I felt it was time for me to combine two of my favorite things: (1) recurring posts; and (2) pathetic longing (the third would be steamy Latin looks in case you’re curious). Thus I unveil “You Coulda Been a Contender”, which will be a weekly (or monthly, or daily, or bi-weekly…it’s my decision) post in which I revisit an athlete (or actor, model, fictional character…again…my decision) who showed flashes of brilliance, only to squander it.
Since the ’92-’93 Suns are the hallmark team of my youth and I can still name the entire roster off the top of my head (including Tim Kempton), I figure I’ll begin with Richard Dumas.
After being selected by the Suns with the 46th pick in the 1991 NBA Draft out of Oklahoma State, Dumas was suspended for his entire rookie campaign for violating the NBA’s substance abuse policy. Certainly an ominous beginning, but 19 games into the ’92-’93 season, Dumas joined the Suns and quickly took off, averaging 15.8 points per game and 4.6 rebounds in 27 minutes per game. Pretty disgusting numbers considering he was no better than the 4th option on the team behind Barkley, KJ, and Dan Majerle . I actually still vividly remember his first game, on December 18th against the Lakers, where he put up 16 points in only 17 minutes. Dumas carried his act into the playoffs, exceeding 16 points on 7 different occasions during the Suns march to the NBA Finals, culminating in a 25 point performance in Game 5 of those Finals (on 12 of 14 shooting). Unfortunately that was the peak.
Following that season (July 25th, 1993), Dumas and the Suns agreed on a long-term contract. Dumas opted to celebrate this contract by embracing his old friend cocaine, his drug of choice. He followed that by checking himself into rehab and was then suspended for a year and a half by the NBA. Mid-way through the ’94-’95 campaign Dumas re-appeared briefly with the Suns, but he wasn’t the same player, averaging less than 6 points per game in just 15 games. The next year Dumas finished his brief NBA career by playing for the 76ers, then played in obscurity for the remainder of his career with teams in Greece and the USBL.
I’ve always looked at Dumas as one of the greatest cases of wasted potential that nobody talks about. He could run, jump, shoot, defend, AND he knew the game. He was 24 the spring the Suns made their Finals run, and only stood to get better. His mere existence on the floor made everyone around him more dangerous. Playing alongside Charles Barkley, and assuming a basic evolution in Dumas’ game, the Suns could have had the most dangerous front-court in the league by the next season. It was a shame Dumas couldn’t stay clean because, as you will see in the clip below, he had all the skills (except for you know…not doing cocaine).
The clip is long but worth it: