LaRue Martin

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LaRue Martin
LaRue Martin (2).jpg
Martin in 1972
Personal information
Born (1950-03-30) March 30, 1950 (age 69)
Chicago, Illinois
Listed height6 ft 11 in (2.11 m)
Listed weight208 lb (94 kg)
Career information
High schoolDe La Salle Institute
(Chicago, Illinois)
CollegeLoyola (Illinois) (1969–1972)
NBA draft1972 / Round: 1 / Pick: 1st overall
Selected by the Portland Trail Blazers
Playing career1972–1976
Career history
19721976Portland Trail Blazers
Career highlights and awards
Career NBA statistics
Points1,430 (5.3 ppg)
Rebounds1,258 (4.6 rpg)
Assists203 (0.7 apg)
Stats at

LaRue Martin (born March 30, 1950) is a retired American professional basketball player. Martin was drafted first overall by the National Basketball Association's (NBA) Portland Trail Blazers in the controversy riddled 1972 NBA draft out of Loyola University Chicago, he was drafted ahead of future Hall of Famers Bob McAdoo and Julius Erving.[1] Martin has been discussed as one of the worst first overall draft picks in NBA history, but moved on to forge a successful corporate career.[1]

College career[edit]

Shy and reserved as a youth, Martin was a 6-foot-11 center from Chicago, Illinois, who attended high school at De La Salle Institute. There he played for Coach Jerry Tokars and was a classmate of Bryant Gumbel. Martin stayed in Chicago for college, recruited to Loyola University Chicago by Coach George Ireland.[2][3][4]

In 1969-1970, after a year on the freshman team (freshman were not allowed to play NCAA varsity basketball in this era), Martin debuted for the Loyola Ramblers, averaging a strong double-double of 16.6 points and 14.4 rebounds, as Loyola finished 13-11.[5]

As a junior in 1970-1971, Martin was the star on a dreadful 4-20 team, averaging 18.7 points and 17.6 rebounds.[6]

Loyola finished 8-14 in Martin's senior season of 1971-1972, despite his averaging 19.6 points and 15.7 rebounds.[7]

Martin had garnered attention, playing well against Bill Walton in a game between Loyola and UCLA, in 1971–72. Although his Ramblers lost to UCLA 92-64 on January 28, 1972, while The Bruins were in the midst of their 88-game winning streak, Martin had 19 points and 18 rebounds matched up directly against future teammate Walton, who had 18 points and 16 rebounds. Martin had played similarly against Jim Chones of Marquette in their game the night before.[8][9][10]

Portland Trail Blazers scout Stu Inman was in attendance for both games and took notice of Martin's strong back-to-back performances against the two premier big men in the country. Portland would later draft both Walton and Martin.[11]

In his career at Loyola, Martin averaged a double-double of 18.2 points and 15.9 rebounds in 67 games. He had 1222 career points with 1062 rebounds. Martin remains Loyola's all-time leading rebounder.[12][13]

NBA career[edit]

1972 NBA draft[edit]

The Portland Trail Blazers made Martin the first overall pick in the 1972 NBA Draft. Martin was also the No. three pick of the American Basketball Association draft by the Dallas Chaparrals.[14][15]

The 1972 NBA draft may have been controversially influenced. Chones had signed with the New York Nets of the ABA, it was rumored that North Carolina star Bob McAdoo, the unquestioned best available player available in the draft, had signed with the Virginia Squires of the rival American Basketball Association after a "secret" ABA draft took place, in which names of those drafted were not make public. Reportedly, NBA Commissioner Walter Kennedy advised NBA teams not to draft McAdoo.[16] Other reports were that a contract was signed and voided, because McAdoo was too young to have signed it and the NBA Buffalo Braves somehow knew this,[17] yet another story was that the Portland negotiated with McAdoo on the eve of the draft but could not meet his demands.[8] Later, McAdoo was noted as the No. 1 pick of the 1972 American Basketball Association Draft.

Buffalo chose McAdoo with the pick behind Martin; the Milwaukee Bucks drafted Julius Erving with the No. 12 pick, but he was already playing in the ABA and remained with the Virginia Squires.[18][19][20][17]

Portland Trail Blazers (1972-1976)[edit]

As a rookie in 1972-1973, Martin was 6'11" and weighed 205. In his rookie year, he averaged 4.4 points and 4.6 rebounds in 77 games with limited minutes (12 per game). The Trail Blazers finished 21-61 under Coach Jack McCloskey; when the Trailblazers played at Chicago during his rookie year, McCloskey benched Martin for the entire game. "It was a tough pill to swallow. I was embarrassed. I had tears in my eyes." said Martin, who had numerous family and friends in attendance. "Every time I think about it it haunts me."[21] Martin had similar numbers the next season playing for McCloskey and the Trailblazers were 27-55.[22][4]

Martin reflected on Coach McCloskey. "Jack wasn't a believer in my ability," Martin said. "He came from Wake Forest in North Carolina, and he wanted Bob McAdoo. Hey, Bob was a hell of a player. I know that. Maybe I wasn't the right guy for Jack. So be it, but I never gave him any grief when I was playing for him. I'm not into that. I just kept my mouth shut and did what I was told. I guess it wasn't good enough."[4]

In 1974–75, under new Coach Lenny Wilkins, Martin initially saw his playing time decrease more after the Trail Blazers had selected Bill Walton as the No. 1 pick of the 1974 NBA draft and inserted him in the lineup. However, Martin averaged 7.0 points in 17 minutes and shot .452 from the field, when Walton missed most of the year with injuries. Portland finished 37-45.[23]

Martin was traded from the Trail Blazers to the Seattle SuperSonics before the 1976 season. However, Martin wouldn't play another game after being cut by Seattle before the start of the 1976-77 season. Martin signed contracts with the Cleveland Cavaliers (Sept. 1, 1977) and Chicago Bulls (August 1, 1978). In both cases he was placed on waivers within weeks of signing.[24] Martin also rejected numerous offers to play in Europe.[4][25]

In four NBA seasons, Martin averaged 5.3 points and 4.6 rebounds in 271 career games, averaging 14 minutes per game.[26]

Martin's short career at times becomes the punchline to draft jokes, his selection was the predecessor in Portland to other unfulfilled big-man potential in Bill Walton (No. 1 overall pick 1974 NBA draft, Sam Bowie (No. 2 overall pick in 1984 NBA draft selected just ahead of Michael Jordan) and Greg Oden (No. 1 overall pick of the 2007 NBA draft).[27]

“Being a No. 1 draft choice, getting that big zero on your back, you are a marked man,” Martin said at a National Basketball Retired Players Association event. “My career was up and down. They called me the worst draft choice in the nation, and that bothered me, but I had the opportunity to move on and get into the corporate world, and I’ve moved on ever since.”[27]


Martin received a B.A. in sociology with a minor in education from Loyola. After his basketball career, he worked for Nike in Oregon, and an insurance company before joining UPS in the mid-1980s.[28] Remaining at UPS, he has worked as the Community Services Manager since August 2005.[29]

Martin is on the National Basketball Retired Players Association Board of Directors.[30][27]

Active in the community, besides his corporate career, Martins's board memberships and civic affiliations have included the City Club of Chicago, YMCA Mentoring Program, the African American Advisory Council of the Cook County State's Attorney's office, the Urban League of N.W. Indiana, M.L.K. Boys and Girls Club of Chicago, The Leverage Network and De La Salle Instite Board of Directors.[30]

Martin was featured in a segment on HBO's Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel in 2011.[3]

Reflecting on his NBA career, Martin said "I don't believe in saying anything negative, you have no control over that, I took care of my family, did what I had to do and I'm the type of person I can't dwell off the negatives. I can't. I kept my head up high and moved onto a positive mode of life and it has treated me very well."[31]


  • In 1982, Martin was inducted into the Illinois Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame at the Basketball Museum of Illinois.[32]
  • Martin's #20 jersey was retired by Loyola in 2002.[30]
  • Martin is in the De La Salle Instite Sports Hall of Fame.[33]
  • Martin is in the Loyola Athletics Hall of Fame.[12]
  • In 2018, Martin was named to the All-Century Team at Loyola.[34]
  • Martin has been honored with numerous community service awards. Among them are the Leadership in Community Relations Award from the Human Resources Development Institute, Chicago Urban League Beautiful People Award, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Legacy Award, and the Black Heritage Award.[30]


  1. ^ a b Tomasson: Olowokandi leaves a sour taste Archived 2009-03-31 at the Wayback Machine, January 20, 2006
  2. ^ Megan, Graydon. "Jerry Tokars, longtime De La Salle Institute basketball coach, dies at 85".
  3. ^ a b "Real Sports Profiles LaRue Martin". SLAMonline. 5 February 2011.
  4. ^ a b c d Eggers, Kerry. "LaRue Who? Ex-Blazer makes name for himself". External link in |website= (help)
  5. ^ "1969-70 Loyola (IL) Ramblers Schedule and Results". College Basketball at
  6. ^ "1970-71 Loyola (IL) Ramblers Roster and Stats". College Basketball at
  7. ^ "1971-72 Loyola (IL) Ramblers Roster and Stats". College Basketball at
  8. ^ a b writer, IRA WINDERMAN, Staff. "LARUE WHO?: NBA'S NO. 1 BLUNDER".
  9. ^ UTC, Posted on 02 15 11 12:30 AM. "RealClearSports - 4. LaRue Martin".
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ a b "genrel martin larue00 html". Loyola University Chicago Athletics.
  13. ^ "LaRue Martin College Stats". College Basketball at
  14. ^ "1972 ABA Draft Pick Transactions".
  15. ^ Matthew Citak (June 25, 2013). "Top 5 Biggest NBA Draft Busts Of All Time". WBZ-TV.
  16. ^ Bailey, Budd (February 26, 2009). "Buffalo Braves History: 1972-73 Season".
  17. ^ a b Clubhouse Lawyer: Law in the World of Sports By Frederick J. Day p.50-51
  18. ^ Eno, Greg. "McCloskey's Rotten Draft Luck in 1972: LaRue Martin over Bob McAdoo". Bleacher Report.
  19. ^ "Squires Said to Make McAdoo Top 'Secret' A.B.A. Draft Pick". March 3, 1972 – via
  20. ^ Northrop, Milt (November 6, 2016). "McAdoo and Jo Jo meet again".
  21. ^ Oregonian/OregonLive, John Canzano The. "Former Trail Blazer No. 1 overall NBA Draft pick turned UPS driver is at peace".
  22. ^ "1972-73 Portland Trail Blazers Roster and Stats".
  23. ^ "1974-75 Portland Trail Blazers Roster and Stats".
  24. ^ "LaRue Martin Player Profile, Chicago Bulls, NBA Stats, NCAA Stats, Game Logs, Bests, Awards - RealGM".
  25. ^ Mannix, Chris. "Larue Martin The top pick of the '72 draft has overcome his descent into hoops infamy". Vault.
  26. ^ "LaRue Martin Stats".
  27. ^ a b c "LaRue Martin, Antoine Walker Show Value Of, Need For NBRPA « - Hang Time Blog".
  28. ^ [1]
  29. ^ Legends of Basketball - Where Are They Now? LaRue Martin Archived 2007-09-27 at the Wayback Machine, August 30, 2005
  30. ^ a b c d "La Rue Martin, Jr. - The Leverage Network Inc".
  31. ^ "LaRue Martin's unlikely success story". NBC Sports Chicago. 21 March 2017.
  32. ^ "Basketball Museum of Illinois - Players".
  33. ^ "De La Salle Institute".
  34. ^ "Loyola Announces Men's Basketball All-Century Team". Loyola University Chicago Athletics.