Longtime NBA scout Marty Blake poses in 1997. (Scott Cunningham/ NBA/Getty Images)
By Ben Golliver
Marty Blake, the NBA's longtime director of scouting, died on Sunday in Georgia. He was 86.
Dubbed the "Godfather of Scouting," Blake was an NBA fixture for more than 50 years, getting his start as the GM of the Milwaukee Hawks in 1954 before later serving 35 years as the league's head scout.
“Marty began his lifetime of service to basketball at a time when the league was still in its infancy,” NBA Commissioner David Stern said in a statement. “His work as a general manager and then as director of scouting for the NBA first helped the teams to understand the value of scouting. Marty’s dedication not just to the NBA but to basketball was extraordinary and we will forever be indebted to him.”
NBA.com posted a lengthy obituary for Blake, which notes his role in developing the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament and the Pre-Draft Combine, two of the most important events on the NBA's scouting calendar. It also includes a few humorous samples of his player evaluation.
Blake was known for writing on-the-money scouting reports with a touch of humor. Once, after being introduced to a prominent college prospect after a game, the player asked Blake for an evaluation, right there on the spot. The player had scored nearly 20 points, but collected only one rebound in the game.
"Congratulations. You got one more rebound than a dead man," Blake told the player. "Next time, work a little harder."
When the three-point shot became a big part of the college game in the late 1980s, Blake showed his old eyes still knew the difference between a player's reputation and production. In one scouting report, Blake wrote: "He is a three-point shooter, but not necessarily a three-point maker!"
The Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame presented Blake with the Bunn Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005.
"Basketball has been the life's work of trusted advisor and scout Marty Blake, who has been contributing to the game of basketball for over 50 years," Basketball Hall of Fame president and CEO John Doleva said at the time. "He has reserved his place in basketball history while he continues to seek out new talent for tomorrow."
Blake is survived by his wife of more than 50 years, Marcia Blake, and three children. Blake's son, Ryan, now serves as the NBA's Director of Scouting.