While the New York City Point Gods of the 80s and 90s were the SHOWTIME film’s spotlight, those around in the 70s and early 80s paid recognition to the original New York City Point God, Nate Archibald.
Nate “Tiny” Archibald was a playground star in the South Bronx. On those park courts, he developed handles, showmanship, and toughness, which are the three pillars that every New York City point guard would need to possess if they wanted to make it. However, as a sophomore, Archibald’s stardom was put on hold as he was cut from his high school basketball team. With academics not a priority, Archibald contemplated dropping out of school after that and almost ended his career far before it started.
Then, Pablo Robertson, a former Harlem playground standout who would play at Loyola Chicago, took Archibald under his wing after seeing how talented he was during the playground games. Once Archibald recommitted himself, Robertson talked to his high school coach and got him back on the team.
Archibald would not play much once he returned as a junior, but his commitment to the classroom allowed him to shine as a senior. In 1966, Archibald was an All-City selection and named team captain. However, colleges were not too keen on Archibald’s shaky academics despite his immense talent, which limited his scholarship offers. He would eventually go to UTEP, where he had three outstanding seasons under Hall of Fame coach Don Haskins.
The Cincinnati Royals would select Archibald with the 19th pick in the 1970 NBA Draft; the rest was history from there. Archibald would only improve year by year in the NBA. He would cement his legacy in the 1972-1973 season by becoming the first player to lead the league in points and assists per game. He was the only player to do so until Trae Young of the Atlanta Hawks would join him after an incredible 2021-22 season.
Tiny Archibald averaged 34.0 points and 11.4 assists for the Kansas City-Omaha Kings in the 1972-73 season. Led the league in both – a feat yet to be matched in 40+ years.pic.twitter.com/qcaSH4qfgj— Hoop History (@H00PHISTORY) September 21, 2021
His accolades speak for themselves as Archibald was a six-time All-Star, a three-time All-NBA selection, and he would become a champion in 1981 with the Boston Celtics. However, it’s not just the numbers and accolades that make Tiny a point god. It’s his legacy and the future generations he would go on to inspire.
New York native and Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino said, “Archibald is the crÃ¨me de la crÃ¨me of NYC Point Guards.”
Only standing at 6’1″, Archibald utilized his skills from the playground to succeed in the NBA. Like most New York City point guards, his jump shot was only average, but his handles, speed, and toughness to finish near the rim made him hard to stop. A young Kenny Smith would draw inspiration and model his game after Tiny as he played on courts in Queens.
“Archibald is in a class all by himself,” Smith said regarding New York City points guards.
However, one of his legacy’s last pieces would come years after his career. Archibald would become a PE teacher in Harlem and the middle school basketball team coach. There, he would meet a young kid with a lot of talent who did not really apply himself in school. So, drawing on his own experience, Archibald would mentor the young boy as he became his coach.
The one piece of advice he told the boy was, ” If you master how to dribble, you will always be worth something to a team.”
That boy was God Shammgod.
NYC POINT GODS will be available across the network’s streaming and on-demand platforms for all SHOWTIME subscribers.