Herm Gilliam spent one professional basketball season in Buffalo, which is barely enough time to figure out how to get to the arena for games. Still, since it was the first pro season for the Braves, Gilliam will always be remembered.
The speedy guard was a bit overshadowed in college. He played at Purdue University alongside Rick Mount, one of the great shooters and scorers in college basketball history. Gilliam led the Boilermakers with 8.5 rebounds per game, even though he was a guard. That Purdue team made it to the NCAA finals, losing to UCLA as so many teams did in that era.
Gilliam was picked by the Cincinnati Royals in the first round (eighth overall) of the draft, and averaged 7.5 points per game with that team. Gilliam had the chance to play with one of the all-time greats on that team, fellow guard Oscar Robertson.
Gilliam was selected by Buffalo in the expansion draft of 1970, and he didn't have the problem of stealing playing time from a star with the Braves. The guard competed with Dick Garrett, Mike Davis and Em Bryant in the backcourt. Gilliam averaged 11.2 points per game on that team.
Buffalo had the chance to get a veteran guard in the summer of 1971. The Braves swapped Gilliam and forward Don May for guard Walt Hazzard and forward Jerry Chambers. Oddly, Gilliam turned out to be the most productive player in the transaction, as Hazzard did little in Buffalo after a decent first year. Gilliam spent four seasons in Atlanta and was in double figures in points per game in each season.
It was on to Seattle and Portland from there, and his career ended in 1977. He went on to work for United Parcel Service, dying of a heart attack in 2005.
-- Budd Bailey
Sports Ink blog at buffalonews.com/blogs