Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic and Denver Nuggets MVP Nikola Jokic are putting up bonkers, see-it-to-believe-it stat lines this season. But may we all take a moment to look back and marvel at Ernie DiGregorio’s numbers in a game against the Portland Trail Blazers 49 years ago today, on Jan. 1, 1974.
The Buffalo Braves point guard put up 20 points and 25 assists in a 120-119 win over the Blazers, as a rookie. DiGregorio also snagged nine rebounds, putting him one shy of a wild triple-double.
Jan 1 1974 - #ErnieDiGregorio passed for an @NBA rookie record 25 assists & scored 20 points in #BuffaloBraves 120-119 victory over @trailblazers— Blazers History (@77Blazers) January 1, 2023
The total is 2nd most in @NBAHistory behind 28 assists by #BobCousy (1959) & #GuyRodgers (1963)#RipCity pic.twitter.com/EnD02yZHEH
At the time, it was the highest assist total by any rookie in NBA history. The record still stands, but now DiGregorio has company. On Feb. 23, 1987, Seattle SuperSonics rookie (and future Blazers head coach) Nate McMillan tied the record with 25 assists in a 124-112 win over the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Blazers connections don’t stop there. The Buffalo head coach on the sidelines during DiGregorio’s big performance was none other than Dr. Jack Ramsay. He said this about the performance:
“I’ve said from the beginning that there’s only one guy who I thought passed the ball better — and that was Bob Cousy. Ernie sometimes over-passes and he sometimes shoots when he should pass, but he has the talent to see everybody. He can count the house and still make the play.”
As noted in the Twitter post above, Cousy is tied for the all-time NBA record for most assists in a game with 28.