Snow Job Unassuming point guard Eric Snow is setting the tempo for the 76ers

January 31, 2000

The question of whom to pair with the Answer wasn't easy. The
76ers tried Jerry Stackhouse, then Jimmy Jackson, then Aaron
McKie--all talented two guards who seemed to be good complements
to the 6-foot Allen Iverson. None of them fit. In fact, the
bigger the scorer, the more Iverson's game suffered. When things
looked bleakest, along came point guard Eric Snow. "I love
playing with Allen," says the 6'3", 204-pound Snow. "The only
problem is that I catch myself watching him sometimes. I can't
help it."

Watching has always been a useful habit for Snow. As a freshman
at Michigan State in 1991-92 he learned decision-making from
senior teammate Mark Montgomery. As a Sonics rookie in 1995-96 he
studied the moves of Gary Payton and soaked up advice from
veteran Nate McMillan. Ever since he was a kid in Canton, Ohio,
Snow has been the one who didn't say much but was always there,
listening, observing, trying to get better. "Eric used to follow
me wherever I went," says the eldest of Snow's three brothers,
Patrick, 38, who played basketball in junior college. "When I put
on my sneakers, he'd put his on, and when we got home from the
park, he wouldn't take his off until I did."

Eric chose not to follow the most athletically talented of his
six siblings. When he was a seventh-grader, his brother Percy was
named Ohio's defensive player of the year as a McKinley High
linebacker. He would go on to win the Lombardi Award at Michigan
State and to be the Chiefs' No. 1 choice in the '90 draft. Eric
was a Pop Warner standout, but he shocked coaches at McKinley, a
football powerhouse, by not going out for the team. "I was big
into football then, no question," says Snow. "But there was so
much pressure because of Percy, I think it pushed me to
basketball."

After starring in hoops at McKinley, Eric did follow Percy to
East Lansing, where he finished second in career assists. The
football staff let it be known that Percy's little brother might
be able to stick around and play defensive back as a fifth-year
senior, but Snow demurred, and he was selected in the second
round of the '95 NBA draft. "I really had to move on," he says.
"It was time to make my own name."

When Philadelphia acquired him from Seattle for a second-round
choice in January 1998, Snow was hardly a hot property, having
averaged just 9.8 minutes a game in his career. But before last
season Sixers coach Larry Brown switched Iverson to shooting
guard and made Snow a starter. Just as the steadiness of Joe
Dumars enhanced the creativity of Isiah Thomas on the great
Pistons teams, the rock-solid Snow has freed up Iverson, who last
season led the NBA in scoring and at week's end was pouring in a
league-best 31.3 points a game. Through Sunday's games Snow was
averaging 7.3 points, 6.8 assists and just 1.8 turnovers while
playing defense with the toughness and anticipation of a strong
safety. "When Eric's not on the floor, it can get rough for me,"
says the Answer. "He always puts the ball where you want it."

From Kansas City, where he is now a construction worker, Percy
keeps close tabs on Eric. "No doubt he could have been a great
football player," Percy says. "But I think he's doing all right
anyway."

--John O'Keefe

COLOR PHOTO: JOHN W. MCDONOUGH

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
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