Smits in 2008
August 23, 1966 |
|Listed height||7 ft 4 in (2.24 m)|
|Listed weight||250 lb (113 kg)|
|NBA draft||1988 / Round: 1 / Pick: 2nd overall|
|Selected by the Indiana Pacers|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NBA statistics|
|Points||12,871 (14.8 ppg)|
|Rebounds||5,277 (6.1 rpg)|
|Blocks||1,111 (1.3 bpg)|
|Stats at Basketball-Reference.com|
Rik Smits, nicknamed The Flying Dutchman (born August 23, 1966), is a retired Dutch professional basketball player who spent his entire professional career with the Indiana Pacers of the National Basketball Association. The 7'4" (2.24 m) center was drafted by the Pacers out of Marist College with the second overall pick in the 1988 NBA draft. An NBA All-Star in 1998, Smits reached the NBA Finals in 2000.
Smits was born in Eindhoven. He started playing basketball at age fourteen at PSV/Almonte in Eindhoven. Smits left for the United States in 1984, where he played for Marist College for four years. He got drafted 2nd overall in the 1988 NBA draft by the Indiana Pacers.
With the Pacers, Smits originally backed up Steve Stipanovich, but when Stipanovich suffered a career-ending injury, Smits ended up starting 71 games in his rookie year, averaging 11.7 points and 6.1 rebounds per game and earning All-Rookie First Team honors. Smits continued to average double-digit point totals in every year of his career, but it wasn't until the 1993–94 NBA season that Smits really came into his own as a team leader.
Throughout the Pacers' playoff runs in the mid and late 1990s, Smits was considered the number two player, behind Reggie Miller, on the deeply talented Pacers team. Smits' highest point-per-game average was in 1995–96 when he averaged 18.5 points per game, relatively modest by NBA "superstar" standards, but the Dutchman endeared himself to Pacers fans with outstanding playoff performances, most notably in Game 4 of the 1995 Eastern Conference Finals where he made a buzzer-beating shot to tie the series.
Smits was named to the Eastern Conference All-Star team in 1998, delivering 10 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists, including a spectacular behind-the-back pass to New Jersey Nets forward Jayson Williams who followed immediately with a slam dunk.
Smits developed nerve damage in his feet from wearing tight shoes as a teenager. Foot problems hobbled Smits for the majority of his career, and he retired at the conclusion of the Pacers' 1999–2000 season, after Indiana was defeated by the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals 4 games to 2.
After four surgeries to repair nerve damage to his feet, Smits underwent intensive back surgery in November 2009 to correct cracks in one joint that link his vertebrae. Smits has also undergone arthroscopic surgery on his left knee and had bone chips removed from his left ankle.
Smits became the most successful Dutch basketball player ever, as well as the country's best paid professional athlete of all time with an estimated accumulated capital of more than 125 million dollars.
Life after the NBA
After his retirement, Smits is devoting his time to collecting and racing vintage motocross motorcycles. On November 30, 2011, Smits was featured in Yahoo! Sports, about his formal participation in competitive motorcross racing. In 2008 Smits won the AHRMA Vintage National Premier 500 Intermediate Class riding a BSA 500.
NBA career statistics
|GP||Games played||GS||Games started||MPG||Minutes per game|
|FG%||Field goal percentage||3P%||3-point field goal percentage||FT%||Free throw percentage|
|RPG||Rebounds per game||APG||Assists per game||SPG||Steals per game|
|BPG||Blocks per game||PPG||Points per game||Bold||Career high|
Rik Smits has a son named Derrik Smits who stands 7 ft tall and is committed to Valparaiso University as a 2015 high school graduate.
- Alumni Association Executive Board: Marist College
- 1988 NBA Draft | Basketball-Reference.com
- Pablo S. Torre (2011-07-04). "Larger Than Real Life". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 2015-04-19.
- "Derrik Smits Basketball Recruit Page". Rivals Recruiting. Rivals (Yahoo). Retrieved 13 November 2015.