Berry Tramel

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Oklahoma City Thunder: Guess who discovered Beno Udrih?

by Berry Tramel Modified: April 22, 2014 at 3:40 pm •  Published: April 22, 2014

Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook (0) looks to pass around New York Knicks point guard Beno Udrih (18) during the first half of an NBA basketball game at Madison Square Garden, Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2013, in New York. The Thunder won 123-94. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook (0) looks to pass around New York Knicks point guard Beno Udrih (18) during the first half of an NBA basketball game at Madison Square Garden, Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2013, in New York. The Thunder won 123-94. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

The Thunder was done in by Memphis’ backup point guard, Beno Udrih, in Game 2 of their Western Conference playoff series. Take a bow, Sam Presti.

The Thunder general manager was part of the Spurs’ brain trust back in the day that selected a slew of international players. In fact, San Antonio media has credited Presti for discovering Udrih. Just another in a long line of San Antonio finds from across the sea. Tony Parker, Luis Scola, Leandro Barbosa, Beno Udrih and Ian Mahinmi, all picked by the Spurs. Parker, in particular, was considered a Presti find. He kept pushing for the Spurs to take a second look at Parker, and that’s turned out all right for San Antonio.

Udrih is from Slovenia — the same nation as Suns point guard Goran Dragic. In fact, during Game 1 of the OKC-Memphis series, I told someone that Udrih reminds me of Dragic in actions and style. Just not as good, although I guess in the wake of Game 2, that latter stance needs to be revisited. Scored 14 points on Monday night, on 6-of-8 shooting.

Not bad for a point guard who had bested 14 points only three times all season, with the Knickerbockers. Udrih was waived on Feb. 24 and signed with the Grizzlies three days later.

Udrih has had a decent career. He spent four years with the Kings and made 228 starts for Sacramento. Udrih signed with the Knicks last August. Udrih was with the Knicks on Christmas Day, when Russell Westbrook had that monster game. Udrih played almost 30 minutes and went 1-for-6 from the field, with two turnovers and six assists.

Four months later, Westbrook didn’t have such a monster game and Udrih was instrumental in making this Western Conference series very much alive.

Udrih was picked by the Spurs in the first round of the 2004 NBA Draft, 28th overall. He spent three years in San Antonio, averaging just 13.0 minutes per game, backing up Parker.

Udrih now is 31 and a total journeyman. But he had quite the game against the Thunder. Wouldn’t have been possible if Presti’s eye for international talent hadn’t spotted Udrih so many years ago.


by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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