Whatever happened to former Hattiesburg basketball star Purvis Short?
BY STAN CALDWELL
Purvis Short was â€“ and remains â€“ one of the greatest basketball players ever to come through Hattiesburg High. He was a 6-foot-7 small forward with a trademark rainbow jump shot that made him a prolific scorer throughout his long playing career.
He was an integral part of the Tiger team that won the Class AA state championship and the overall state title in 1974.
Following his graduation from HHS in 1974, he followed his brother Eugene to Jackson State, where he started all four years for the Tigers.
During his four-year career at JSU, Short averaged 23.4 points and 9.3 rebounds. He completed 53.4 percent of his shots from the field for his career. His best overall season was his senior year of 1977-78, when he averaged 29.5 points and 11.4 rebounds a game for JSU.
After completing his eligibility at Jackson State, Short was chosen in the first round of the 1978 NBA draft, as the fifth pick overall by the Golden State Warriors. Short played his way onto the Warriorsâ€™ starting lineup by his second season, when he averaged 17.0 points a game.
Short played 12 seasons in the NBA, nine with Golden State, two with the Houston Rockets and one final season with the New Jersey Nets. Over that period, he averaged 17.3 points a game. During a four-season stretch from 1982-86, Short averaged 24.6 points in 288 games.
His best overall season as a pro was 1984-85, when he averaged 28.0 points a game, including a career-best 47 of 150 shots from 3-point range. During that season, on Nov. 17, 1984, Short scored 59 points in a win over the Nets, at the time the 10th-best single-game scoring effort in league history. He also had a defensive effort in 1981 against Boston in which he held Larry Bird scoreless, believed to be the only time that happened in the Celtic Hall of Famerâ€™s career.
After playing in all 82 games for New Jersey in 1989-90, Short retired from the game, but returned to basketball in the 1991-92 season playing for Israeli team Hapoel Tel Aviv. The season was the closest Short ever came to a championship as a pro, leading Hapoel to the Israeli Super League championship series, losing to Maccabi Tel Aviv in the deciding game of a best-of-five game series.
Late in his NBA career, Short became active in the National Basketball Players Association, the NBA playersâ€™ union, serving as union vice president from 1987-90. He currently serves as director of the associationâ€™s Player Services department, which counsels young players about dealing with fame and fortune.
Short currently makes his home in Houston. A signed poster of Short in action with Golden State hangs over the entrance to Hattiesburg Highâ€™s Watkins Gymnasium.