Larry Kenon had helped Memphis State reach the national championship game in the 1973 NCAA Tournament, but after his lone varsity season with the Tigers, Kenon opted to declare for the pro drafts after his sophomore season.
The Detroit Pistons of the NBA took Kenon in the third round in the 1973 NBA Draft, but a little more than a week later, Kenon cast his lot with the ABA’s New York Nets.
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There was just one small detail that was amiss. Kenon had been selected in the ABA’s Special Circumstances Draft in January 1973, a draft of players expected to make themselves available prior to graduating.
But it wasn’t the Nets who had taken Kenon, it was the Memphis Tams, who were understandably annoyed at New York signing their draft pick.
As was often the case in the ABA, money talked. The Nets sent cash to the Tams, along with reserves Johnny Baum and Jim Ard, in September 1973 and the case was closed.
Kenon made an immediate difference, teaming with newly acquired julius Erving to give the Nets two All-Star forwards in 1973-74. Kenon wound up sixth in the ABA in rebounding while earning an All-Rookie berth.
He appeared in all 84 games, averaging 15.9 points and 11.5 rebounds in 34.6 minutes per game while shooting .462/0-for-1/.703.
His production maintained constant in the playoffs, as Kenon put up 15.8 points, 11.6 rebounds and 1.1 steals in 33.6 minutes a game, shooting .495/—/.613 while New York rolled through three postseason series in 14 games en route to its first ABA title.
Kenon was an All-Star again in 1975 for the Nets before he was dealt to the San Antonio Spurs in June 1975 in exchange for a fellow All-Star, center Swen Nater.
He went on to go to two NBA All-Star games with the Spurs and also played with the Chicago Bulls and had short stints with the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers before his career flamed out in 1983, when he was just 30 years old.