From The Couch - Bob Boozer


Looking back on the career of Bob Boozer, his accomplishments show that you could make a strong argument that he was the best K-State basketball of all time.  Let's take a closer look at the life and times of Bob Boozer...

"A two-time consensus first-team All-American at Kansas State, Bob Boozer averaged a double-double in his 77-game career with 21.9 points and 10.7 rebounds from 1956-1959. He averaged 25.6 points as a senior, leading the Wildcats to an undefeated Big Eight record and the final No. 1 ranking in the AP poll"...College Basketball Hall of Fame

JM:  Boozer's 25.6 points per game in the 1958-59 season was a K-State record until it was broken by Michael Beasley in 2007-08 when he averaged 26.2 points per game.

The versatile 6’ 8” forward was selected No. 1 overall by the Cincinnati Royals, but he postponed his NBA career for one year so that he could compete in and win gold in the 1960 Summer Olympics. Boozer would go on to be an NBA champion with the Milwaukee Bucks before retiring from a long, successful career."..College Basketball Hall of Fame

JM:  What sticks out to me here is Boozer postponed his NBA career for a year so he could be a member of the 1960 USA Olympic basketball team.  Granted, the NBA didn't pay a lot back then, but it was still a big decision to give up making money and instead represent your county in the Olympics.  That was a bigger deal back then than playing in the NBA.

"A two-time consensus basketball All-American at Kansas State University, Bob Boozer graduated as the school's all-time scoring leader, was the first player from K-State to play for the United States Olympic basketball team, and was the first player selected in the 1959 National Basketball Association draft."...Kansas Sports Hall of Fame

JM:  Boozer joined Howie Shannon (in 1949) as the only two K-State basketball players to be taken number one overall in the NBA draft.

"During his three years at Kansas State, the Wildcats won 62 of 77 games, two conference titles, were the consensus number-one ranked team in the country in 1958-59, and advanced to the Final Four of the NCAA tournament. He was a key member of the legendary 1960 Olympic gold medal basketball team which later became the first team to be inducted into the Olympic Hall of Fame. He was a key member of the legendary 1960 Olympic gold medal basketball team which later became the first team to be inducted into the Olympic Hall of Fame"...Kansas Sports Hall of Fame

JM:  Boozer is a member of the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame, the College Basketball Hall of Fame, the Olympic Hall of Fame, and the NBA Hall of Fame as a member of the 1960 Olympic Team.  That's quite the resume!

"Boozer and his teammates on the Olympic team were inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010. The squad won eight games by an average of 42.4 points, and 10 members played in the N.B.A."...Associated Press, May 21, 2012

JM:  This Olympic basketball team might be considered the first "Dream Team."  Boozer's teammates included Jerry Lucas, Oscar Robertson and Jerry West.

"He made his only All-Star appearance in 1968 while with the Bulls. He played with Robertson and Lew Alcindor (who later took the name Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) while winning the 1971 title with the Bucks."...Associated Press, May 21, 2012

JM:  Those 1971 Bucks must have been fun to watch.

"In a historic series, The World-Herald selected Nebraska's Top 100 athletes. The Top 100, selected in 2005, came from a pool of more than 450 names from the ranks of high school, college, amateur and professional sports from the past 130 years."...Omaha World-Herald, 2005

JM:  Boozer, a native of Omaha, was ranked the number four Nebraska athlete of all time, behind Bob Gibson, Gale Sayers and Grover Cleveland Alexander.  You can view the complete list here.

"Boozer is a part of what I consider to be the Chicago Bulls original “Three Alphas”. In the inaugural season of Bulls basketball in 1966–67, Boozer joined a team that already featured all-star Guy Rodgers and young stud Jerry Sloan, who became an all-star that year. Boozer proceeded the aforementioned players in becoming the third all-star in Chicago’s brief (at the time) NBA history."...Chicago Bulls Confidential

JM:  Boozer was drafted by the Bulls in the NBA expansion draft in 1966.

"That second season with Chicago was the only all-star selection Boozer received in his career. That season he put up 21.5 points and 9.8 rebounds per game as helped lead the Bulls to back-to-back playoff appearances in their first two seasons of existence."...Chicago Bulls Confidential

JM:  I'm not sure how the expansion draft worked back then, but the Bulls were able to build a team that made the playoffs in the first two years of existence with Boozer leading the way.

"The big thing to keep in mind is that Boozer was putting up numbers like this (mostly) during a time when the NBA was only 10 teams deep. That resulted in the talent being spread out less, so Boozer was going against future Hall of Famers almost every night."...Chicago Bulls Confidential

JM:  10 teams in the NBA back then.  That means only the top 100 or so basketball players in the country made the league.  Good company to be in.

"With the money they're passing out today, it would have been a very difficult decision. But at the time, the No. 1 draft choice was only getting $15,000 or $16,000, and for me, the possibility of making an Olympic team was a single chance of a lifetime to fulfill a dream."...Bob Boozer, August 13, 2010, K-State.edu.

JM:  Nowadays a player wouldn't have to make this kind of decision since professional players are allowed in the Olympics.  It was still a pretty big decision to make.  Boozer played a year of AAU basketball prior to joining the Olympic team.

Finding video highlights of Bob Boozer is very difficult.  I found this video on YouTube that has a couple highlights in it.  Unfortunately, that's all I could find.

I also found a Milwaukee Bucks fan blog called "The Bob Boozer Jinx."  The premise is that the Bucks have been jinxed as a franchise ever since Bob Boozer left the Bucks in 1971.

Hope you enjoyed learning a little more about K-State great Bob Boozer.  I sure did.

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