Wednesday, July 6, 2011

RIP Armen "The Hammer" Gilliam

Any New York area basketball fan who had the Sportschannel in the mid 90's remembers The Hammer. Nicknamed the Hammer during his days at UNLV because of his tough inside presence, and his name sounding like Arm & hammer baking soda, Gilliam passed away today of a heart attack at 47 years old. Playing alongside the likes of flashy but difficult to deal with players such as Derrick Coleman, Kenny Anderson and Chris Morris, Gilliam stood out with his boring yet effective low post game. I spent many an evening of my youth cursing out the Hammer and his slow half hook shot that Charles Oakley and Anthony Mason seemed powerless to defend. Although the Nets didn't win much when he was around, they always seemed to have their big brothers across the Hudson's number in those days, dominating the regular season match-ups and getting a game off the Knicks' Finals team in '94. And a big part of their limited success was the Hammer quietly doing his thing in the paint. He went on to play for a few more teams including Charlotte and Milwaukee, but I'll always remember Bill Raferty yelling "The Hammer throws it down!" to a half empty Meadowlands arena, the perfectly unflashy stalwart for a mediocre NBA team in New Jersey. Never getting any accolades, but always a pain in the ass for whoever had to guard him. RIP Hammer.

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