On his way to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, Nathaniel "Tiny" Archibald learned all about rising from desperate surroundings to extraordinary heights. It was an education that started early in life and served him well through a 14-year playing career that led him from the lowly Cincinnati Royals to an NBA Championship with the Boston Celtics.
In the second round of the 1970 NBA draft, the Cincinnati Royals and Hall of Famer Bob Cousy took a chance on Nate Archibald, a shy and diminutive scatback guard from the University of Texas-El Paso. Although Archibald had scored more than 20 points a game as a junior and senior, Cousy had hoped the 6-foot-1 Archibald could handle NBA pressure and become the Royals' steady point guard, much like the coach himself had done in Boston. Cincinnati got much more than expected. Archibald was a penetrator supreme, a pinpoint passer and an outside shooter with great range. "Tiny's" quickness and swooping passes made him difficult to guard in the open court and he was a potent triple threat with his penetration, passing and shooting. When the Royals moved to Kansas City/ Omaha in 1972 and became known as the Kings, the nickname fit "Nate the Skate" perfectly. In Kansas City's first season, he averaged 34 points a game and 11.4 assists per outing, becoming the only player in NBA history to lead the league in those two categories in the same season.
The player who proved the "little man" could excel in professional basketball logged 14 NBA seasons playing for Cincinnati (1970-72), Kansas City-Omaha (1972-76), New York Nets (1976-77), Buffalo (1977-78, injured did not play), Boston (1978-83) and Milwaukee (1983-84). His swift drives to the hoop were virtually unstoppable; either "Tiny" scored or was fouled. Consequently, Archibald led the NBA in free throws made three times and free throw attempts twice. He competed in 876 professional games, scored 16,481 points (18.8 ppg), dished out 6,476 assists, was an All-NBA First Team selection three times (1973, 1975, 1976), an All-NBA Second Team selection twice (1972, 1981), six-time All-Star Game selection and MVP of the 1981 game. From 1978 to 1983, Archibald was the floor general and a crafty member of the Boston Celtics, a team he helped win the 1981 NBA title and lead to the best NBA record three consecutive years (1980-82).