It’s been 17 years since Penny was supposed to change the game. This wasn’t an evolution, it was a revolution. It was fusion. Magic & Michael, Pippen & Bird. Penny’s game wasn’t going to emulate anyone of them, it was going to fuse the best of all of them. The ultimate point-forward.
It’s been 17 years since Penny Hardaway came into the league and I’m certain Lil’ Penny had a better career.
Sometimes it best to never know what the future holds for knowing what you lost will leave behind scars that never heal. Fans of the NBA were given a glimpse of that future only to have the hands of time quickly shut that door in our face. Penny’s career was only three years long despite having played 14 seasons in the NBA.
Oh, but what a glorious three years those were. The stats, the accolades, the super-stardom; Penny was lighting it up from everywhere. By his third year, Penny had already lived out a full NBA career. Participating in All-Star games, listed on All-NBA teams, 60-win seasons and a trip to the NBA Finals. In his third year he averaged 21.7 ppg, 7.1 apg, 4.3 rpg, 2.0 spg, 51.3% FG%. The advance stats were just as prolific, a Offensive Rating of 122, a Defensive Rating of 107, a TS% of .605 and a eFG% of .549. Only five other players have put up a season like this before their 25th birthday. (Michael Jordan, LeBron James, James Worthy, Amar’e Stoudemire, and Kevin Johnson. Yes, Kevin Johnson).
His game was that of a demigod. His courtvision made you believe that he was omnipresent. His ability to soar made you wonder if his arms were wings. His tremendous dunks rocked arenas like the thunderbolts cast from Zeus himself.
Even the gods aren’t immune to micro-fracture surgery. It was 1997 and Penny was all alone, putting up Superstar numbers but the team wasn’t going anywhere. Shaq had left for the Lakers, Brian Hill had been the victim of a coup de facto and Penny had been the only player left of value on the team when it all came crashing down. Penny’s knee was hurt, it needed surgery and it would go on to need four more.
The next 10 season would be more than forgettable, tainted forever with the selfish stench of Stephon and the incurable disease of being a Knick in the 00’s. Riddled with injuries through the rest of the journey, he averaged 40 games a year and never had the opportunity to establish himself again.
Injuries are part of the game. They are uncontrollable, they are unpredictable and they are usually irreversible. Penny’s injuries killed a promising career before we saw it bloom. But gods don’t die, they always live forever, ingrained into our culture through myths and legends. Penny’s legacy will live forever in the same way. We will always remember the highlights, argue about the “what ifs”, and lets not forget about the shoes. Although his career never had the opportunity to, his shoe franchise became one of the greatest that Nike ever produced.
Although Anfernee’s career was done before his 26th birthday, for the short time we got to enjoy a healthy Hardaway on the court, he was worth every penny.
LJ, for a, while was a beast. The undersized power forward always played big, 20 and 10 on any given night. The overall #1 pick was looking like the franchise player we all hoped he would be until the injuries wore him down.
Imagine a 1992 version of LJ on anyone of those late 90’s Knicks teams. Would he of been the difference maker?
3 days left until the 2010-11 NBA season tips off.
Brought to you by Allen Iverson, the pound-for-pound greatest scorer in NBA history.
A.I. was supposed to be the answer to the question; “Who’s next?”
As Jordan’s career came to a close everyone wondered who was next. It took no more than two crossovers against for us to realize the answer was The Answer. Standing at an overstated 6’ and 165 pounds, the #1 overall pick quickly became everyones favorite player.
Hip-hop was A.I. and A.I. was hip-hop. The tattoos, the cornrows, the wardrobe, and that swagger. No one had swag like Al. It would ooze off of him as he stepped on the court. You could see it and you could feel it. The man knew he was the best player on the court, even when he wasn’t. Always playing with a chip on his shoulder, no one could tell him what to do. That’s what made Allen who we loved and would later on make him who we hate.
In 2001, Iverson was selected to the All-NBA 1st team, he won the All-Star MVP, the NBA MVP, the NBA Scoring Title, and he took the 76ers, a band of defensive role players, to the NBA Finals. It seemed like this was it, A.I. had arrived, beat everyone in everything and was going to walk away a champion. Unfourtunatly, his team ran into the juggernaut that we call the Kobe & Shaq era Lakers. The 6ers had no chance against the Lakers. The Lakers lost one game to Philly (their only playoff loss that year) and took the series 4-1 to secure their second title in as many years. They would go on to win a third title the following year.
For Allen, that was the pinnacle of his career. He would go on to win a few more scoring titles (4 total for his career) countless All-NBA and All-Star teams but he would never return to the finals.
In 2002, a year removed from his MVP season, we were all “talkin’ ‘bout practice.” The rant came after the team lost in the opening round and coach Larry Brown criticized Allen for missing countless practices. Larry Brown would coach A.I. one more year before moving on to the Pistons and winning a title in 2004.
In 2007, the world was shocked. Allen Iverson was traded to the Denver Nuggets. This would team up two of the top scorers in the NBA in Carmelo Anthony and Allen Iverson. Although both maintained healthy scoring averages, things just didn’t work out. In two consecutive years the Nuggets lost in the first round. For Allen, this was merely a pit stop. 3 games into the 2008-09 season, Iverson was dealt again, this time to the Detroit Pistons in exchange for Chauncey Billups.
Billups immediately changed the chemistry of the team, helping them lock up the #2 seed in the west and advance to the Western Conference Finals. Meanwhile, in motor city, the Pistons were struggling. They finished 4 games under .500 and were swept out of the first round.
Through all of this, A.I. went through his own issues with playing times, coming off the bench, injuries, and pseudo-injuries. By the end of the season Allen was seen as the problem with the Pistons and he was blamed for all of Denver’s previous struggles. The next season was nothing but a disaster in Memphis followed by a failed homecoming party in Philly. Questions about his healthy, finances, and personal issues arose. He did nothing to help the situation when he went out to Turkey, seeking a European contract.
We all wanted to see him win, but it never happened and by the end of his career we all wanted him to just retire and save us and himself the pain and agony. It was a disastrous ending to a storied career. Allen captured our hearts as he played through countless injuries. In the end A.I. had left us with more questions than answers and that’s something none of us ever asked for.
Something crazy must have happened this off-season. Something crazy enough to make the world forget about the upstart Atlanta Hawks. J-Smoove wants to remind you, once again.
Thanks to South Beach Super-friends most people have forgotten that Smith and the Hawks won 53 games last year, the most since Dikembe sported the red and yellow. They also finished 3rd out East, beating out the Boston Celtics and securing home court in the first round.
Last year Smith displayed what was arguably the best season of his short NBA career, putting up career numbers in feild goal percentage (50.5%), rebounds (8.7 rpg), assists (4.2 apg) and steals (1.6 spg). Consequently, the Hawks had their best season in over a decade. Since Smith’s arival, the Hawks have improved their record year after year.
Although Smith’s scoring averages weren’t drastically improved (15.7 ppg versus 15.6 the year before) he had become a smarter and more efficient player. His Achilles’ heel has always been his decision making, mainly shooting long range jumpers that he has no business shooting. For his career, he is a 26.6% 3-point shooter yet he has some how managed to launch 478 3’s in his 6 season. Last year he finally kicked the bad habit, sort of. He only put up 23 bone headed 3-pointers, down from 110 total the year before. Thus vastly boosting his FG%, TS% and eFG%.
His improved offense was not the headline story for Smith last year, it was his defense. He finished the season 3rd in blocks, was voted onto the All-Defensive 2nd team and racked up enough Defensive Player of the Year votes to finish second behind two-time winner Dwight Howard.
When it comes to Josh Smith, I’m not sure I see championship pedigree, and I don’t care. He is the next Human Highlight Film. his scoring prowess doesn’t compare to Dominique’s but the dunks are on par. Smith, like ‘Nique is a former Slam Dunk Champion and is blessed with both size and power to go along with superb agility. That makes for a deadly combination and for some youtube worthy dunks.
With the superpowers in South Beach, Orlando and Beantown I don’t expect much out of the Hawks this year, especially since Joe Johnson won the lottery and will probably pull an Allan Huston. The Hawks might even get swept out the playoffs for the third consecutive season. I do, however, expect Josh Smith to provide us with a few highlights, and that alone is worth the price of admission.
Dr. J was the original funkadelic. He didn’t just play basketball, he performed a high flying trapeze act on a nightly basis. It’s hard to believe but Erving didn’t invent the dunk, he nearly perfected the art form. Gliding from hardwood to hoop, every drive was sure to end in a rim rocking dunk or an electrifying highlight.
The doc looked surreal soaring through the skies of NBA and ABA arenas everywhere. His 6’6” frame, elongated by those tiny shorts, giant afro, and those massive hands. Those hands, they were the secret weapon. Clenching the ball like a lions jaw clenches its prey, guiding the ball in whatever direction he wanted. Those hands made all those high flying dunks possible. They gave him the gift of the reverse lay-ups from behind the back board. They gave him the ability to drop 30 points a night without a reliable jumper.
Julius first broke onto the seen not in the NBA but making hay in the ABA. In five years he racked up 11,662 points, 2 championships and 3 MVPs. The NBA and ABA merged and Philidunkia was his new home. Although Julius found himself playing for a title in his first year, his individual stats took some time to adjust to the subtle differences of the NBA. Within a few years, his scoring was back up in the stratosphere and he had played in three different NBA Finals, losing all three (‘76, ‘79, ‘81). Finally in 1983 the addition of Moses Malone put the 6ers over the top, sweeping the Lakers in four. Erving would go on to score 18,364 points in the NBA, add a league MVP to his hardware collection and give us one of the most underrated rivalries in NBA history; Bird vs. Dr J (NO, not the video game).
Dr. J was from the future, sent back to save basketball. During an era where two leagues fought for dominance, it was Julius Erving that dominated all, on or off the court. Dr J was one of the first pro-basketball players to endorse products and star in movies. In the words of his coach, Billy Cunningham,
In most ways, Dr. J was ahead of his time. Stuck playing in the 70’s and 80’s with the game and athleticism of those from the 90’s and 00’s. In today’s NBA, Julius would headline Sport Center’s Top 10 on a nightly basis. His dunks would have 10 million views. His afro would inspire an entire generation of kids to boycott barbershops.
Through the years he gave a lot to NBA fans. He gave the never-happy fans of Philadelphia something to cheer about. He gave generations of future NBAers highlights like ”Rock the Baby” & “The Baseline Move”. He helped start the trend of high dollar off-court endorsements. And, if nothing else, at least he gave us another famous “Doc”.
Rock the Baby on Cooper
The Baseline Move
“Here I was, trying to win a championship, and my mouth just dropped open. He actually did that! I thought, ‘What should we do? Should we take the ball out, or should we give him the ball back and ask him to do it again?’ It’s still the greatest move I’ve ever seen in a basketball game, the all-time greatest.” – Magic Johnson on the Baseline Move.
Every time I watch Brandon Roy play basketball I can’t help but feel pure joy. His jumper is liquid, his dribble drives are fierce, his leadership is presidential, his clutch-ness is legendary. When Roy comes to play basketball, he comes to play basketball, all bulls#!t aside. He doesn’t step on the hardwood to land in Hollywood. He doesn’t lace ‘em up just to ink another endorsement deal. He doesn’t play in order to set records. He wants nothing more but to win simply just to win. As hard as that is to believe in today’s world of NBAers-turned-super-celebs, it is the truth. It’s the reason I chose Brandon over fellow #7, two-time NBA champ, Lamar Odom (a.k.a. Klodom.) Brandon Roy, simply put, is pure basketball.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some flaws to his game but the same can be said about any of the all-time greats. This isn’t about what skills one possess but what one chooses to do with those skills. Brandon is a hybrid, his DNA doesn’t read pure shooting guard. He can handle the rock which helps him shred through defenses like a Formula-1 car ripping through a slalom course. His court vision is on par with advanced military radar. All of this comes through stints of playing point guard in college. But don’t label Brandon a slasher. His stroke is elegant and fluid, his range has no limits.
Roy suffered an injury last year and he fought his way back to play in the opening round of the playoffs just 8 days after undergoing knee surgery. From the outside, his return looked pointless and borderline idiotic. But when he stood up and walked to the scorers table and checked into the game, the Rose Garden was engulfed with cheers of pure joy. The appreciation was palpable and atmosphere had become electrifying. Brandon has that effect on people.
There is only one thing that taints the pureness of Brandon’s story. Like a Rorschach test, when ever I see Brandon Roy I think of the Blazers and when I think of the Blazers I think of Kevin Durant. Picture a world in which the Blazers hadn’t dropped the ball on KD. Picture the pureness of Roy paired with the pureness of Durant. For fans of the game, seeing that duo play would be nothing short of pure joy.
8 days left until the 2010-11 NBA season tips off.
Brought to you by Kobe Bryant, the Ocho.
I could have represented Mamba as #24, but I’m not a fan of #24 Kobe, he is far to likable. He is perfected and well spoken, his mannerism are elegant and his game is beautiful. The #24 edition of Kobe Bryant is someone I would have cheered for my entire life.
#8 was easy to hate. He destroyed a dynasty, he cheated on his wife, he was selfish and polarizing. He didn’t like his teammates or the situation he was in and it showed. Something dark and angry grew inside of him and he would soon release it on the NBA.
Ever since he made the jersey switch, he has been painted as a student of the game more than a class bully. He is a now a proven leader not a kid screaming for power. He is a two time champion as Batman and those two far outweigh the 3 he won playing as Robin. When #24 plays, the entire world watches.
Don’t get me wrong, the world was watching #8 play, too. We watch the new Kobe play because he paints a beautiful painting of game of basketball. We watched the old Kobe just to see what he was going to do next. It was like watching a man rob banks with a bazooka, it was violent, it was thrilling, and it was bound to leave maximum carnage. Especially in 2005 when the Mamba took out all of his frustrations on the 29 other teams littered across the NBA. Game after game, shot after shot, he made players pay for even attempting to cover him. Face guards, double teams, triple teams, none of it mattered, and trust me, he saw a lot of those double and triple teams. What else did you expect when you’re playing along side NBA legends like Smush Parker and Kwame Brown. As Bill Simmons once put it,
“Not only is Mamba hogging the ball to a historic degree, just about everyone else on the Lakers seems OK with it. It’s their only chance to win.“
Through Kobe’s red hot December and January, in which he lit it up for 40 or more in 11 of 28 games all eyes were on Kobe. On January 22nd the world stopped. #8 went off for 81. Iin his 666th career game, Kobe Bean Bryant single handedly annihilated an NBA team.
During the 2005-06 season, his last in a #8 uniform, we saw kobe drop 40+ 27 times, 50+ 6 times, outscore the Dallas Mavericks through three quarters (62 to 61) and destroy our entire concept of basketball when he went for 81.
Freedarko once called Rondo “otherworldly and borderline autistic alien-dinosaur” and he was spot on. Rondo is not from this planet. He doesn’t understand our human concepts of basketball. He was delivered to this world with his own blueprint to success and he is unwilling to compromise on how that success is achieved. And for that reason alone we must love him.
Rajon Rondo or, as our boy Neal calls him, Rajondo swears he never watched the NBA until 2006. That might be deterring on the surface however I find it a beautiful characteristic of Rondo’s game. He was never tainted. He was never given a mold to try to fit into. Never a shadow to walk under. Never a player’s sytle to try and emulate. This is what makes Rajon an alien. He plays the game the way he wants to.
Rondo won an NBA title in as a baby and was the most suspect of the 5 starters on that Boston Celtics team, with good reason. He has quickly come into his own since and last year was arguably the best player on a team that was 7 minutes away from winning an NBA championship. This summer Rondo was having a great run with Team USA when out of no where he was benched then quit the team as speculation where swirling about him getting cut. His reasons at the time where “family issues” but his real reasons were that he wanted to work on his game and win another title.
It’s no secret that ever amazing attribute of his game cannot hide the fact that he is a terrible shooter. It actually amazing that a guard can average near a triple double during a playoff series while also being such a bad shooter.
How bad? Dispite averaging 50.8% from the field (54% TS%, 51.7% eFG%) Rondo shot a putrid 21.3% from 3 and a disgusting 62.1% on free throws. According to 82games.com 48% of Rondo shot selection were jump shots, of which he had an eFG% of 34.8%.
You would think someone this motivated and determined to improve and win would fix the one aspect of his game that is an anchor for his career. Nope. When Russ Bengtson, of twitter fame, caught up with Rondo this summer and spoke to him about his suspect jumper and what he did to improve it over the off-season. Here is how the convo went:
That’s a pretty bold proclamation to make about a man that loves to wear dresses. Especially considering that ‘The Worm’ is only #21 on the NBA’s all-time career rebounds list with 11,954 total boards (However Dennis does rank #4 all-time in O-Reb and #16 in D-Reb). Dennis enjoyed a good run from 1991 through 1998 leading the NBA in rebounds per game. He collected an average of 16.4 total rebounds a game, peaking at 18.7/per game and never averaging below 15 per game during that span. Dennis Rodman collected 23.4% of all available rebounds every time he was on the court good for #1 all time. That number is staggering when compared to other all-time rebounders. Dwight (#3 all time) rebounds at a rate of 20.75%, Ben Wallace is #7 at 19.6%, and Sir Charles is #13 with 18.2%. It’s important to note that for the majority of Wilt and Bill’s careers these advanced stats aren’t available.
When you consider the fact that Wilt Chamberlain finished with 23,924 career rebounds or that bill Russell averaged 9 more rebounds per game, it gets difficult to crown Rodman the G.O.A.T. of the Glass. But he was and this is why. Dennis Rodman, at 6’7”, 210 pounds, was a tiny man in comparison to what he accomplished. Unlike Russell and Wilt, who were giants during their time, rodman played in the era of the Big Man and some of the best rebounders the game has ever seen (Hakeem, Robinson, Shaq, Mourning, Ewing). Dennis still averaged more rebounds than all of them. Phil jackson, who coached both Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, once said that Dennis was the greatest athlete he had ever coached.
Then there are the advanced stats. Russell’s era featured higher paced games with terrible shooting percentages which created many more rebounds for everyone to collect. Rodman had to endure a much slower pace with more efficient shooters.
As Chris Ballard explains in his book, “The Art of a Beautiful Game”, rebounders of the modern era have it tough. Starting with the advent of the 3-point line, the game changed for all rebounders. Longer shots made for longer rebounds, better shooters made for less rebounds, and slower pace made for less rebound opportunities. Chris goes on to say that averaging 20 rebounds a game with todays rules and players is near impossible.
Dennis was a student of the game and a scholar of rebounding. He would study game tape of players to see what their shooting tendencies were. Did they like to shoot long? Did they have a soft touch? Did they miss right or left? Dennis knew that when Michael Jordan missed, he would miss right and he always tried to muscle his way to the right spot to collect the board. He knew that Steve Kerr shot the ball, it was going to be a short rebound because of Kerr’s super soft shooting touch.
The accolades through out his career mimic some of the greatest the game has ever seen: 2 time Defensive Player of the Year, 7 time All-Defensive 1st Team, 1 time All-Defensive 2nd team, 2 time All-NBA 3rd team, 5 time NBA Champion (2x with the Detroit Pistons and 3x with the Chicago Bulls). The worm even wiggled his way into the MVP discussion 4 times, finishing in the top 15 in voting.
Dennis has been a fan favorite throughout his career despite all his offensive shortcomings. Whether it was the cross-dressing, the rainbow hair colors, the tattoos, the hard nose hustle plays, or the technical fouls, Rodman never seemed to stop entertaining. In fact Dennis never stopped doing anything. During timeouts or when he subbed out he would hop on the stationary bike to stay warm, during games he would relentlessly pursue the basketball and after games he would party like a British rock star. Sure there were the bad moments; the drugs, the ejections and the infamous kick. No matter how much of a bad boy the worm was he always remained beloved by NBA aficionados because of how much Dennis loved the game.
Fun Fact #1 he once swore that if he ever collected 50 rebounds in a single game, he would strip naked and run around the court. His career single game high is 34.
Fun Fact #2: Dennis wore numbers 10, 91, and 73 all of which total the number 10 this is why he was chosen for the #10 spot on our countdown.
Through all of the ups and downs in his career one single tragedy stands out in my mind: Dennis Rodman is not yet a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame.
11 days left until the 2010-11 NBA season tips off.
Brought to you by Arvydas Sabonis, the greatest European player ever, probably.
What if I told you that Arvydas Sabonis was the greatest European player, ever? Would you believe me or would you delete this blog from your bookmarks? It was very easy to toss that out there 5 years ago without getting laughed at. All we had to compare him with was Vlade, Drazen and the youngins. Dirk had not yet been named an MVP, Drazen had passed before he peaked, Vlade was average, at best and Pau was stuck in his own personal hell. At the time, Sabonis was it by default because in reality there was no real competition. Today, I’m not to sure we can give Sabonis that title. After all, what did he accomplish in the NBA? He never averaged better than 16 points and 10 rebounds. He was the leader of some great Trailblazers teams during the late 90’s and early 00’s, yet they always seemed to find a way to lose to the Lakers (video evidence).
Over the last half a decade Dirk and Pau have leap frogged the Arvydas Sabonis that we all knew and loved. Dirk went on to claim an MVP and sits atop the all-time European scoring leaders in NBA history. Pau has won back to back NBA championships amidst three straight finals appearances and he managed to squeeze in a couple of pieces of gold and hardware during that run.
But that’s the problem, Dirk and Pau are better than the Arvydas we all saw in the NBA. Much better. But the real Arvydas never played in the NBA. The 7’3” big man from Kaunas, Lithuania until he was 31-years old, had suffered a devastating Achilles’ tendon injury, his knees were shot and his body had ballooned a good 30 to 40 pounds. Even at his advanced age and stature, as a rookie in 1995 he was selected to the All-Rookie first team and was the runner-up in both Rookie of the Year and 6th Man of the Year voting.
But those achievement don’t compare to the honors he hoarded in Europe: 6x European Player of the year, 2x Mr. Europa Player of the Year, 1985 European Championship MVP, 2x Spanish Finals MVP, 2x Spanish League MVP, 1995 Euroleague Final Four MVP and Gold Medals in the Olympics, World Championships, and European Championships playing for the USSR. Arvydas was also voted as one of the Top 35 European Players of all-time and in 2010 was inducted into the FIBA Hall of Fame. Arvydas had the inside scoring ability of Pau Gasol to go along with the shooter’s touch that Dirk has. His passing? Oh my, his passing would put Vlade to shame. All of this rolled up into a high-flying slim 7’3” body. It’s easy to see why the European version of Sabonis was unstoppable. just ask the 1986 USA Olympic team.
Knowing all of this, brings up the obvious question of “what if”. What if Sabonis had played in the NBA in 1986 (the year he was actually drafted). How good would that Blazers team be? We are talking about a team that went to the Finals in 1989 and in 1991. What if…
12 days left until the 2010-11 NBA season tips off.
Brought to you by John Stockton, the purest point guard to ever play the game.
Stockton, like his other half, was Mr. Consistent. Game in and game out, season in and season out, you knew what you were getting. Stockton ran Jerry Sloan’s offense with perfection, pick’n’rolling his way to a few finals appearances, the hall of fame and atop a few NBA leader boards.
After 19 seasons and 1,504 games (#3 all-time) John Stockton retired at the ripe old age of 40. Throughout his illustrious career, Stock dished out 15,806 assists (nearly 5,000 more than the second best). John was also the NBA’s most prolific crook, nabbing himself 3,265 career steals, both of which are NBA records.
But the thing we remember best about his career are his trademark shorts. As the game progressed and Jordan-era ushered in the love affair of Hip-hop & basketball to give us their offspring, baggy shorts, John never followed suit, sticking with a smedium fit till the end.
The 1961-62 season is one of the wildest years in NBA history. Six players averaged 30 points or better per game. Five players averaged better than 15 rebounds per game. To put that in contrast, during the 2009-10 NBA season, only one person (Kevin Durant) averaged better than 30 points and no one grabbed more than 13 rebounds per game.
1961 was such a bizarro year that Elgin Baylor averaged 38 points, 18 rebounds, and 4 assists and came in 4th in MVP voting. If he pulled of that feat today, the media might crown him the greatest player, ever. Baylor’s teammate, Jerry West, dropped 30 ppg himself. Then there is Oscar’s triple doubles.
With all of these monster stat lines it’s hard to believe that anyone really stood out, but one if them did. Wilt averaged a mind blowing 50.4 points, 25.7 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game including the 100 point game. They didn’t keep track of blocks or steals back then but one can only guess that the most dominant man on the hardwood racked up his fair share of defensive stats also. The amazing thing about this is that rebounding total was Wilt’s third best rebounding season.
It’s hard to fathom, but Chamberlain finished 2nd in MVP voting that year to his arch rival, Bill Russell.
A lot of people wonder if Wilt could be as dominant playing in today’s NBA. I’m not really sure if I can answer that question. I do know that he moved really well for a 7-footer, he played in an era where the best shoe available was a Chuck Taylor and they played with solid mount rims.
30.8 points, 11.4 assists, 12.5 rebounds per game. There has been so much talk about LeBron possibly doing something close to this with the Heat. I say it’s improbably for a couple of reasons.
1.) Pace - Teams used to play at such a fast pace back then. This created more possession per game which in turn lead to more points, rebounds, and assists. The NBA is a much slower place today. In 2009-10 teams averaged 100.4 points per game on 46.7% shooting. The efficiency has gone up as the scoring and pace have come way down. This creates fewer opportunities to grab rebounds, hand off assists and score.
2.) Bad Shooting - In 1961-62, the year The Big O averaged a triple-double, teams scored 118 points per game on average and a pathetic 42.6% shooting. Although Oscar was an efficient scorer (47.8% FG%, 55.4% TS%) the rest of the NBA bricked a ton of shots. Double digit rebounds were available for anyone willing to jump. There is a reason Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain averaged over 20 rebounds a game and smaller guard/forwards like Robertson and Baylor were grabbing 12 and 18 rebounds a game.
it’s pretty remarkable that a man averaged a triple double for an entire season, however I find it more remarkable that the Big O didn’t even win the NBA MVP that year. Overall the 1961-62 season was flat out prolific in terms of individual stats and tomorrow you will find out why.