Full Name: Kermit Alan Washington
Nickname: Special K
Born: September 17, 1951 in Washington, D.C.
High School: Coolidge in Washington, D.C.
College: American University
Drafted: 1st Round, 5th Pick - LA Lakers, 1973
Played for the Lakers from 1973 to 1978
Washington is best remembered for punching opposing player Rudy Tomjanovich during an on-court fight on December 9, 1977. Washington was currently engaged in a brawl when he saw Tomjanovich running to help, so Washington swung around to meet him. The punch, which took Tomjanovich by surprise, fractured his face away from his skull about 1/4 of an inch and left Tomjanovich unconscious in a pool of blood in the middle of the arena. Players involved often say that right after Tomjanovich collapsed, the silence at the arena, filled with shocked fans, was 'the loudest silence ever heard'. Upon later inspection by the doctors at the scene, it was discovered that Rudy was actually leaking spinal fluid into his mouth, and that not only his basketball career, but his life, was in danger at that point. Tomjanovich would later recount that at the time of the incident he believed a scoreboard fell on him. Washington, then playing with the Los Angeles Lakers, was suspended for two months, missing 26 games. Tomjanovich, then of the Houston Rockets, missed the entire season. He later won a court judgment against the L.A. Lakers and was awarded $3.2 million, even though the original sum set by Tomjanovich was $2.4 million. The incident is remembered as one of the most frightening in the NBA's history. It subsequently resulted in the league's clamping down on on-court fights, changing the very landscape of the game, and paving the way for the new era ushered in by Magic Johnson and Larry Bird.
Despite the incident, Washington had an otherwise good reputation, and it was often stated at the time that he was being used as a scapegoat for the NBA's recurring problems with violence. It must be remembered that a similar event occurred during the opening game of the 1977-1978 season, a couple months before the Tomjanovich incident. Two minutes into the game, Washington's teammate Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had punched the Milwaukee Bucks' Kent Benson in retaliation for an overly aggressive elbow. It happened that Abdul-Jabbar broke his hand and was out for two months; otherwise he could have potentially inflicted serious harm and warranted a suspension. However, the stigma associated with Tomjanovich's near-death experience would follow Washington for years even after his retirement. Washington would only play for five more years in the NBA, being traded frequently because teams were unwilling to sign him.
A skilled defensive forward, Washington was known for his ability to gather rebounds. He averaged 9.2 points and 8.3 rebounds per game in ten NBA seasons and played in the All-Star Game once. Washington played for the Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics, San Diego Clippers, Portland Trail Blazers and Golden State Warriors.
Before making the NBA, Washington played collegiate basketball at American University and graduated with a degree in psychology.
Since retiring in 1983, Washington has run restaurants and is a founder and operator of a number of charitable organizations. He has also served in a coaching role with Stanford University.
In addition, Washington is involved with charity work in Africa for which he has drawn much praise from a plethora of people of all different walks of life. He also managed to reach out to the NBA, which -despite Washington's infamous reputation - has actually made monetary contributions to his charity work. He has also been a coach in the NBDL for one season. That one season, however, was all the time he needed to lead his team to the NBDL title.
Regular Season Stats