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ARTIS AND THE QUICK-CHANGE ARTISTS
Peter Carry
November 26, 1973
By switching to the fast break, Artis Gilmore, Dan Issel and the rest of the Colonels have shot to the top of their division
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November 26, 1973

Artis And The Quick-change Artists

By switching to the fast break, Artis Gilmore, Dan Issel and the rest of the Colonels have shot to the top of their division

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"What would give me the biggest thrill right now would be if I could learn to grab the rebound, turn in midair and throw the ball out to an open man at halfcourt before I hit the floor," says Gil-more, a quiet, perhaps too gentle man whose slender frame is deceiving; though his waist is only 32", each of his thighs is 27" around. Gilmore's hamstrings are so well developed that he appears to be running and jumping on the world's two largest frogs' legs, a real asset in his newest hobby, scuba diving.

Although he was good enough in his rookie season to be the ABA's Most Valuable Player for 1972, Gilmore is now one of the league's most improved performers. His hesitancy to block shots, which came as a result of repeated goal-tending calls in his first season, is now gone and he so thoroughly dominates the league in rebounding that his average of 18.8 a game leads the ABA by five.

Yet Kentucky fans remain unappreciative of Gilmore, perhaps because he forced higher-scoring home-state hero Issel out of his natural position at center, perhaps because he is a victim of the thinking that anyone 7 feet tall ought to be able to cram shots into the basket at will. Groans over his performance against Carolina were heard from the stands, even though his statistics—15 points, 18 rebounds, 11 assists and seven blocked shots—indicated he had not exactly been playing out of position either.

Three nights later against Indiana, Artis' critics were left speechless. While his teammates ran for 33 fast-break points, many of them by Issel, Gilmore had 27 rebounds, blocked eight shots, passed for five assists and scored 22 points, including the winning basket on an uncharacteristic foul-line jumper.

No plays better demonstrated his defensive prowess than two that occurred in succession just after the second period opened. On the first, 6'9" Darnell Hillman drove one-on-one against Gilmore, soared high off the floor and began to slam the ball downward toward the basket. Somewhere in the air space above the square painted in the center of the backboard, Gilmore flicked the ball from Hillman's hand and drew an offensive foul for good measure. Twenty-four seconds later, Daniels drove down the middle of the lane and, in apparent horror over Gilmore's sudden arrival between him and the basket, threw up a rock-hard shot from six feet out. The ball caromed off the backboard, and Daniels, too, ended his foray by crashing into Artis and being assessed an offensive foul. With defense like that from Gilmore, the Colonels may need only a few good breaks to outrun the rest of the league.

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