Nate ‘Tiny’ Archibald: ‘Dunk Contest Needs LeBron, Durant, Westbrook’

Nate “Tiny” Archibald stopped by CBS Sports Radio on Tuesday to discuss a number of topics, including the nickname that helped make him famous.

“It came from my dad – way, way back,” Archibald said on Tiki and Tierney. “When I was growing up, I was 13 or 14, and my dad was like me. He was a tough shell, but he was soft inside. So I said, ‘Dad, can I change (my name)?’ Tiny came later. I was ‘Little Tiny’ because he was ‘Big Tiny.’ And I said, ‘Dad, can I change ‘Little Tiny’ just to ‘Tiny?’ He said, ‘No, you can just be ‘Tiny, Jr.’”

Gee, thanks, dad. Thus, Archibald was called “Little Tiny” – doubly small – throughout his youth, but that didn’t stop him from becoming an NBA Hall of Famer. Neither did getting cut from his high school basketball team.

“I didn’t make my high school team right away,” said Archibald, who played for DeWitt Clinton in the Bronx. “I became a member as a senior. I was on the team as a junior, but I became a member of the team as a senior. When I was there in ’66, we didn’t lose a game. Early on, as I remember, I wasn’t a good student.”

In fact, Archibald had to attend junior college before transferring to Texas Western, which became the University of Texas-El Paso. Archibald got a degree from UTEP and later got a master’s from Fordham.

Archibald said it was different just being a student – as opposed to a student-athlete. That’s probably because he was no longer on scholarship and had to pay for his own tuition.

“It felt different, but it felt good to me,” he said, “because I earned it and I put the work in.”

He also put work in on the court, leading the NBA in both scoring and assists in 1973. He also won an NBA title with Boston in 1981.

Archibald, 66, was asked which NBA players intrigue him today.

“I love watching the guards,” he said. “Kyrie Irving, Chris Paul, Tony Parker, Steph Curry, (Russell) Westbrook. There’s a lot of guys that bring that excitement to me. I like the way they attack the game. People say play the game. No, attack the game. Know personnel. Know (how to) score.”

Archibald has been particularly impressed with the play of Curry, who is averaging 23.6 points and 7.9 assists per game.

“He was basically a shooter (when he came into the league),” Archibald said. “But now his handle is better, he’s getting more assists – people love to play with a guy (like that). He’s passing the ball more. He shoots the ball. And his partner (Klay Thompson) is terrific too. But they have a team. They have an exciting team to watch. I like watching him because he brings excitement to the game.”

Now if only the Slam Dunk contest had that same panache. The contestants this year are Zach LaVine, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Victor Oladipo and Mason Plumlee.

“Not the best people are doing it,” Archibald said. “And I’m going to say this because I’m an ambassador for the NBA. They need to see if we could get the best guys to do it, and I’m going to name about three or four guys that I would love to see do the Slam Dunk: LeBron, Kevin Durant, maybe Westbrook. I want to see some excitement. I want to see some people jumping in the stands and running on the court. I don’t see that anymore.”

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