Ex-NBA shot blocker Elmore Smith: I’ve been making barbecue sauce since I was 16

Elmore_SmithTo most, he is known as “Elmore the Rejector” — the big man who holds the NBA record with 17 blocked shots in a game.

On Oct. 28, 1973 in a 111-98 victory against the Portland Trail Blazers. Playing for the Los Angeles Lakers, Smith rejected 17 of the Blazers’ shots, a number that still stands as a single-game record.

More and more people are coming to know him as a man of the sauce.

“I’ve been making barbecue sauce since I was 16,” says Smith, who played with the Cavs from 1977 to ’79. “For years, I just made it for family and friends, but so many people said they loved it that I figured I’d get it out there into the public.”

Smith has been selling his sauce since 2006, online at elmoresmithbbqsauce.com and via his Elmore Smith’s Smokehouse Restaurant, located in The Q.

“I played with four teams in the NBA,” says Elmore Smith, who made stops in Buffalo, Los Angeles and Milwaukee before playing for the Cavs.

“Cleveland was by far the best experience. And the guys I played with were all good friends, and we still all stay in touch.”

“I like wine, but I can’t say that I’m a wine connoisseur,” he adds. “But I am a great cook — I learned from my mom and dad, and both were excellent cooks.”

Along the way, Smith, a native of Georgia, learned to make his sauce with less vinegar than most Southern concoctions.

“I’ve traveled a lot and created a sauce that mixes what you might find in the South and in California,” he says. “I’m telling you, people really love it. They clean us out every game at The Q and you wouldn’t believe how many people say, ‘This is nothing like arena food.’ “

Perhaps they’re afraid they’d be rejected by Smith if they did.

“No, ask Campy or Austin Carr or anyone,” he says. “I’ve been making it for people since 1974 and still haven’t found anyone who has eaten my sauce who hasn’t loved it.”

Smith played in 562 NBA games, averaging 13.4 ppg, 10.6 rpg and 2.9 bpg in 31.8 minutes on the court.

During the 1973-74 season, Smith averaged 4.9 blocks per game. In 1973-74 and 1974-75 Smith led the NBA with 393 and 216 blocks in a season, respectively.


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