by Chris Sager
I want to start some articles to remember the historic moments, the players who put the WBA as the best basketball league (simulated or not) in the world. Take that Adam Silver…
First of, all we will start talking about the most important player in the 12 years of the league. How do you measure the greatness of a player? There have been better scorers, better rebounders… but i will take winning, and that is all that matters. There isn’t a player in the league capable of taking over a team and making it an instant contender other than the great Lou Gonzales.
It all starter in Season 2 (or 2002 as we call now) a young league decided to expand with 6 more teams, and one of those was Tokyo. As a typical expansion team, the first season was a total disaster, and Tokyo won just 11 games. As a result they were awarded with the top pick in next draft.
We know the names that have made the WBA great, players and GMs, but too often some other are forgotten while some of their decisions were really important for the league. It’s the case of Andrew Robertson. Andrew did the often hard task of creating a team from nothing, and he did not hesitate of drafting Lou Gonzales when the clock started to run in draft night.
Gonzalez had a great reputation in college, he shot almost 60% of his shots as a senior, and he was believed to be a one in a generation kind of player in the defensive end. Gonzo did not need any time to adjust to the pros. He alone changed forever the fate of Tokyo, as they gor the largest margin of improvement in league history, going from 11 to 56 wins, and reaching the finals in his rookie season, leading his team in almost every category with 23 points and 5 blocks per game. Offensive plays were run through him, taking profit from his underrated passing game (he has over 4 assist per game his whole career), and Mr Robertson surrounded him with some good shooters.
Tokyo had become a perennial contender, as Lou was approaching to his prime, but front office was unable to take the next step, and GM was dismissed after 2004. They agreed to terms with little known, but well connected Kevin Harper, and soon the league realized that family ties did not matter a single bit. After a disappointing 2006 season, Kevin, in a bold move decided to trade Lou Gonzales in one of the largest trades the league have ever seen. Gonzales was traded for 6 first round picks and he landed in Albacete where for the first time he would have to share the load with other all-WBA player, Harry Jarvis
Lou was not really fond on this move, as Albacete had a great center in the roster and he didn’t want to play power forward, as a result Bobby Cress was moved to the PF and the rest is well-known in the league. Harry Jarvis wanted to keep his alpha dog status, Gonzales wanted to win a championship badly, so he sacrificed being the focal point on offense. He scored fewer point than any other season, shot with a worse percentage (still 57%) and his assists and blocks went down too. But his duo with Bobby Cress was devastating for the rest of the league. Albacete won 69 games, and won the championship sweeping Cancun in the Finals.
Albacete and Lou had achieved their goals, and experts started to praise Lou’s unselfishness and how he silently led Albacete to the championship. Jarvis got furious and clashed with management and stated that he had played his last game with Lou Gonzales. GM and owner had to decide who to keep. while most of us would have chosen Lou, there were a lot of emotional ties between Albacete and Jarvis, and the made the popular decision. Lou had to go after just one season.
The team with the best offer was Oregon (formerly Tokyo) with some picks and Dontae Evans, and Lou was coming back to te team where he started, but with a champion status under his belt. Oregon made the jump again going from 25 to 50 wins, and Gonzales went from 21 to 26 ppg, with 1 more assist and 2 more blocks, he was the man again.
Finally in 2010 he led Oregon to the championship, sweeping Texas in West Finals and Budapest in the Finals, and for the first time they repeated as Champions in 2011 and they were one win away from a threepeat losing in Game 7 of the Finals against Paris in 2012.
Now that time is claiming his due in Lou Gonzales’ game, lets not forget all his accomplishments. He is in the top 10 in all time scoring, no center has given more assist (I dare to say that no center have given half of his assists), he is 4th in career steals, and he tops the blocks list and it doesn’t come close. Mix it with a shooting percentage of 63.4 % and you have the best player in WBA history.