Spurs Nation will remember Charles Smith as one of the most maddening talents to ever play for the team.
Back in the days before Tim Duncan filled the paint for the Spurs, Smith was counted to provide an inside threat with David Robinson. He had averaged at least 20 points in two different seasons earlier in his career. More of the same when he arrived in San Antonio from New York in a trade involving J.R. Reid.
Instead, Smith became one of the biggest bust in franchise history, averaging 7.7 points and 3.4 rebounds in 51 career games (and 37 starts) over two seasons with the Spurs. He was let go on Jan. 6, 1998 after not playing since the end of the 1996-97 season. He never played in the NBA again.
Smith surfaced several years ago as the president of the National Basketball Retired Players Association. But just as suddenly as he left the Spurs, Smith was sacked last year in a palace coup orchestrated by a group of other retired players.
Peter Vescey of the New York Post reports that NBRPA CEO Arnie D. Fielkow and president George Tinsley the estranged Smith has been contacting members regarding the possible start-up of a rival retired association. On Nov. 18, 2010, after two years on the job, Smith was furtively fired by Tinsley and a five-man board.
Board member Dan Schayes replaced Smith, though briefly. Numerous players, led by Earl Monroe, fiercely objected to how the coup was handled. Several believed that Smith’s firing was disputable and that the membership wasn’t given a vote.
Schayes was removed several months later and Fielkow assumed the operations of the organization. But in the meantime, Smith has threatened to sue the NBRPA for his wrongful discharge.
Spurs fans from back in the day probably are wondering where that fire and determination was during Smith’s short career with the Silver and Black.