Nate Tiny Archibald: A Champion for “Life”

Some ballplayers demand attention. A good many become able to command that attention.

But only a select few talents make you go “Wow!” at your first glimpse – and continue to do so for as long as they play.

I’d never heard the name Nate Archibald until this blur kept going across the screen of my little. Portable, black-and-white TV one Saturday afternoon in 1970. Tiny tore ‘em up that day before moving on to the NBA where he’d lead the league in both scoring and assists in 1972-73, overcome a career-threatening Achilles injury, and help facilitate the Celtics’ return to the top of the mountain.

While the circumstances of his arrival in Boston were genuinely unique – two owners swapping franchises and sundry personnel – there was no one more ecstatic than Yours Truly when the C’s acquired the nearly 30-year-old Tiny Dynamo in the summer of 1978.

Just a few months ago, that very name arose every bit as stunningly as it had captured my 13-year-old eye back in the day. It had been reported that Nate Archibald had been diagnosed with an incurable heart ailment, Amyloidosis. Ironically, the discovery was made during an overall health screening made available to retired players through the most-recent extension of the league’s CBA with its players.

Since his diagnosis, Tiny has devoted significant time to educating and encouraging (to limited success, it would unfortunately seem) his fellow retirees to access these newly-available benefits, which include pre-paid health insurance.

Just a couple of weeks ago – with limited media acknowledgment (?) – Nate underwent successful heart-transplant surgery.

Here’s a post-surgery interview with the Hall of Famer – worth a minute of your time.

images: AP; NBA; Yahoo