Steve Francis

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Steve Francis
Steve Francis cropped.jpg
No. 3, 1
Point guard
Personal information
Born(1977-02-21) February 21, 1977 (age 36)
Takoma Park, Maryland
NationalityAmerican
Listed height6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)
Listed weight210 lb (95 kg)
Career information
High schoolMontgomery Blair
(Silver Spring, Maryland)
CollegeSan Jacinto (1996–1997)
Allegany College (1997–1998)
Maryland (1998–1999)
NBA draft1999 / Round: 1 / Pick: 2nd overall
Selected by the Vancouver Grizzlies
Pro playing career1999–2010
Career history
19992004Houston Rockets
20042006Orlando Magic
20062007New York Knicks
2007–2008Houston Rockets
2010Beijing Ducks (China)
Career highlights and awards
 
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Steve Francis
Steve Francis cropped.jpg
No. 3, 1
Point guard
Personal information
Born(1977-02-21) February 21, 1977 (age 36)
Takoma Park, Maryland
NationalityAmerican
Listed height6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)
Listed weight210 lb (95 kg)
Career information
High schoolMontgomery Blair
(Silver Spring, Maryland)
CollegeSan Jacinto (1996–1997)
Allegany College (1997–1998)
Maryland (1998–1999)
NBA draft1999 / Round: 1 / Pick: 2nd overall
Selected by the Vancouver Grizzlies
Pro playing career1999–2010
Career history
19992004Houston Rockets
20042006Orlando Magic
20062007New York Knicks
2007–2008Houston Rockets
2010Beijing Ducks (China)
Career highlights and awards

Steven D'Shawn "Steve" Francis (born February 21, 1977) is an American retired professional basketball player. He was selected with the second overall pick in the 1999 NBA Draft, and played for the Houston Rockets, Orlando Magic, and New York Knicks in the NBA and the Beijing Ducks of the Chinese Basketball Association. Nicknamed "Stevie Franchise"[1] and self-described as "Steve-O",[2] he was known early in his career for his crossover dribble, driving ability, and flashy dunks.[3][4]

Early life and education[edit]

Francis was born and raised in Takoma Park, Maryland.[5] He was nicknamed "Wink" as a child.[5] After his mother died of cancer in 1995, his grandmother became a parent figure to him. He stopped playing basketball for two years after his mother's death.[6]

Francis attended the San Jacinto College of Texas in 1996–97, and the Allegany College of Maryland in 1997–98. Francis became the first player to take two unbeaten teams into the National Junior College Tournament.[6]

University of Maryland[edit]

Francis transferred to the University of Maryland in 1998 for his junior season. The addition of Francis helped propel the Terrapins to a #5 preseason ranking. Francis made an instant impact as Maryland's starting shooting guard, scoring 17 points in the season opener against Western Carolina. Francis and the Terps gained national attention with impressive showings in the Puerto Rico Shootout and a 62–60 win over #5 Stanford in the BB&T Classic. The Terps climbed to a #2 national ranking by early December.[7]

The Terrapins finished second in the ACC and Francis was named to the All-ACC first team and the All ACC Tournament team. The Terrapins were a number 2 seed in the NCAA tournament but were defeated by St. John's in the Sweet 16. Under Francis' leadership, Maryland finished with a school record 28 wins and only 6 losses and were ranked #5 in the final Associated Press poll.

Francis finished the season averaging 17 points per game, 4.5 assists per game, and 2.8 steals per game. He was a consensus second-team All-American and was named a finalist for the Wooden and Naismith Player of the Year Awards. Although he stated he was "99% sure" he would return to Maryland for his senior season, he opted to enter the NBA draft.

While a member of the Terrapins, Francis met Idan Ravin, who at the time was coaching youth basketball. Francis soon began attending Ravin's workouts and recommended Ravin as trainer to fellow college players, including Elton Brand. Ravin subsequently became a well known trainer for a number of NBA players.[8]

NBA career[edit]

Houston Rockets (1999–2004)[edit]

Francis was selected second in the 1999 NBA Draft by the Vancouver Grizzlies. He publicly announced that he did not want to play for the Grizzlies, citing the distance from his Maryland home, taxes, endorsements, and God's will. Heavily criticized for his antics, especially in Vancouver,[9] he relented and briefly considered joining the Grizzlies before contentious negotiations and an incident at the Vancouver airport convinced the franchise that they needed to go a separate way.[10]

Francis got his wish, being traded before the 1999–2000 season began to the Houston Rockets in a three-team, 11-player deal that brought Michael Dickerson, Othella Harrington, Antoine Carr and Brent Price, plus first- and second-round picks to the Grizzlies. It was the largest trade in NBA history at that time.[11]

Despite sharing Rookie of the Year honors with Elton Brand[12] and finishing as runner-up to Vince Carter in the 2000 Slam Dunk Contest,[13] the Francis-led Rockets finished with a 34–48 record.

The next season the Rockets improved to 45–37 but still missed the playoffs. In his third season, Francis was chosen by fans to start the 2002 NBA All-Star Game, but ended up playing only 55 games due to a foot injury and recurring Ménière's-induced migraines.[14] As a result the Rockets posted a dismal 28–54 record, landing them into the lottery, where they selected 7'6" Chinese center Yao Ming with the first pick in the 2002 NBA Draft. Francis and Yao gelled their first season together, being selected as 2003 NBA All-Star Game starters. Francis scored a career-high 44 points in a nationally televised home win against the Los Angeles Lakers on January 17, 2003.[14] The team, despite a 43–39 record, failed to make the playoffs.

Rockets head coach Rudy Tomjanovich stepped down in 2003, and the team selected ex-New York Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy as his successor. Unfortunately for Francis, Van Gundy's coaching style did not fit the speedy point guard's style of play. Even though Francis made the All-Star game for a third straight year his stats declined in 2003–04, dropping from 21.0 PPG, 6.2 RPG, and 6.2 APG to 16.6 PPG, 5.5 RPG, and 6.2 APG. The team, however, made the playoffs for the first time since 1999, which would be Francis' only post-season experience. Despite his averaging 19.2 ppg, 8.4 rpg, and 7.6 apg, the Rockets lost to the heavily favored Los Angeles Lakers, in five games.

As Francis' relationship with Van Gundy deteriorated it was apparent that the Rockets wanted to go in a different direction. While the coach sought to focus the team's offense on Yao Ming, the Rockets ended up trading Francis, along with his best friend on the team Cuttino Mobley, as well as Kelvin Cato, for Tracy McGrady, Juwan Howard, and Reece Gaines.

During Francis' first tenure in Houston, he averaged 19.3 points, 6.4 assists, 6.1 rebounds, and 1.63 steals in 374 games (372 starts).

Orlando Magic (2004–2006)[edit]

At first, Francis was unhappy with the trade to Orlando, but adapted to his new environment. Francis flourished in the "run n' gun" offense of interim head coach Chris Jent. After posting a career-low 16.6 points per game the previous year with the Rockets, Francis averaged 21.3 PPG, 5.8 RPG and 7.0 APG in his first season with the Magic. The Magic started out the year fast in the 2004–05 season, with Francis hitting several game-winning shots early in the season.[15][16][17] In the middle of the season, Mobley was traded to the Sacramento Kings, which upset Francis.[18] The Magic slumped late and missed the playoffs.

The following season, a disgruntled Francis was suspended for conduct detrimental to the team.[19] On February 5, 2006, there were rumors that he could be traded to the Denver Nuggets for Earl Watson but they were later dismissed and GM Otis Smith publicly announced that he would not trade Francis.[20] However, rumors persisted that Francis would be traded to the New York Knicks, Los Angeles Lakers, Minnesota Timberwolves, and Denver Nuggets.[6]

New York Knicks (2006–2007)[edit]

On February 22, 2006, one day before the NBA's trade deadline, Steve Francis was traded to the New York Knicks for small forward Trevor Ariza and the expiring contract of shooting guard Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway.[19] Prior to the trade, the Denver Nuggets reportedly offered both Watson and Kenyon Martin for Francis, but the deal never took place.[21] He made his Madison Square Garden debut on Friday, February 24 when the New York Knicks faced the New Jersey Nets, and scored 16 points in a 94–90 loss for the Knicks. He wore jersey #1 with the Knicks as his usual #3 was already assigned to Stephon Marbury.[1] Francis has endured a recurring injury, tendinitis in his right knee, and as a result began the 2006–07 season averaging only 11.3 ppg, as opposed to his career 18.4 ppg. He returned on February 10, 2007 vs the Utah Jazz. On March 10, Francis hit a game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer against the Washington Wizards, ending one of his best games as a Knick in front of his hometown. On 2007 draft night, June 28, the Knicks traded Francis and Channing Frye to the Portland Trail Blazers for Zach Randolph, Dan Dickau, and Fred Jones,[22] which then bought out the remaining two years of Francis's contract for a reported $30 million, making him an unrestricted free agent.[23]

Return to Houston (2007–2008)[edit]

The Miami Heat, Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets, and the L.A. Clippers pursued Francis.[23] On July 20, Francis chose the Rockets; signing a two-year $6 million contract with them, although the Heat offered the most money.[23] However, he failed to make Rick Adelman's rotation coming out of the preseason. He averaged 5.5 points and 3 assists in ten games before undergoing season-ending surgery stemming from an earlier left quadriceps tendon injury.[24]

Francis used his contract option to come back to the Houston Rockets for the 2008–09 NBA season. He lost 15 pounds for training camp, but he was not able to play in the beginning of the season due to the recovery period of his injury.[25]

On December 24, 2008, The Houston Rockets traded Francis back to the team that had originally drafted him, the Grizzlies, except now, the team was located in Memphis. This trade was for a 2011 conditional draft pick. The move allowed the Rockets to drop under the luxury tax threshold.[26] However, on January 27, 2009, it was reported that Francis was waived by the Grizzlies, without ever appearing in a game for them. No other NBA teams expressed an interest in Francis.[27]

Chinese Basketball Association[edit]

In November 2010, Francis signed with the Beijing Ducks of China. He averaged 0.5 points and 0.7 rebounds over four games, playing 14 minutes, before leaving the team in late December of that same year to return to the United States.[28]

Miscellaneous[edit]

On September 27, 2001, a tornado struck the University of Maryland campus and killed two students and displaced 700 more from their dormitory. Francis, who was on the campus at the time, arranged to sponsor a dinner for the displaced students before he flew back to Houston for his third season with the Rockets. He said, "I remember all of the people here supporting me while I was a Maryland student, and this is just a small way that I can give back to those who have helped me."[29]

On February 17, 2002, Francis' #23 jersey was honored (but not retired) by Maryland in a ceremony preceding the game against the #1 ranked Duke Blue Devils.[30] Francis sat on the team's bench during the game and cheered as the Terrapins upset the Blue Devils 87–73. On election day 2008, Francis supported presidential candidate Barack Obama by wearing a red velvet sports jacket with "Barack Obama" spelled on the back in sequins. Francis said he had followed the presidential race closely. "It's important that there is an African-American candidate running," Francis said. "I never thought I'd see the day that would happen. Right now, we're at a pivotal point. It's a great feeling for me."[31]

Francis has suffered from Meniere's disease, which causes migraine headaches.[32]

Francis has ventured into several entrepreneurial projects, including a construction company, boxing promotions, a barbershop and clothing line (We R One), as well as a hip-hop record label named Mazerati Music.[33]

NBA career statistics[edit]

Legend
  GPGames played  GS Games started MPG Minutes per game
 FG% Field goal percentage 3P% 3-point field goal percentage FT% Free throw percentage
 RPG Rebounds per game APG Assists per game SPG Steals per game
 BPG Blocks per game PPG Points per game Bold Career high

Regular season[edit]

YearTeamGPGSMPGFG%3P%FT%RPGAPGSPGBPGPPG
1999–00Houston777736.1.445.345.7865.36.61.5.418.0
2000–01Houston807939.9.451.396.8176.96.51.8.419.9
2001–02Houston575641.1.417.324.7737.06.41.2.421.6
2002–03Houston818141.0.435.354.8006.26.21.7.521.0
2003–04Houston797940.4.403.292.7755.56.21.8.416.6
2004–05Orlando787838.2.423.299.8235.87.01.4.421.3
2005–06Orlando464537.7.433.257.7974.85.71.1.216.2
2005–06New York241527.5.442.538.7613.03.51.0.310.8
2006–07New York443028.1.408.378.8293.63.9.9.311.3
2007–08Houston10319.9.333.235.5652.33.0.9.55.5
Career57654337.6.429.341.7975.66.01.5.418.1
All-Star3324.3.552.500.5002.75.3.7.012.0

Playoffs[edit]

YearTeamGPGSMPGFG%3P%FT%RPGAPGSPGBPGPPG
2003–04Houston5544.4.429.412.7258.47.61.4.219.2
Career5544.4.429.412.7258.47.61.4.219.2

CBA career statistics[edit]

Regular season[edit]

YearTeamGPGSMPGFG%3P%FT%RPGAPGSPGBPGPPG
2010–11Beijing403.4.375.000.000.8.0.0.0.5
Career403.4.375.000.000.8.0.0.0.5

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Associated Press (2007-07-20). "Francis hoping new-found maturity helps strengthen Rockets' title hopes". ESPN. Retrieved 2008-08-28. 
  2. ^ Mike Tulumello (2005-01-09). "Inside the NBA - Blazers have lost an estimated $147M in last 2 years". East Valley Tribune. Retrieved 2008-08-28. [dead link]
  3. ^ Frank Isola (1998-12-07). "FRANCIS CARRIES MARYLAND". New York Daily News. Retrieved 2008-08-28. 
  4. ^ Jackie MacMullan (1999-05-18). "Lottery Bound?: Francis Aims to Be Top Pick". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 2008-08-28. 
  5. ^ a b Rockets Training Camp Bios
  6. ^ a b c Howard Beck (2006-03-01). "As Francis Starts Over, Knicks Seem a Good Fit". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-08-29. 
  7. ^ Associated Press (1998-12-07). "COLLEGE BASkETBALL: MEN'S ROUNDUP -- BB&T CLASSIC; Maryland Edges Past Stanford And Answers Many Questions". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-08-28. 
  8. ^ Ballard, Chris (2009) The Art of a Beautiful Game: The Thinking Fan's Tour of the NBA. New York: Simon and Schuster, pages 150-160 [1]
  9. ^ "Say It Ain't So: Vancouver Grizzlies". CNNSI.com. 2001. Retrieved 2008-08-28. 
  10. ^ "Selling Steve Francis". washingtonian.com. 2000. Retrieved 2009-04-15. 
  11. ^ Associated Press (1999-09-01). "Rockets Sign Steve Francis". CBS News. Retrieved 2008-08-29. 
  12. ^ Associated Press (2000-05-09). "Bull, Rocket Win Rookie Award". CBS News. Retrieved 2008-08-29. 
  13. ^ "Vinsational - Carter captures slam dunk championship". cnnsi.com. 2000-02-13. Retrieved 2008-12-20. 
  14. ^ a b David DuPree (2003-02-04). "Francis has Rockets soaring". USA Today. Retrieved 2008-08-29. 
  15. ^ Associated Press (2004-11-04). "Hill, Francis Spark Orlando". Washington Post. Retrieved 2008-10-08. 
  16. ^ Associated Press (2004-11-05). "Francis hits second game-winner to lift Magic". USA Today. Retrieved 2008-10-08. 
  17. ^ John Denton (2005-02-01). "Magic survive refs' call to edge Cavs". Florida Today. USA Today. Retrieved 2008-10-08. 
  18. ^ John Denton (2005-01-11). "Magic, Kings swap Mobley for Christie, miffing Francis". USA Today. Retrieved 2008-08-28. 
  19. ^ a b Michael Lee (2006-02-23). "Magic Ships Francis to the Knicks". Washington Post. Retrieved 2008-08-28. 
  20. ^ Chris Tomasson (2006-02-06). "Magic shoots down Francis report". Rocky Mountain News. Retrieved 2008-08-28. [dead link]
  21. ^ Howard Beck (2006-02-23). "Knicks Deal 2 Backups for Another Star Guard". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-08-28. 
  22. ^ Marc Stein (2007-06-29). "Randolph heading to Knicks, Francis shipped to Blazers in draft-day trade". ESPN. Retrieved 2008-08-29. 
  23. ^ a b c Chris Broussard (2007-07-19). "Francis' deal with Rockets worth $6 million". ESPN. Retrieved 2008-08-29. 
  24. ^ Associated Press (2008-02-07). "Rockets' Francis to have season-ending knee surgery". ESPN. Retrieved 2008-08-29. 
  25. ^ "Rockets notes: T-Mac criticizes Nowitzki's flagrant foul". Houston Chronicle. 2008-03-05. Retrieved 2008-08-29. 
  26. ^ http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=3792265
  27. ^ Ronald Tillery (2009-01-27). "Grizz waive recently-acquired Francis". Commercial Appeal. Retrieved 2009-01-27. 
  28. ^ "Steve Francis leaves Chinese team". ESPN.com. Associated Press. December 27, 2010. Retrieved August 22, 2011. 
  29. ^ Former Maryland star Francis returns to boost spirits after campus tornado, National Collegiate Athletic Association, October 8, 2001.
  30. ^ Joe White (2002-02-18). "Rockets light up Wizards". USA Today. Retrieved 2008-08-28. 
  31. ^ "Rockets' Steve Francis makes pro-Obama fashion statement before Celtics game". Projo Sports Blog. 2008-11-05. Retrieved 2009-11-08. 
  32. ^ Down-shifting: with encouragement from the anxious Rockets, Steve Francis is restricting his high-flying game to reduce the risk of a crash landing
  33. ^ ONLINE Article "What the hell happened to Steve Francis?"

External links[edit]