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EXCERPT | Dec. 18, 1972

Tiny Dancer

Rough treatment didn't slow the NBA's lightest player

Kings guard Nate Archibald was 24 and on his way to leading the league in points and assists when Peter Carry reported from Kansas City.

He is called Tiny, or sometimes Little Tiny, a double diminutive that aptly describes him. Not only is Tiny far smaller than his peers, at 24 he looks far younger, say about 12. Ribs, not muscles, ripple his skimpy chest, and his hips are as narrow—and powerful—as a greyhound's. Tiny's tininess should have led him into sedate pursuits. As it turned out, he plays a little basketball.

To his bank, the IRS and most basketball fans he is known as Nate Archibald; to his teammates on the Kansas City--Omaha Kings as Tiny; and to his family back in the Bronx as Little Tiny. (The nickname is a hand-me-down from his father, Big Tiny.) During the first two months of the season Archibald has also become recognized by some other folks in the NBA, notably opponents and statisticians, as perhaps the most productive offensive player of any size of any time.

At 6'1", 160 pounds Tiny is the lightest and fourth-shortest player in the NBA. He usually dribbles past opposing backcourt men and heads for the area under the basket where men a hundredweight heavier and a foot taller wait to hack him, stuff him, crack him and otherwise make his wife and children wonder how far their standard of living will drop when they start making do on workmen's compensation. Archibald is smacked to the floor so often that he's developed a relaxed landing technique that allows him to fall with the impact of a sackful of creamed spinach. The rest of the time he leaves the big men waving wildly at the spot, usually in midair, that he has just vacated.

Archibald, a six-time All-Star, was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1991.

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College Football

Persian Hoop Dreams

SI.com's Luke Winn profiles Rice's freshman forward Arsalan Kazemi, who in November became the first Iranian to play Division I men's basketball

Kazemi quietly made his mark on the history between the U.S. and Iran when Rice coach Ben Braun put the 6'7" freshman into the Owls' home opener against Sacramento State. There was 16:26 left in the first half, and Rice led 10--0. The scoreboard made no acknowledgement of the event, and the crowd of 1,631 was mostly silent. But looking on with cautious optimism was a handful of Kazemi's countrymen. One had walked up to Kazemi in the pregame layup line to tell him, "Best of luck in the game. The reason we are here is to support you." Arsalan is a Turkish name that means lion, and Kazemi can sometimes appear sleepy on the floor, his expression blank and his head lolling, before roaring to life with an aerial burst that nets him a rebound or dunk. He's also given to making a quick step into a passing lane for a steal. Kazemi has been playing 20.7 minutes per game off the bench and is leading the 4--4 Owls in rebounds with 7.1 a game; he's also their fifth-leading scorer, with 8.0 points per game.

Winn also takes a look at Kentucky's John Wall (above left) and the rise of the Wildcats, and he examines the play of West Virginia's Da'Sean Butler in the latest College Basketball Power Rankings atSI.com/cbbPlus ...

Seth Davis's Hoop Thoughts: Freshman Xavier Henry(right) is taking over in Kansas

PHOTOPhotograph by NEIL LEIFEROUTSIDE IN Using the speed and skills that dazzled on New York City playgrounds, Archibald (10) preferred to head to the hoop. PHOTOTONI FRISSELL (SKI SEASON) PHOTOHANK DELESPINASSE (WALTON) PHOTOPETER READ MILLER (FAVRE) PHOTOROBERT SEALE (KAZEMI) PHOTOLANE STEWART (BIRD)