Bob Pettit

Born: December 12, 1932
Position: Power forward
Professional Career:
Milwaukee Hawks (NBA): 1954-’55
St. Louis Hawks (NBA): 1955-’65

Bob Pettit layup

“I never tried to be a team leader in basketball. I wasn’t a guy who did a lot of talking. I just wanted everybody to see that I worked hard, that I’d give my full effort all the time. In business, I try to surround myself with the best people and then let them do their thing.” And if that doesn’t succeed? “Then we all sit down, talk it over, and work things out.”

– Via Dr. Jack Ramsay’s “Transition Game: Bob Pettit”

That’s a fairly accurate description Bob Pettit gave of himself in that interview with Jack Ramsay. Many have worked as hard as Pettit but none harder. You listen to him speak for any length of time and invariably he returns to the ethos of hard work, determination and consistency. These would be hallmarks of his Hall of Fame career.

Bob’s initial forays into basketball were strongly encouraged by his father, a sheriff in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Despite being cut from the high school team twice, the practice ultimately paid off as Pettit eventually made the squad and would subsequently led them to the Louisiana state title. A fairly successful stint at Louisiana State University followed where he averaged ho-hum 27 points and 15 rebounds a game in his time as a Tiger. His play in these years, however, was predicated on him being a back-to-the-basket, low post threat. And at 6’9″ he had the height, but with only a scant 200 lbs to that frame, he didn’t have the weight to succeed in the pros that way.

So, Pettit totally retooled his game upon entering the NBA and would prove to better than ever.

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Lou Hudson

Born: July 11, 1944
Died: April 11, 2014
Position: Small forward / Shooting guard
Professional Career:
St. Louis Hawks (NBA): 1966-’68
Atlanta Hawks (NBA): 1968-’77
Los Angeles Lakers  (NBA): 1977-’79

Lou Hudson
Lou Hudson

…Sweet Lou, sweet as in cool jazz put down by a lightly plucked bass and the hushed swirling of brushes around a drumhead. His skin is the color of light coffee, his features regular and smooth, his temperament equable. His game is heavy on the sugar: there is a gentle rhythm to his constant motion on offense and a classic softness in his jump shot, of which there is none prettier.

Via “He’s Shooting the Works” by Peter Carry

Cool Jazz: Lou Hudson was indeed a cool character on the court. His seeming lack of flair is probably to blame for his footnote status in NBA history. To boot, he spent the bulk of his playing days in the cold outer reaches of the basketball universe. First was his collegiate stint at the University of Minnesota under coach John Kundla, who won several titles as coach of the Minneapolis Lakers in the NBL, BAA, and NBA, but achieved little with the Golden Gophers. Second, Hudson was drafted a lofty #4 by the St. Louis Hawks in 1966 after averaging a 20-and-8 with a broken wrist during his senior year at Minnesota.

As you may know, the Hawks are no longer in St. Louis, so any potential myth/narrative/memory of Hudson carrying on the torch lit by Bob Pettit, Ed Macauley & co. was squashed. Third, those Hawks moved to Atlanta in 1968, a city notorious – fair or not – for its fair-weather attitude toward professional sports. However, like a cool, swinging jazz bass, you may not consciously notice Hudson was expertly plying his craft, but just like that bass once you are awakened to Lou’s presence, you deeply dig the groove.

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Tommy Heinsohn

Born: August 26, 1934
Position: Power Forward
Professional Career:
Boston Celtics (NBA): 1956-’65

Tom Heinsohn SI

Tom Heinsohn’s influence in today’s NBA has boiled down to how many Tommy Points he hands out on a given night to the Boston Celtics. Or how many vitriolic rants he aims toward incompetent referees.

Back in the day, though, Heinsohn still dished out points, but they were the ones that actually counted on the court. As the Boston Celtics’ official gunner, he shot so much and so often that he was nicknamed “Tommy Gun” and “Ack-Ack.” You know, “Ack-Ack” as in the sound a tommy guns made in those old black-and-white gangster movies.

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Bailey Howell

Born: January 20, 1937
Position: Power Forward
Professional Career:
Detroit Pistons (NBA): 1959-1964
Baltimore Bullets (NBA): 1964-1966
Boston Celtics (NBA): 1966-1970
Philadelphia 76ers (NBA): 1970-1971

Bailey_Howell

The Lowdown: A great power forward, Bailey Howell wasn’t the type of player to demand glory, attention, or top status in a team’s pecking order. He desired a key role, but he never sought out acclaim. Despite a routine average of 20 points and 10 rebounds a game, most of his career was spent on middling teams. A fateful trade to the Boston Celtics in 1966 gave Howell the opportunity to play an integral and needed role in keeping the last few seasons of the Celtic Dynasty alive. That balanced team environment was what the six-time All-Star desired all his career. Better late than never for the maniacal rebounder and hustling forward.

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The Lost All-NBA 3rd Teams: 1968-69 Season

1969 All-NBA 3rd Team
Jerry Lucas (top L), Chet Walker (bottom L), Wilt Chamberlain (center), Jeff Mullins (top R), Walt Frazier (bottom R)

 

Ed. Note: Prior to the 1988-89 season, the NBA only had All-NBA 1st and All-NBA 2nd Teams. To fill in that historical award gap, the crack Pro Hoops History committee of one has gone back and created the Lost All-NBA 3rd Teams.

This All-NBA 3rd Team is an admixture of legends entering the final phases of their career (Wilt Chamberlain and Jerry Lucas), a player squarely in his prime (Chet Walker), and two rising stars (Jeff Mullins and Walt Frazier).

To this point in his decade-long career, Wilt Chamberlain had alternated with Bill Russell for honors on the All-NBA 1st or 2nd Team. Now in 1969, though, Wilt joined the Los Angeles Lakers forming a triumvirate with Elgin Baylor (All-NBA 1st Team) and Jerry West (All-NBA 2nd Team). Chamberlain’s production dipped, but he also suffered from the league overreacting to Wes Unseld’s rookie season, catapulting the Baltimore Bullet star to the league’s 1st Team and MVP honors. Knicks’ center Willis Reed occupied the 2nd Team spot, so here is Wilt accepting a 3rd place finish despite averaging 20.5 PPG, 21.1 RPG, and 4.5 APG.

Power forward Jerry Lucas was in his sixth season and put up numbers comparable to Wilt’s: 18 PPG, 18 RPG,  and 4 APG. The Cincinnati Royals big man’s partnership with Oscar Robertson was at an end, though. Following their 41-41 finish this year, Lucas was traded to the San Francisco Warriors for a new phase in his basketball career.

Lucas would be joining the stellar shooting guard Jeff Mullins. With Rick Barry having jumped to the ABA, Mullins emerged as the Warriors go-to scorer in the late 1960s. This season was perhaps his finest. The cat-like Mullins averaged over 22 PPG with 6 rebounds and nearly 4.5 assists.

Going to the opposite coast, the New York Knicks’ point guard Walt Frazier blossomed this year. His growth along with the acquisition of Dave DeBusschere pushed the Knicks into the realm of title contenders for the first time in 15 years. In only his 2nd season, Frazier served notice to the NBA that he was likely to inherit the title of best point guard from the aging Oscar Robertson.

Lastly, the ever-steady Chet Walker entered his seventh and final season with Philadelphia 76ers franchise. His scoring was about as it always was, but with an increasing offensive efficiency, Chet the Jet was becoming more dangerous than ever. His new career-highs in FG% and FT% (plus an MVP-caliber campaign from Billy Cunningham and the rock steady Hal Greer) allowed the 76ers to surprise the league after losing Wilt to L.A. Philly finished with the 2nd-best record in the entire NBA (55-27).

Position Player Team G PPG RPG APG FG% FT% WS PER
F Chet Walker Philadelphia 76ers 82 18.0 7.8 1.8 0.484 0.804 9.8 16.7
F Jerry Lucas Cincinnati Royals 74 18.3 18.4 4.1 0.551 0.755 9.5 20.6
C Wilt Chamberlain Los Angeles Lakers 81 20.5 21.1 4.5 0.583 0.446 14.7 21.9
G Jeff Mullins San Francisco Warriors 78 22.6 5.9 4.3 0.459 0.843 10.0 18.9
G Walt Frazier New York Knicks 80 17.5 6.2 7.9 0.505 0.746 12.7 20.2

Paul Silas

Born: July 12, 1941
Position: Power Forward
Professional Career:
St. Louis Hawks (NBA): 1964-’68
Atlanta Hawks (NBA): 1968-’69
Phoenix Suns (NBA): 1969-’72
Boston Celtics (NBA): 1972-’76
Denver Nuggets (NBA): 1976-’77
Seattle SuperSonics (NBA): 1977-’80


Paul Silas (spokeo)
(spokeo)

The Lowdown: Paul Silas was never much of a scorer, but his NBA career lasted 16 years thanks to his grinding defensive play and tireless effort on the boards. Silas was also heralded for the accountability he demanded from all teammates. He could begrudgingly forgive mistakes, but never a lack of effort. With this ensemble of talent, hustle, and personality, Silas carved out a place on two All-Star Teams and three NBA champions during his lengthy career.
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Elgin Baylor

Born: September 16, 1934
Position: Small Forward
Professional Career:
Minneapolis Lakers (NBA): 1958 – 1960
Los Angeles Lakers (NBA): 1960 – 1971


Elgin Baylor

The Lowdown: An exciting, acrobatic small forward, Elgin Baylor scored in ways few people had ever seen before. His array of gliding, hanging one-handers and contorting layups captivated opponents and fans for 13 NBA seasons. His prolific scoring average of 27.4 points per game – the fourth-highest career average in NBA history – speaks to his excellent offensive production. A fine passer and rebounder for his position as well, Baylor was selected to 10 All-NBA 1st Teams in a span of 11 years.

Despite his supreme gifts and determination, Baylor never played for an NBA champion. His Laker teams lost eight times in the NBA Finals – including four Game 7 heartbreaks. Nonetheless, his abilities cannot be denied or underestimated for the serious student and appreciator of basketball. Off the court, Baylor was a gregarious personality who also ushered in desegregation of player accommodations and stood up for players’ labor rights.
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