Shot Swatting Champ

With the Lakers coming upon their 50th season in Los Angeles, we’ve been digging into the history books, which always nets a fun fact or two.

Here’s one:

After moving from the Buffalo Braves to the Lakers in 1973-74 as a third-year player, Elmore Smith set a still-standing league record of 17 blocks in one game, which he accomplished against Portland on Oct. 28, 1973 (a 111-98 Lakers win). You have to wonder whom he was guarding … Ouch.

The NBA has pages devoted to stats such as these, where we learned that fellow Laker Kareem Abdul-Jabbar shares the NBA record for seasons leading the league in blocks (4), along with Utah’s Mark Eaton.

Of course, the league didn’t start keeping track of blocked shots until 1973-74, and Wilt Chamerlain retired the year before. Who knows how many shots the Stilt might have blocked in a single game? Alas, for Smith, it was his most prolific shot-blocking season, in which 4.9 balls per game were sent a different way.

Not bad at all, but it’s the 17 in one game that we’ll remember most. For a point of reference, Andrew Bynum’s best game in 2008-09 featured six blocks, and Pau Gasol’s only five. Do your thing, Elmore.