Consistently consistent. Unassumedly unassumed. Hal Greer just trucked along in the background of the 1960s NBA.
He never led the league in scoring, never came close in fact, but he was one of the league’s best scorers. He never came close to sniffing an assist title, but he was a crafty passer. He never made the All-NBA 1st Team, but he did tally seven straight All-NBA 2nd Team appearances and ten straight All-Star games.
Greer, as I said, just just trucked along in the background.
From 1961 to 1971, Greer never averaged below 18.6 points and never above 24.1. His teams made the playoffs every year from 1959 to 1971. During the same period, he played 1003 of a possible 1037 games. Players in the league recognized Greer as one of the exemplars of excellent guard play.
And yet he just trucks along in the background.
Even though he had one of the silkiest jump shots and played guard, he isn’t put down as one of the great shooting guards in NBA history when popular top 10 lists come out. When he retired in 1973, Greer had scored more points than any player to that point, except Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West, Oscar Robertson, and Elgin Baylor. He had also played more games than any player ever. Only Oscar, Wilt, and Bill Russell had played more minutes.
But Greer is in the background because he started his career in 1959 with the Syracuse Nationals, the smallest of the NBA’s markets at the time. At the beginning of his career in Syracuse, Dolph Schayes commanded what attention Syracuse received. Greer didn’t become a starter until 1961. From 1962 to 1964, Greer was the Nats/76ers best player (Syracuse having moved to Philly in 1963). However, it was the lowest ebb in talent for the club as its core of Schayes, Red Kerr, and Larry Costello aged, while a young Chet Walker was still maturing. Then in 1965 along came Wilt Chamberlain. Even with Wilt’s departure in 1968, a new star in Billy Cunningham assumed the mantle as Philly’s best player. Even on his own team, Greer had trouble standing out.
But just because someone fails to standout doesn’t mean they aren’t noteworthy. To this day, Greer remains unsurpassed in Nats/76ers history in total points scored and also played on their title-winning 1967 team that stormed the league for 68 regular season wins. So, he may have lay in the weeds all of his career, but so do the most dangerous of snakes.
And Hal Greer had one hell of a bite.
Seasons Played: 1959 – 1973
7x All-NBA 2nd Team (1963-’69)
10x All-Star (1961-’70)
All-Star Game MVP (1968)
NBA - 1122 Games
19.2 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 4.0 APG, 45.2% FG, 80.1% FT
23rd All-Time FGs Made, 29th All-Time Minutes Played
31st All-Time Points