Ainge came the following season.

  6. Anonymous says:

    What happend with....B. Coles?

    That question ist not answered. What you only give is just an abstract of his NBA Career.

    I expected someting like that...he lives now in Florida with his wife and 5 children, he´s playing golf sometimes and make´s some social work with poor children.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Why don't you read the article, it says what he does at the end- he works at a fitness club today.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Well, to any Hokie, Bimbo Coles will always be remembered as the best basketball player to ever suit up for Va Tech (Dell Curry might be the only one who could argue against this). He was an exciting and prolific scorer in college and 2 time conference MVP. He also started for John Thompson on the pre-Dream Team olympic squad in 1988. Bimbo was an excellent defender and this is probably the main reason he survived 14 years in the NBA.

  9. Anonymous says:

    At Va Tech, Bimbo was lightning fast, could shoot and score off the dribble and was a great defender. I didn't know that he was drafted by the California Angels - but I do recall that coming out of high school he was the top football player in the state of West Va (and was heavily recruited by WVU). Overall a great athlete.

  10. Bohemian says:

    Bimbo in Celtic green against Iverson:


  11. tb727 says:

    Haha you're the master of finding those Bohemian, I gotta add it in there!

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