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Wayne Richard Embry (born March 26, 1937 in Springfield, Ohio) is a retired American basketball player; a center/forward whose 11 year career spanned from 1959 to 1969. He played for the Cincinnati Royals, Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks all of the NBA.

He attended Miami University and Tecumseh High School (New Carlisle, Ohio) before that.

He played in the NBA All-Star game for five consecutive seasons (1961-1965) and won the NBA Championship with the Celtics in 1968. Embry was originally drafted by the St. Louis Hawks in 1958. He was then traded closer to home weeks later to the Cincinnati Royals. The Royals were rebuilding due to the collapse of the team following the hospitalization of team star Maurice Stokes. Star center Clyde Lovellette was traded to St. Louis for Embry and four others. Not always a starter initially, Embry stuck around long enough for Oscar Robertson to arrive in 1960, reviving the fallen team. Embry, Robertson and Jack Twyman were all NBA All-Stars for Cincinnati over the next three years. Embry's play was notable for his pick and roll play with Robertson, whose encouragement improved Embry's game. A powerful 6' 8 and 255 pound, Embry at times appeared to be a blocker on the court, a protector of teammates. But he also had a fine all-around game. In 1963, he was named Team Captain of the Royals. The 1963-64 Cincinnati Royals surged to the second-best record in the NBA, with teammate Jerry Lucas now added. But the team was not able to surpass the Boston Celtics of Red Auerbach and Bill Russell, or the Philadelphia 76ers with Wilt Chamberlain in their quest for a NBA title. Perhaps unfairly, Embry was heavily criticized for not helping All-Pros Robertson and Lucas to a title in Cincinnati. He was also worn out from the racial divide he felt on the team by early 1966. Retiring to be a regional sales leader for Pepsi-Cola, Embry was talked out of retirement by friend Bill Russell, the new player/coach for Boston. Embry played crucial reserve minutes for Russell and aided that team's surprising 1967-68 NBA title run. When the Milwaukee Bucks were formed, they claimed Embry from the Celtics and Embry centered the Bucks for the 1968-69 season. He later became an assistant manager for the team, keeping an eye for former Royals teammates he could lure to the rising contender. He was instrumental in numerous signings to aid the team, including Robertson. His remarkable teaming with then-named Lew Alcindor quickly produced a NBA title, with Embry by then rising into Milwaukee's front office.

After retiring as a player he became the first African American NBA general manager, managing Milwaukee Bucks (1971-1979), Cleveland Cavaliers (1986-1999), and Toronto Raptors (2006). He was selected NBA Executive of the Year in 1992 and 1998. His most remembered moves as a general manager was his controversial 1975 trade of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar from the Milwaukee Bucks to the Los Angeles Lakers, and his disastrous 1989 Cavaliers trade of Ron Harper and two first-round draft picks to the Los Angeles Clippers in exchange for the rights to Danny Ferry. The former trade was requested by Jabbar, and brought a good return of five players that helped return the team to contention in the 1980s, even as Jabbar remained a superstar in Los Angeles. The latter trade was made to alleged associations Harper had with men who were being criminally investigated. While Ferry was not the pro star he had been in college, the Cavaliers were a strong NBA title contender under Embry just as Milwaukee had been. Unlike Jabbar, Harper was not the star elsewhere that he was in under Embry. Embry was also very instrumental in making strong draft selections for both organizations.

In 2004, Embry was hired to be the Senior Basketball Advisor to the rookie General Manager for the Toronto Raptors' Rob Babcock. After one season, Embry was elevated to Senior Advisor to the President, bypassing Babcock in the chain of command when the board cited a lack of confidence in Babcock's moves. On January 26, 2006, Wayne was named the interim general manager for the Raptors after the firing of Babcock.

During his one month tenure as interim G.M., Embry completed two trades. His first one involved trading disgruntled center Aaron Williams to the New Orleans Hornets for second round draft picks in 2006 and 2009. "Out of respect to Aaron, I thought it best for him to be with a team where he has a chance to play and that is in a playoff hunt," Embry said.[1]

His second trade involved dealing Jalen Rose, a first round draft pick, and an undisclosed sum of cash (believed to be around $3 million), to the New York Knicks in exchange for 38 year-old ex-Raptor Antonio Davis. The motivation behind this trade was apparently to free up cap space (Rose earned close to $15 million a year) as well as to acquire an experienced center who could relieve some of Chris Bosh's rebounding duties.

When the Raptors signed Bryan Colangelo as their new president and general manager on February 28, 2006, Embry returned to his role as Senior Advisor.

He was enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1999 (not as a player, but as a contributor).

Embry is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha, the first intercollegiate Greek-letter fraternity established for African Americans.

References

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