By all rights, Bo Outlaw should have been an awful basketball player.
Sure, he had the height, standing at 6-foot-8. And he could run fast and jump high. But he was a string bean, listed at 210 pounds. He couldn't shoot or handle the ball.
It's no surprise he went undrafted out of Houston. But on Valentine's Day, 1994, Outlaw signed the first of two ten-day contracts with the Los Angeles Clippers. And so began a 15-year NBA career, including eight with the Orlando Magic.
Not bad for an undrafted, unskilled combo forward.
Outlaw made up for what he lacked in skills with hustle. Lots of hustle. The sort of hustle that'll prompt standing ovations from home crowds and'll leave opposing coaches shaking their heads. Outlaw pursued rebounds and loose balls with a ferocity and urgency I've not seen in any player before or since.
Outlaw, then, became a cult icon in the City Beautiful, and he came along at just the right time: he signed with Orlando two seasons after Shaquille O'Neal departed for the Los Angeles Lakers. Magic faithful needed a hustling, hard-hat-and-lunchpail sort of player in whom to believe. Bo provided that.
He also proved to be a deft all-around player, a Shawn Marion before Shawn Marion was Shawn Marion: he defended four positions with aplomb, found seams in opposing defenses to sneak in for easy buckets, and made intelligent reads from the high post.
But Bo's energy and versatility were far from the only factors that made him beloved in Orlando. Bo did everything with a smile. A big, wide grin. The sort of grin that helps one forgive--if not forget--his slow, one-handed free-throw shooting motion.
Outlaw earned the Rich and Helen DeVos Community Enrichment Award thrice in his Magic career, second in franchise history only to Dwight Howard. Even in retirement, Bo's still active in the community as an ambassador for the organization, serving alongside former teammate Nick Anderson.
So today, as SB Nation's NBA blogs salute cult favorites around the league, Orlando Pinstriped Post doffs its cap to one Charles "Bo" Outlaw, a brilliant player and even better human being. For defying the odds. For approaching everything in life with a broad smile. For giving at least one nine-year-old Magic fan a reason to cheer.
Here's to you, Bo.