First and foremost, let me just get ahead of the “haters” here: I am f***ing ATROCIOUS at basketball. I have absolutely zero off-hand skills, I can’t shoot whatsoever, I’m 5-6 (5-7 in basketball shoes), I’m slow as s*** for my size, and my entire high school career I rode the pine for a .500 squad. However, I like to think that my high fives, bench enthusiasm, and positive attitude made up for some of the skills I lacked on the court, but I digress. All of that aside, if I played in the NBA in the 1950’s, I would have been f***ing dirty.
I may be terrible in today’s day and age, but my marginal roundball skills would win me the MVP back then. Can you imagine the expression on their face when they watched me dribble the ball between my legs? Shoot a reverse layup? Or make a shot from more than twelve feet out? They would hang me from the rafters for witchcraft!
“He’s disgracing the game!” “Take that Negro ball back to Brooklyn!” “What do they call that maneuver? A cross…Over?” They would yell from the bleachers.
Honestly though, have you ever watched old basketball tapes? It’s a complete joke. Players take ten seconds to set up their set shot, they only dribble with their dominant hand (literally, they do not EVER use their off hand), no one can dunk, and the best athletes aren’t even allowed to play because they are black.
It’s amazing to me the amount of fans that packed into the gyms back then to watch those games. You can start to get a grasp on the complete lack of entertainment people had back in those days. It was either the Wizard of Oz for the thirtieth time on TV, or you could pay money to watch part-time janitors hoop. You heard that right. Due to the lack of money the NBA paid their players (for good reason), in between quarters their star players were scrubbing toilets.
Still think I am joking? Let’s take a look at the story of “Pitchin'” Paul Arizin, who is widely regarded as a “top 10” player in the 50’s .
“Arizin didn’t make the cut as a high school senior and got discovered by Villanova’s coaching staff playing rec ball while a freshman at Villanova.” (Bleacher Report)
Yes, you read that right. One of the best players of the decade, was cut by his high school team. I know what you are thinking, “Michael Jordan got cut by his varsity team and look at him!” First off, MJ was not cut by his varsity team, he just wasn’t moved up as a sophomore, but that’s a story for another day. Arizin did not make his desegregated varsity team, took two years off (1953 & 54) in his prime to join the marines, and still averaged a cool 23 and 8 over the course of decade in the s*** show that was professional basketball.
Are you s***ing me? “Belt Boy” was giving defenders the blues back then?! GTFO!
I would love to be a fly on the wall inside in an opposing team’s lockeroom after a game against Arizin. “Coach, I can’t stop his two handed jumper! We need to send help when he starts to load up his shot!”
If teams had no answers for “Pitchin'” Paul, trying to stop George “Mr. Basketball”, “The Monster”, ‘The Magnificent” Mikan must have been impossible to stop.
“Leading the Minneapolis Lakers to five championships in six seasons from 1949 through 1954, he became the NBA’s first superstar. One night in the early ’50s, the marquee at Madison Square Garden read simply: “Geo Mikan vs. Knicks.” (NBA.com)
“Everyone wanted to see him,” Lakers teammate Slater Martin once recalled. “When George came to town, it was an event.”
Goggles here is the reason for the “3 second rule” (How embarrassing would it have been to be an opponent of Mikan’s? The only way you could possibly comprehend stopping this guy was by creating a rule?) and the dreaded “Mikan Drill”. Throughout his eight year career, Goggles averaged 28.3 PPG, 13.4 RPG, and if they had recorded blocks, statisticians think he would have averaged over five per game. It’s no surprise Mikan dominated, the guy was 6’10 in a league filled with short, un-athletic, white guys who couldn’t shoot anything but right handed layups.
That’s where I would have shined. Sure, I meet all of the qualifiers mentioned above, but compared to the rest of the league, I would have been Carl f***ing Lewis. Not to mention the unparalleled basketball IQ I would have had over the rest of the league, what would they have done against a 2-3 zone with their lack of size and shooting ability? It would have been deadly.
I’d almost go as far to say that I would have been the best player of the 1960’s as well. Just look at what the Celtics had to trade in order to get the “best player of the decade”, Bill Russell.
Don’t even get me started on Jerry West, I would have sliced and diced his combover-haircut-having-a** with ease. Don’t believe me? Look at Bob Cousy’s “dazzling” dribbling display that beat Jerry West.
By the time my career was over, I would have become the face of the league and the logo… F*** Jerry West.*
*As for those who think “if they grew up in today’s modern era of athletics, they would still be all-stars in today’s game”… Watch that Cousy video and get back to me.
Made it this far? Here are some basketball photos from the 1950’s for you to enjoy.