Posts Tagged Larry Bird

The Short, Strange Basketball Career of Kreator’s Mille Petrozza

Mille-Petrozza

If you have listened to any thrash metal there is no doubt you have heard the legendary band Kreator. Lead singer Mille Petrozza practically defined the riotous, violent German thrash sound.  What many people don’t know about Petrozza is that before he was writing classic songs metal anthems like “Betrayer” he was a remarkable basketball player who won an NCAA championship ring with Michigan State.

Petrozza was a high school phenom in Germany.  Standing 6 foot 1, Petrozza was an average-sized guard with extremely quick feet.  Although he lacked an imposing physical stature he made up for it with a jump shot that could find net from nearly anywhere on the floor.  Petrozza was recruited heavily by several major colleges, but eventually chose to play at Michigan State.

As a sophomore, Petrozza was the second leading scorer for a team that featured future Hall of Famer Magic Johnson.  Magic remembers his time playing with Mille fondly.  “Mille was a pure jump shooter.  One of the best I’ve ever seen.  I knew when I dished it off to him, I was pretty much guaranteed an assist.”

Petrozza #12 With The 1979 Championship Team

Petrozza #12 With The 1979 Michigan State Championship Team

Petrozza was averaging 16 points and 7 rebounds a game going into the NCAA tournament when disaster struck.  His knee gave out driving to the basket in a late season game against Indiana.  Doctors said he might never play again.  Michigan coach Jud Heathcote called a team meeting after the injury and remembered telling Magic “Mille’s down for the count.  We might not get him back for the rest of the year.  You are going to have to carry us.”

Magic stepped up and had a tournament for the ages.  He carried the team to an improbable championship defeating the Larry Bird led Indiana State Sycamores 75-64.  Mille got his ring, but was deeply disheartened by not being able to play.  He never recovered his 1979 pre-injury form during his final two unexceptional seasons at Michigan State.

In the 1981 NBA Draft, Petrozza, who had once been projected a high first round pick, slipped to the 2nd round where he was nabbed by the Cleveland Cavaliers.   Cleveland was terrible that year but Petrozza began to emerge as a budding star. He averaged 12 points a game and wowed other teams with his speed and intensity.

His most memorable moment was when he scored 39 points in the Boston Garden in a January game against the Celtics.  Kevin McHale, the power forward for Boston remembers the performance well.  “I thought to myself, I can’t believe we are going to have to play this guy every year.  He’s unstoppable.”

Robert Parrish, the Celtics Center, remembers Petrozza as well.  “Man, I had never seen anything like that guy.  He dunked over me in the third quarter and he actually yelled out ‘PLEASURE……TO KILL!!!!!’  I was like ‘WHAT THE HELL?!?!?’”

Petrozza During His Breakout Game Versus The Celtics

Petrozza During His Breakout Game Versus The Celtics

Just when Petrozza seemed to be getting things together he was struck with another terrible injury.  While guarding Julius Erving in a game at Philadelphia he slipped on a wet spot on the floor and his surgically repaired knee gave out.  “I just felt the thing buckle,” recalls Petrozza.  “I knew I was done.”

Petrozza retired nine months later after an unsuccessful attempt to return after surgery. He decided to devote his life to his other passion, music.  He took the money he had saved from his NBA contract and used it to pay for the recording of the first Kreator record “Endless Pain”, a title he came up with to describe his knee troubles.

Petrozza-Uniform

He never lost his love for the game.  In fact, many of the Kreator songs and album titles have subtle basketball references in them.  According to Petrozza, the album “Extreme Aggression” is actually a tribute to the press defense he ran at Michigan State.

Life has a funny way of moving people to where they are supposed to go.  If Petrozza hadn’t had knee troubles he easily could have had a long successful career in the NBA, but then thrash as we know it would have been changed forever.

“I’m glad things turned out the way they did.  I love playing thrash metal for thousands of screaming metal maniacs,” remarked Petrozza. “But sometimes when I’m alone at night in my study having a brandy I remember my old playing days.  When I think of my basketball career, I can’t help but recall a quote from my favorite poet John Greenleaf Whittier “For all sad words of tongue and pen, The saddest are these, “It might have been’.”

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Paul Pierce’s Rasputin-like Performance Leads the Celtics Past the Heat 121-119

Paul Pierce Being Carried Off The Floor After His 9th First Quarter Injury

Last night, Paul Pierce put together a game that will certainly go down in the annals of the Boston Celtics as one of the most warrior-esque performances in that franchise’s history.  After receiving numerous injuries, Pierce returned to the game against the Miami Heat and scored 37 points and grabbed 14 rebounds to lead the Celtics to a 121-119 overtime victory.  What made the game special was not just Pierce’s fabulous numbers, but the amazing series of setbacks that Pierce overcame to lead his team to victory.  In the postgame press conference Ray Allen called Pierce’s performance “amazing” and said that he was “a true warrior”

About 3 minutes into the game, Ray Allen stole the ball from LeBron James and threw the ball the length of the court to Pierce.  Pierce went up for a layup and was hammered to the floor by Udonis Haslem.  The team doctor brought Pierce back to the dressing room and after a series of x-rays determined that he had a fractured orbital bone in his face.  Grasping the importance of the game, Pierce put on a plastic, Rip Hamilton mask and returned to action with 3 minutes left to go in the quarter.

Upon his return to the floor, Pierce scored 6 quick points.   He threw in a great slashing layup to tie the game up at 27.  Unfortunately for Pierce, he landed off balance on his right ankle causing a severe sprain.  Pierce was carried off the floor to the locker room by several teammates and it looked like he would be lost for the game.  Three minutes after Pierce went to the locker room he miraculously ran out of the tunnel and on to the court just in time for the beginning of the second quarter.

Pierce faced more suffering in the second quarter.  While taking a jump shot, Pierce was shot in the back by a deranged Heat fan in the 8th row.  The shooter, Karl Lee Wiley, was arrested immediately by security.  Pierce, who was lying on the court in a pool of blood, was carried on a stretcher to an ambulance.  As the ambulance was driving away, Pierce burst out of the back and ran towards the court.  With 2 minutes left in the second quarter, Pierce checked back into the game.  Coach Doc Rivers was truly impressed.  “I’ve had players play through injuries before, but I’ve never seen a player overcome a gunshot wound and go back in the game.  Paul is a true warrior.”

The second half was also quite difficult for Pierce.  While drinking contaminated Gatorade before the half begun he contracted a severe case of dysentery.  Pierce spent much of the next 10 minutes shaking and running to the bathroom.  He became delirious when he was in the locker room and claimed that he saw Larry Bird, Robert Parrish and Kevin McHale walking through the door.   Yet somehow, Pierce was able to get his symptoms under control and return with 6 minutes left in the third quarter.

Pierce continued to play an inspired game.  He went up for a monstrous dunk to cut the Heat’s lead to 9 with 7:22 left in the fourth quarter.  Unfortunately, his fingers got hooked on the webbing of the net and he was stuck, hanging by one arm in the air.  Doctors, worried that Pierce could die from being suspended in mid-air for too long, immediately amputated the arm allowing Pierce to be freed.  Pierce was again rushed to the locker room by the medical staff.  But, it a moment reminiscent of Willis Reed’s injured return to the court during the Knicks championship game in the 70s, Pierce came out of the tunnel with only one arm and checked back into the game with 2 minutes remaining.  Showing no effects from the terrible, arm amputation surgery he had only moments earlier, Pierce quickly fired in two three pointers to tie the game at 107 and send it to overtime.  “He’s simply a warrior,” said Celtics Forward Kevin Garnett, “and this was the most warrior-like performance I’ve ever seen.”

During overtime, Pierce suffered a severe concussion, a brain aneurysm, a broken leg, was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes and a contracted a severe staph infection.  With 3 minutes remaining, Pierce’s heart stopped and he collapsed on the court.  Medics pronounced him dead on the scene and began to cart him off the floor, but somehow his heart began beating again and he returned to action.  On a night where nothing could stop him, Pierce threw in a jumper from the corner with 2 seconds remaining giving the Celtics the victory.  Shaquille O’Neal added 19 points and 12 rebounds as the Celtics pulled ahead of the Heat for the best record in the NBA’s Eastern Division.  Pierce expects to play tomorrow night when the Celtics travel to Sacramento to face the Kings.

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