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A scrawny Bob Pettit overcame not making his high school team during his freshman and sophomore years. He worked on his game and went on the become an NBA Hall of Fame player and qualifies as one of the 12 players on our NBA all-time best NBA team - (The Sporting News Collection photo)

 

 

Bob Pettit as a player of the then St. Louis Hawks was the first recipient of the NBA's Most Valuable Player Award. He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1970 - (Joseph Solislphoto)

 

 

SPORTS NOTES - NBA's ALL-TIME GREATEST PLAYERS TEAM

James Loving/National Radio Text Service

 

 

We have assembled the NBA's greatest ever players that span seven decades of league play. As great as many of the players in the game today those from the early stages of the league during the 50's & 60's dominate the squad. LeBron James is the only current player that qualified for this very special lineup

 

Saturday, October 25, 2014

OLD SCHOOL DOMINATES

In June of 2013 we raised the question who would you (basketball fan) select as your best player Kobe Bryant or Michael Jordan? This was the germane in our decision to select our best ever all-time NBA team. Two eras dominate our squad with those being five players from the 50's but primarily 60's and the era of the four players from 80's that matured in the 90's and became America's first ever Olympic Dream Team in 1992. Our selections from that Dream team are Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Karl Malone. Paradoxically LeBron James is the only player currently in the league that made our squad.

The elder group is the most significant since they laid the foundation that resulted in the tower of strength that the NBA is today. Five of our 12 player squad is from that period. They include forward Elgin Baylor who is the only player that we consider in the class of Michael Jordan and perhaps was better then Jordan, during his injury free years in the league. The 6'5" forward was stronger then Jordan, as good a shooter and perhaps a bit quicker.

Centers Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain join him along with guard Oscar Robertson the only guard to average a triple double for a season. Center forward Bob Pettit, who is the oldest player on this squad, is our 5th 50's/60's era selection.

Pettit was the first recipient of the NBA's Most Valuable Player Award. He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1970. The lean mean white fighting machine that is from the southern US state of Louisiana played during a time when there were very few black players in the league and many of American schools and universities were segregated. His career spanned 11 seasons in the NBA, all with the Milwaukee/St. Louis Hawks (1954-1965).

Like Michael Jordan, Pettit's basketball career had humble beginnings. At Baton Rouge High School, he was cut from the varsity basketball team as both a freshman and sophomore as was Jordan. Pettit played church league basketball as a sophomore and grew five inches in less than a year. His father, Sheriff of East Baton Rouge Parish (1932-1936), pushed him to practice in the backyard of the Kemmerly house until he improved his skills.

After high school, Pettit had scholarship offers from 14 universities but he accepted a scholarship to play at Louisiana State University. He was a three-time All-Southeastern Conference selection and a two-time All American as a member of the LSU men's basketball team. (Freshmen were not allowed to play varsity basketball in those days.) During those three years, Pettit averaged 27.8 points per game.

Pettit averaged 31.4 points and 17.3 rebounds per game during his senior year and once again led LSU to an SEC Championship and garnered All-SEC and All-American honors. He set a then-SEC scoring record of 60 points against Louisiana College in his second game, and also the SEC record for scoring average, with both record being broken by Pete Maravich. Pettit also was the second player in major-college basketball history to average more than 30 points a game. In 1954, the Milwaukee Hawks selected Pettit second in the first round of the NBA Draft after the Baltimore Bullets' selection of Frank Selvy. With $100 in the bank, he signed a contract with Hawks owner Ben Kerner for $11,000 - an all-time high for an NBA rookie then.

In the 1958 NBA Finals Pettit led the Hawks to an NBA Championship with a then-playoff record 50 points in the Hawks' 110-109 series clinching victory in game 6. For the season, Pettit scored 24.6 ppg and pulled down 17.4 rpg, and earned All-Star Game MVP honors with a performance that included 28 points and 26 rebounds. Pettit's league leading scoring average of 29.2 points per game in the 1958-59 season was an NBA record at the time, and he was named the Sporting News NBA MVP. In the 1960-61 season, Pettit averaged 27.9 points per game and pulled down 20.3 rebounds per game, making him one of only five players to ever break the 20 rpg barrier. He along with Wilt Chamberlain and Jerry Lucas are the only three people who averaged more than twenty points and twenty rebounds in an NBA season. In the following season, he scored a career best 31.1 points per game.

Pettit was an NBA All-Star in each of his 11 seasons, was named to the All-NBA First Team ten times, and was named to the All-NBA Second Team once. Pettit still holds the top two NBA All-Star Game rebounding performances with 26 in 1958 and 27 in 1962, and has the second highest All-Star Game points per game average with 20.4 (behind only Oscar Robertson).

Pettit averaged at least 20 points per game and at least 12 rebounds per game in each of his 11 NBA seasons. He never finished below seventh in the NBA scoring race and no other retired player in NBA history other than Pettit and Alex Groza (who played only two seasons) has averaged more than 20 points per game in every season they've played (note: Michael Jordan averaged exactly 20 points per game in his final season).

My most memorable moment of Pettit was when the St. Louis Hawks came to play the then Philadelphia Warriors. I was sitting in on the colonnade behind the basket on the 2nd level. Somehow Pettit collided with Warriors center Neil Johnson and elbowed him in the nose at the top of the circle near me. I could hear Johnson's nose crack and to this day the thought of it makes me shudder. At that time Johnson was a major star in the league and had won two league scoring titles. Bob Pettit is one of the toughest players ever to play the game.

NBA's ALL-TIME BEST - Part 1

NBA's ALL TIME 1st TEAM - Part 2

THE NBA's ALL TIME GREATEST PLAYERS - Part 3

NBA's BEST - Red Auerbach TOPS Phil Jackson - Part 4

NBA's BEST - 12th MAN - Part 5

THE NBA's GREATEST of ALL TIME
1st Team
Position
2nd Team
Larry Bird
PF
Elgin Baylor
SF
Julius Erving
Bill Russell
C
Wilt Chamberlain
Michael Jordan
SG
LeBron James
Magic Johnson
PG
Oscar Robertson
11th & 12th MAN SUBSTITUTES & Coach
C/F
Bob Pettit
C
Coach

 


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