A Look Back on Spud Webb’s Legacy

Today’s younger generation of basketball fan is familiar with Boston Celtics guard Nate Robinson. Standing at only 5’9 in a league where players tower far above 6 and 7 feet in height, we almost can’t help but root for the “little guy.” (Except for when Nate was playing at the University of Washington during a home and home series against NC State in the middle part of last decade). But long before Robinson hit the scene, the short superstar that set the stage for “vertically challenged” players was NC State’s very own, Spud Webb.

Spud was only 5’7 and took the basketball world by storm when he won the NBA slam dunk contest in 1986. His lack of height kept him from playing on his junior high and high school teams. But Spud didn’t become discouraged. He worked harder and got better, and eventually landed a spot in Coach Valvano’s N.C. State program.

Overlooked by the larger programs, Spud landed at tiny Midland Junior College, eventually leading the school to the junior college national title in 1982. This little bit of exposure gave Spud a big shot with North Carolina State. The late, great Jim Valvano saw it in his big heart to give the little guy a chance.

Coach Valvano’s gamble on recruiting Spud payed off. Webb led the Pack to a Sweet 16 birth and his recruitment established an eternal connection between his legacy and N.C. State. Webb’s career has certainly inspired later players to overcome adversity in their own lives.

July 13th marks the 47th birthday of Spud Webb. We can look back on his career with not only a sense of Wolfpack pride, but with absolute admiration as he was a great example of a David amongst Goliaths. Today, Spud is a motivational speaker who works to help others understand that they too can achieve the impossible. We can all appreciate Spud’s hard work as evidenced through his magical abilities and performances on the court.

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12 Responses to A Look Back on Spud Webb’s Legacy

  1. sbas2 07/13/2010 at 2:20 PM #

    actually, Spudd Webb was a member of the 1985 elite eight State team. State lost to St. John’s who was led by Chris Mullins. Coach Valvano pulled one of his defensive coaching moves by putting Spudd Webb on Chris Mullins in the second half to try and slow Chris down. Mullins scored 25 points in the game. if Chris Washburn had not stolen that stero and be eligible, State would have most likely gone in 1985 to the final four again.

  2. rtpack24 07/13/2010 at 2:34 PM #

    When V recruited Webb he had not seen him play in person before his visit. V and his asst were waiting on Spud, V looked up and saw Spud smiling and walking towards them, V turned to his asst and said Tommy if that is Webb you are fired. Of course once V saw him play the rest is history.

  3. rky 07/13/2010 at 2:54 PM #

    Attending one of the home games back in the day with my Dad, I was able to snap a great photo of Spud dunking. If I can find a way to get it scanned, I’ll have to post it sometime. Spud is awesome.

  4. StateFans 07/13/2010 at 2:58 PM #

    In addition to his jumping skills, his ability throw an amazingly accurate alley-oop from mid court to Lorenzo Charles was pretty damn impressive in its own right.

  5. WV Wolf 07/13/2010 at 3:53 PM #

    I never saw Spud play for State but I watched him a lot with the Hawks on TBS back in the day. He has to be one of the fastest players from end-to-end of the court I’ve seen in the NBA.

    Should Spud’s jersey be one of the next to be honored in the RBC Center?

  6. ncsu96 07/13/2010 at 4:12 PM #

    Today is also David Thompson’s birthday… 13 is lucky number for the Wolfpack!

  7. StateFans 07/13/2010 at 4:25 PM #

    Only playing 2 years probably hurts his chances of having his jersey honored. But, obviously, all of his professional successes should provide a lot of material for us to honor and sell inside of the program.

  8. burnbarn 07/13/2010 at 4:34 PM #

    I saw us play at Cameron..we had the game in hand and near the end, Spud did a reverse dunk…. the dookies bowed down to him.. it was fun.

  9. WV Wolf 07/13/2010 at 4:38 PM #

    Nate McMillan only played 2 years and his jersey is honored so at least there is a precedent for that.

    Speaking of Nate Robinson, his tip jam is the 2nd nastiest dunk I’ve seen in the RBC Center. With Damon Thornton against Maryland holding top honors of course.

  10. NCSUPackfan 07/14/2010 at 12:25 AM #

    Thortons dunk was unbelievable… Are you talking about over the 7ft white dude? He had one in Reynolds as well against Penn State. Someone’s shot was blocked and he caught it midair with his back to the basket and did a 180 to throw it down. I just stood at midcourt with my friends in absolute shock!!

  11. choppack1 07/14/2010 at 8:01 AM #

    Spud and Mugsy Bogues were in the league at the same time. It was pretty funny, even though he was 5-7, Spud wasn’t the shortest player in the league.

    I remember the Wake-State game in the GSO Coliseum, Bogues actually posted up Spud.

    Both of those guys ended up having long, effective NBA careers. The most amazing thing about Spud was how slight he was. He obviously was pretty strong – but his body wasn’t the typical short PG body – he literally had a body like 15 year old too – but that body didn’t have any trouble withstanding the rigors of big-time college basketball and the NBA.

  12. ncsuinpa 07/14/2010 at 10:42 AM #

    I was at his first home game against ECU, where they raised the 1983 National Championship Banner. And I saw his first dunk. It was un-freaking-believable. The crowd went nuts. Then there was the “rematch” between us and Houston in the Springfield Peach Basket classic, where we won again. Good times.

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