The 7'4 Dutchman was one of the first high-impact foreign players in NBA history. He came to the American game by way of his starring career at little Marist College. A long shot blocker at 245-pounds when he entered the league, Smits was more known for his surpising shooting range, which was very accurate from over 20-feet. Incorrectly dismissed as a ' soft player ' inside, Smits was a really a very tall face-up shooting forward, despite increasing attempts over the course of his career to move him to center. The NBA of the 1980s showed a remarkable decline at the center spot, and talented Steve Stipanovich proved to be oft-injured. Smits spent his entire career with the Pacers, slowly adding some bulk for his increasing inside duties. Later a NBA All-Star, he became a project player for Larry Bird. Smits career culminated in Indiana's trip to the NBA Finals, where LA's Shaquille O'Neal was allowed to repeatedly knock him to the floor without being called for a foul. Not long after that Finals loss, Smits retired.



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Rik Smits

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