Eleven years ago Chris Kaman walked off the court as Central Michigan Chip for the last time and was subsequently drafted 6th overall by Donald Sterling's Los Angeles Clippers. Kaman has gone on to log more than 600 career NBA games, averaged just under 12 PPG, 8 RPG and at the age of the 32 is heading down the homestretch on what has been a solid NBA career. While Kaman's career will hardly go down as remarkable in the history books for NBA big men; he does represent that MAC's last productive NBA talent.
If you are under the age of 30 and over the course of the last 10 years have watched MAC Basketball with any regularity, what I am about to say may in fact sound like lunacy, but there was a time in the not so distant past that soon to be NBA players were on display at a MAC arena near you on a nightly basis! For me this "Golden Era" that I thought as a teenager was the norm has become anything but in recent years.
Over a modest five year stretch, when the MAC Tournament would visit the University of Toledo's then Savage Hall and Downtown Toledo's Seagate Centre the following players walked onto the court and put on a show; Gary Trent, Ira Newble, Antonio Daniels, Bonzi Wells, Earl Boykins and Wally Szczerbiak. Those six former MAC stars would go on to log over 3,600 combined NBA games played. It was an era that created my love for MAC basketball and it was a brief period of time that likely will never be repeated.
Following this run in the late 90's the MAC schools as a whole began to invest more heavily in football, let basketball facilities deteriorate, failed to hang on to some good coaches and watched leagues like the Valley, CAA, or WCC pass them buy.
The MAC had a lot of talent on the court not all that long ago; I did not appreciate it then because I thought it was the norm. By the way in case you were curious, since Chris Kaman no MAC basketball player has played in more than 65 total games and only 3 have appeared in any game at all.