Obit of the Day: NCAA, Olympic, and NBA Star Bob Boozer
Bob Boozer was the first overall pick in the 1959 NBA Draft by the Cincinnati Royals*. But Boozer asked to wait a year to join his new team, in order that he could maintain his amateur status and qualify for the 1960 Olympics. (He would play the 1959-1960 season for the AAU Peoria Caterpillars.)
Good choice. The 1960 men’s basketball team is considered the second best Olympic basketball team of all time after the original “Dream Team” which would dominate the 1992 Olympics. The 1960 team, composed entirely of amateurs, won every game they played by an average of 42 points. Of the twelve men on the roster, ten (including Mr. Boozer) would play in the NBA and four would be elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame (Oscar Robertson, Jerry Lucas, Jerry West, and Walt Bellamy). The entire 1960 Olympic team was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010 - along with the 1992 Dream Team.
After winning the gold medal, Boozer returned to the Royals - along with Oscar Robertson who was the number one overall pick in the draft in 1960 - and would begin an 11-year professional career. Boozer would play three full seasons with the Royals before being traded to the New York Knicks in the middle of his fourth. After a season-and-a-half with the Knicks, followed by one with the Lakers, Boozer was selected by the NBA’s newest team, the Chicago Bulls, in the expansion draft following the 1965-1966 season.
Boozer would make his only All-Star appearance with Chicago during the first season, and would play one more with the Bulls before being traded to the Seattle Supersonics. After one year in the Northwest, Boozer would find himself and hour-and-a-half north of Chicago playing with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and the Milwaukee Bucks. The Bucks would win that year’s NBA Championship and Boozer would retire, with a ring on his finger.
Bob Boozer, who also led the Kansas State Wildcats to the 1958 Final Four and a number one ranking in 1959, died at the age of 75.
(Through no fault of his own, Bob Boozer may be part of some of the worst sports card sets in history. All images are courtesy of vintagecardprices.com. Left, 1961 Fleer; Center, 1969 Topps; Right, 1971 Topps )
* The Royals are one of the NBA’s greatest wanderers having started in Rochester, heading to Cincinnati, then Omaha, Kansas City, and eventually finding themselves in Sacramento as the Kings.