Air Bud: The Story You Never Knew

Illustration for article titled Air Bud: The Story You Never Knew

In the coming days, you will hear many things about the life of Buddy “Air Bud” Framm. He was more than the world’s first canine professional athlete. He was also a high school All-American in several sports and was undeniably the life of wherever he traveled in his career. His professional career was plagued by off-court issues, but he was a shooting star across many playing fields. Some may even argue that his abundant talent was his downfall, as his greatest opponent was often his own boredom. Regardless, he lived a historic life before dying in 2020 of ebola. Today we shall account for every detail.


Framm was raised as “Dog” by Norm Snively, an alcoholic and bumbling clown. One fateful day, Buddy ran away from his abusive owner and found his way to his would-be adoptive family, the Framms. It is here that Buddy begins playing basketball for a middle school in Fernfield, Washington. Nevermind his awful owner, Josh, who only led Buddy to his sports. Buddy displayed latent talent for basketball, taking a team of incompetent children through the state championships. This alone was a feat in of at itself, but this was far from the end of his accomplishments.

One day, Josh’s mother, Jackie, brings a veterinarian back home to meet Josh. Trying to pull the “I want to be your friend so you can tell your mother about our interaction, therefore getting me tickets to the bone zone with your mother” move, the dipshit veterinarian throws a football at Buddy. What possesses a man to throw a full sized football at the head of a Golden Retriever (especially one that is supposed to doctor them!) is unclear, but from this decision, Buddy shows he can catch passes like no other. Yada yada yada, Buddy breaks ankles with some of the best juke moves, winning another championship. The Seahawks congratulate him, he gets an ovation on the field. Oh, he also stops a couple of Russian terrorists.


Because Josh uses Buddy as attempt to get it in with a girl from England by playing the sport of her people all white kids in Washington play soccer, Buddy also had a pretty historic run with soccer. You know how this story goes since Buddy achieves at everything he does, however the apex of this sports experience is a bit different. The US National Women’s Team utilizes Buddy to win the FIFA World Cup.

Buddy has an odd run in around his college years when his puppies are kidnapped by a raccoon and, for reasons still unclear, the Anaheim Angels end up letting him play in major leagues. It is unclear why, but the Angels wanted him to play baseball for them. No one knows what happened to the raccoon, but his puppies went on to star in their own films.


No one gives a shit about the time he played volleyball.

So, with a career already in the pros, Buddy could have paid the bills and pinch hit for the Angels, but this was the earliest sign of Buddy’s hubris winning over. He would eventually tell Rachel Nichols in an interview on ESPN that the reason he did not want to stick with the Angels was simple (Warning, much like most of Buddy’s quotes, this is NSFW):

“I hated baseball, man. I only started playing that shit because a little trash rodent stole my kids. I could have gotten paid, sure. But life ain’t all about the paper. I got up one day and said ‘fuck man, I miss hooping.’ and then that’s when Coach Cal hit me up.”


In 2007, head coach John Calipari recruited Buddy to play basketball in college for the University of Memphis. Calipari’s Memphis Tigers were the number two school in the country. Other talent recruited were 5 star point guard Derrick Rose (who would go on to win the 2010-2011 NBA MVP) and 4 star recruit Jeff Robinson (who would go on to play in Poland and lose in the second round in a basketball tournament designed for talent grasping at straws). The Memphis Tigers dominated the college basketball scene. This would all return to nothing. Indeed, it all came tumbling down, tumbling down, tumbling down as the NCAA soon realized that Coach Calipari had cheated. Derrick rose, as dumb as a box of rocks, could not pass his SAT, so they had a young man who looked vaguely like him show up to take his test. What the NCAA didn’t realize, actually, was that this scandal was only the beginning of the infractions. Buddy never achieved a GED. He was a dog, after all. Calipari had some folks do some Gray Fox shit and forge a GED to fool the big wigs long enough for him to give a scholarship to Buddy Framm to play at Memphis.

After a “One and Done”, Calipari urged Buddy to go pro because, like him and Rose, they were running away from Memphis before the NCAA caught on. For Rose, this was the Chicago Bulls. For Coach Cal, this was Kentucky. For Jeff Robinson, it was Seton Hall, followed by Poland. For Buddy, it was the Cleveland Cavaliers.


Leading into the 2008 NBA Draft, there was a great deal of controversy surrounding Buddy. As it would go for most of his professional career, many questioned his fit in a professional scene. He worked out for several teams, but there ultimately was no conclusion on where he would fit. Undrafted, Buddy ended up on the Cleveland Cavaliers. Starved to find talent to support LeBron James, the Cavaliers turned to the Golden Retriever. Executive Danny Ferry would later go on to say Buddy was “the greatest shooter in the class” but that “the world just wasn’t ready for a superstar on four legs.”

While LeBron distanced himself from the remarkably talented quadruped, many would speak highly of Framm. Of the Cavaliers, his best friends were Daniel “Boobie” Gibson and Ben Wallace.


“Bud. Man, that was my rook,” Wallace would recount. “I loved giving him shit. I would tell him in the middle of practices: ‘sit and stay like the good boy you are’ and he would bark back at me. Sometimes he would bark shit like ‘Motherfucker I’m closer to your sack than your lanky face is. I’ll show you what it means to travel with a ball.’ or, other times, he would legitimately bark at me. I miss him so much. He’d bring his kids to barbeques, man. Yeah, he would bring them pups because he knew all of our kids would love to play with them. Buddy always cared about everyone, even if he wasn’t the happiest.”

“Boobie” would share similar stories of endearment about the sporting group star:

“Everyone talks shit about Buddy and his work ethic,” Gibson recalled. “but I think his biggest challenge was that he would get the number of required shots up long before any of us were finally waking up. He’d be the last one out of the club and the first one in the gym that next morning. I swear that pup would have a hundred 3s drained before (Head Coach) Mike (Brown) would be in the building. All (Head Coach) Mike (Brown) ever saw was a lazy dog ready to move on to his next move. It didn’t help that one time Buddy shat in all of the coaching staff’s shoes after a demonstrative loss.


Cleveland Cavalier Head Coach Mike Brown was a defensive minded guru who had his favorites. More specifically, LeBron James was the one orchestrating who those favorites were. For whatever reason, LeBron had a hatred for Buddy. In all of my years of sports journalism, I never could find one unanimous answer. Some say Buddy knew about Delonte West’s....extracurricular activities that would be highlighted by team owner Dan Gilbert after LeBron’s departure from the team (just Google it). Others said that LeBron lost a game of one on one with Buddy and Buddy, as he would, talked enough trash to get LeBron angry enough to go straight to Danny Ferry to request Buddy get traded.

As everyone knows, “King James” and the Cavaliers would get defeated by the Orlando Magic in a heartbreaking fashion. The Cavaliers released Buddy in that off-season. After another year of failure, falling short to the Boston Celtics, LeBron made “The Decision” to go to Miami.


Buddy decided to take 2009 off from basketball.

“I fucking hated it, man.” Buddy admits in an interview with Howard Beck of Bleacher Report. “I knew LeBron was the reason I couldn’t play there anymore. I didn’t want to be in the same league as that poser.”


Buddy, looking for a challenge, joined the NFL. Signing as a wide receiver with the St. Louis Rams, Buddy played under Head Coach Steve Spagnuolo, just being hired off of an electric Super Bowl win with the New York Giants. Spagnuolo was a key figure in that title run as he was a defensive coordinator that battled wits with New England Patriots mastermind Bill Belichick. Buddy, as he usually was, did not care about the details around the coaching staff- he just wanted to catch a ball.

“That dumbass veterinarian broke a tooth with that first pass,” Buddy would explain. “but...shit, it was worth it.”


The media circus followed Buddy to St. Louis tightly. Crowds would erupt when he would catch a pass in practice, boo when the team wouldn’t throw to him, and call for him to get put in the sequence whenever he wasn’t part of the practice.

“I loved lining up opposite of Bud,” Wide Receiver Donnie Avery wrote. “When he was on the field, I knew he was going to take all of the defensive attention. That meant it was Donnie Time!”


Passes did not exactly come in abundance for the Rams. How did it go? Well...let Buddy tell you in this interview he had with ESPN’s Woody Paige.

“Of course I didn’t catch many passes,” Buddy barked. “Did you see our record?! You see who was throwing to me?! You try catching a pass from Marc Bulger. You’ll be sitting down field all day waiting. Pro Bowl talent right there. Right up there with the greats playing that year. Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning....Marc Bulger. Fuck that.”


Yearning for the hardwood again, Framm would return to basketball in 2010. The only place that would take him was the Minnesota Timberwolves. “Air Bud” was optimistic at the time.

“The way I saw it,” Buddy would tell ESPN The Ocho. “I played all those years for my owner’s teams and they were called the Timberwolves. Felt like a perfect fit for me. AND IT WAS! For a little bit, anyways.”


Buddy had a successful career as a role player for the Timberwolves from 2010-2016. Teammates and coaches loved him enough that he didn’t bounce around other teams once.

“My favorite teammate?” Buddy would recall. “Oh, man. Darko Miličić. Everyone trashed that guy, but he was the best friend I made in the league.”


We reached out to speak with Darko Miličić, but no one cared enough to know where he was located as of 2020.

Age would catch up to Buddy, as well as his addiction to marijuana. In July 2016, Buddy, along with unrelated NBA bum OJ Mayo, was dismissed from the NBA for violating the league’s anti-drug program.


“I should have stayed in football,” Buddy regretted. “Look at Josh Gordon. That dude gets nineteen second chances because he keeps getting suspended for smoking a J. You’re telling me the Cleveland Browns were so stacked at wideout that they couldn’t throw me the ball? Yeah, okay.”

Buddy would be in and out of police custody over the course of the next few years because of his eccentric lifestyle. Of his five puppies, Rosebud, the youngest, felt the most disturbed by her father’s behavior.


“I think it all went wrong when we got kidnapped, I do,” Rosebud would say. “I don’t think he was ready for fame. Mom would tell us that he would be out late partying between Angels games. If he stayed at home with us, I like to think he would have done it the right way. He loved basketball, and I know he would have had a great, honest career if he just played for somewhere Gonzaga. No one does drugs at Gonzaga.”

The world stood still March 24, 2020, when it was announced by the Framm estate that Buddy had died of ebola. The world was very confused as to how someone died of the last great pandemic we had. Regardless, many have come out and shared many stories. Ben Wallace would say that he was the reason he was able to move on into life after the NBA.


Middle school championship in basketball, high school football championship, Team USA Women’s World Cup Champion (???), pinch hitter for the Anaheim Angels, fan-favorie college basketball player, 3 point specialist for the Cleveland Cavaliers, WR for the St. Louis Rams, veteran player for the Minnesota Timberwolves, father of five puppies, loving dog husband, occasional poet, furious party animal, and, perhaps most importantly, the biggest hater of LeBron James. Buddy “Air Bud” Framm was a multi-faceted star shooting by in our lives.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter