Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Top 10 NBA Players: #10, Oscar Robertson

In at #10 on my NBA Top 10 Players countdown is "The Big O", Oscar Robertson.

6 ft 5, Robertson played as a guard for the Cincinnati Royals (now in Sacramento) and most famously led the Milwaukee Bucks their only NBA Championship. Oscar was one of the leading figures in the early NBA alongside Wilt Chamberlain. He holds the distinct honor of being the only NBA player to ever average more than 10 points, assists and rebounds for an entire season.

Robertson played at the University of Cincinnati, entering himself into the 1960 NBA Draft. The Cincinnati Royals picked him as a 'territorial' pick to generate more local fan support for the promising young star. Robertson repaid their faith, returning with season averages of 30.5 points, 10.1 rebounds and 9.7 assists per game, just 0.3 off a triple-double average for the year.

In 1961-62, Oscar made it over that small hump and into the history books when he averaged 30.8 points, 12.5 rebounds and 11.4 assists per game. An incredible feat that had many heralding him as the game's best-ever talent. The Royals never did win an NBA Championship, mostly thanks to the Boston Celtics team led by Bill Russell which simply dominated the entire decade.

Robertson during his time with the Bucks

After a decade with his hometown Royals, Oscar was unceremoniously dumped off to the Milwaukee Bucks before the 1970-71 season as head coach Bob Cousy was apparently jealous of Robertson's status in Cincinnati. This turned out to be the turning point in Roberston's NBA career. After being stuck with an under-performing team, he was paired with Lew Alcindor, who would soon change his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and score the most points in league history. The pair blew the league away, coming up with a 66-16 record in their first season together which included a 20-win streak. They continued their incredible domination into the Playoffs: they progressed to the Finals and routed the Baltimore Bullets 4-0 to capture the team's first (and only) Championship.

The Bucks returned to the Finals in 1974, where ultimately, Robertson and Kareem were beaten in an epic 7-game series with the Boston Celtics. Robertson retired after the season ended as his story was complete, while the years of Abdul-Jabbar's stardom were just beginning.

As a mark of his all-round greatness, Oscar Robertson recorded 181 triple-double games in his career. To put that alongside the totals of other all-time greats, Magic Johnson is a distant second with 138.Wilt Chamberlain had just 78 and Michael Jordan, 28 .

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