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 wasBlue Edwards). Of course if Dontae' Joneshad his way, we'd all know him as Mr 615.