During the first quarter of Monday’s Mavericks-Clippers game, Clippers announcers Ralph Lawler and Don MacLean took a look back and discussed the draft day trade that sent Dirk Nowitzki (and Pat Garrity) to Dallas in 1998, in exchange for Robert “Tractor” Traylor to Milwaukee. Such a lopsided trade seemed like prime fodder for clowning, and Lawler and MacLean did not miss the opportunity:
MacLean: I guess Milwaukee didn’t see it either, they drafted [Nowitzki] and then traded him to Dallas draft day, for Robert “Tractor” Traylor. Who’s he playing for now?
Lawler: The, uh, Detroit YMCA over-40 league.
Roasted! Except, uh, Traylor died of a heart attack in 2011 at the age of 34. The center, who had a seven-season career in the NBA, was playing for Puerto Rico’s Vaqueros de Bayamón at the time, where he had become a team leader and a fan favorite, according to then-coach Jose Carlos Perez:
He was a leader of the team. He was very, very friendly. He got along very well with everyone. The fans loved him, idolized him.
Someone informed Lawler and MacLean of where Traylor actually was, and they issued an apology in the second quarter:
Lawler: We made light earlier that [Nowitzki] was traded from Milwaukee to Dallas in exchange for Robert “Tractor” Traylor. I was wondering what Robert “Tractor” Traylor was doing today—totally slipping my mind and I guess Don’s mind that he passed away a couple of years ago. So, may he rest in peace and our apologies.
MacLean: Yeah, apologies. I didn’t realize that.
If you, too, had forgotten that “Tractor” Traylor died eight years ago, at least you didn’t have to process that fact live at a televised NBA game.