The Buffalo News

No mistaking Carter's all-around, hall-of-fame talent

This is the fifth in a series of Saturday stories profiling the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame's Class of 2012

George Carter thought the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame committee had made a mistake.

"When they got in touch with me, I was like: 'Are you sure you got the right person?' " said Carter, who now lives in Las Vegas, Nev. "It's an honor, because there are some great people I know who came from that area."

Perhaps he had forgotten he accomplished something unheard of; very few athletes are drafted professionally in three different sports.

After Carter, a Silver Creek alum, graduated from St. Bonaventure in 1967, he was drafted by teams from the NBA (Detroit Pistons, 81st overall), NFL (Buffalo Bills, 13th round) and MLB (New York Mets, 52nd round).

"I really didn't think about it too much," Carter said. "I was fortunate that something that good would happen to me. I always felt I was a pretty good athlete, but as far as everybody drafting me in three different sports, it was fantastic. It was a great feeling."

He chose basketball, and he's happy he did. It was his favorite sport all along. But the 6-foot-4 forward didn't get to play until he spent two years in the military.

Carter became an ABA all-star after his service was up, averaging over 18 points and nearly seven boards a game over 478 career games. He played for eight different teams in his seven years in the ABA.

Despite his success on the professional level, Carter considers St. Bonaventure the apex of his career.

"The university itself is one of the best universities in the country," he said. "The people you're surrounded by, the people I played ball with, it was just the greatest university. Very comfortable, very relaxing atmosphere. It was everything you could want."

Ask what part of his career was most rewarding and the man known as "Dirty Dingus" won't hesitate: His 1974 induction into the St. Bonaventure Hall of Fame. His career rebounding average as a Bonnie (12.4) is second only to Bob Lanier.

It could be argued that Carter was one of the best athletic talents to ever emerge from Western New York. He made The News' all-1960s basketball first team (and all-time second team), and excelled in four sports in high school. Carter made the all-WNY team twice for basketball and once for football. In addition to excelling on the baseball diamond, Carter was the area's best 100-yard sprinter.

Not your everyday athlete.

Now a limousine driver living alone in Las Vegas - "it's been that way for quite a few years," he said - Carter hasn't been back to Buffalo since the early '90s when his mother passed away. He'll be recovering from surgery when the Hall of Fame induction ceremony takes place Oct. 17.

"I won't be able to make it in, but it's such a great honor," Carter said, reiterating how thankful and shocked he is to join 13 distinguished inductees.

Though he hasn't been back in town in a while, Carter has fond memories of the people in Buffalo.

"I hope they just think of me as being a good athlete and I don't know how to say the joy that I felt," Carter said, "just the enthusiasm from the way people treated me. I really appreciate that, that they did enjoy watching me perform when I was in Western New Y ork."

Those who watched Carter perform likely will not remember him as a good athlete. More like a once in a lifetime one.

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