A solid NBA player, Washington’s career has been forever shaded by the ugliest on-court incident in NBA history.
Originally drafted by the Lakers in 1973, the well-muscled Washington, reputed to be the strongest man in the league, was expected to provide plenty of help inside scoring and rebounding, but he languished his first three seasons, averaging never more than four points or six rebounds. Washington's game improved significantly after training with big man guru Pete Newell, and he averaged nine points and nine rebounds during the 1976-77 season.
The following season Washington's game continued to develop but all of that would soon be overshadowed in a game against the Houston Rockets. Washington, trying to break up a scuffle between Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Houston’s Kevin Kunnert, saw Rockets player Rudy Tomjanovich run toward him and turned and delivered a punch so devastating that it nearly killed Tomjanovich and effectively ended his NBA career.
Washington was fined $10,000 and suspended for 60 days. Traded soon after to Boston, Washington would eventually resurrect his career. He was twice named to the NBA's all-defensive team, and was an All-Star in 1980.
Feb. 13, 2011