View Full Version : Bob Pettit's 75th Birthday, 50th anniversary of Hawks' Championship

12-12-2007, 07:54 AM
Nice retrospective:


12-12-2007, 08:33 AM
throaty - Thanks for the link. Petit was just what Auerbach described - the best power forward of his era with career averages of 26 ppg and 16 rpg. He was ahead of his time as a player and had a game that would translate to modern times. The Hawks with Petit, Hagan and Lovelette were great to watch.


12-12-2007, 09:40 AM
There's a Peter Finney column about Pettit in the New Orleans paper today. The principal way he was ahead of his time apparently was in being the first NBA player to work with weights. Went into the NBA at 215 pounds, came out a strong 245. It's amazing to think back to the bias there used to be in most sports against weight training. It was supposed to make you musclebound. The prejudice lasted in baseball well into the '70s, and after Alan Shaw, '69-'73, I'm not sure if any Duke basketball players spent much time in the weight room until well into the K era.

3rd Dukie
12-12-2007, 11:38 AM
Thanks for the post. I was thinking about him last week, wondering if he was still alive. I grew up in ATL and used to get the St. Louis Hawks' games at night over a clear channel. I remember of couple of epic fights with him and Chamberlain. If I recall correctly, Chamberlain once said Petit was the only player he ever feared.

I was in Hog Heaven when they moved to ATL, with Caldwell, Zelmo, Lou, Lenny, Silas, et al. That didn't last all that long, however.

12-12-2007, 11:41 AM
The Hawks in the '50s and early '60s were a great team.
Pettit was named MVP twice (playing roughly in the era of West, the Big O, Russell, Cousy, and Wilt) , 1st team all-NBA 10 times, and second team once.He was in the top 3 MVP votes 5 times. He went to the NBA Finals 4 times, winning once.
He played in perhaps the greatest NBA final (1957), won by the Celtics in the Garden in double overtime in game 7---there were 38 lead changes and 28 ties.It was the 2nd double o.t. of the series.Still, that game failed to ignite popular interest in the NBA that the Dec. 28 ,1958, NFL overtime championship game (Unitas's Baltimore Colts vs. the NY Football Giants) did for pro football.
Pettit, Maravich, and Shaq represent the largest contingent of all-time top 50 NBA players from a single college(LSU).
Ironically,years later Holzman shifted power forward Willis Reed to center with good results.
Given his relentless, clean, understated style, Pettit may somewhat resemble Tim Duncan. What is sad is that there is almost no film footage extant of his NBA play. He was picked as the 11th greatest NBA player of all time in Who's Better Who's Best in Basketball , right behind # 10 Cousy (O'Neal #1,Wilt #2,Jordan #3,Russell #4,Kareem #5 , Bird#6, Magic #7, the Big O #8, Duncan #9) and right ahead of #12 Jerry West and #13 Elgin Baylor .Some consider West his era's best all-around guard(great defense--many times 1st team defense all-NBA, as well as MVP runner-up 4 times , 1st team all-NBA 10 times, and 2nd team 2 times---all without the 3-point basket).
The teams' rosters were fairly stable in those days, resulting in extremely intense playoff series with great teamwork and proud, no-quit players.:D :)

03-31-2008, 08:01 PM
An April 10 event at UM-Saint Louis will honor the 1958 NBA champion Hawks. Nice write-up about Pettit, Bill Russell, and others:


03-31-2008, 08:43 PM
Fans today think that they are seeing the best players of all time -- not so. People like Bob Pettit, Bill Russell, Oscar Robertson, Elgin Baylor and others were absolutely phenomenal. Imagine Jerry West with a three point shot -- phenomenal.

04-01-2008, 09:17 AM
I am not sure the players were better but the game was better in this era. The best players were not being promoted in a "star" system, team ball was respected and successful. Bob Pettit was a great player for that time but I also just as easily remember Slater Martin and Cliff Hagen and their roles on that team. Teams were together longer without free agency and their play showed it.
In what seems to be a parallel, the college game is following a similar path. One and done players are having a significant impact on the College game and in my eyes not a favorable one. Two years in a row we have had 40% of the 1st team All-American team made up of single year players. Coaches are forced to recruit and prepare their teams for a ear at a time. In my preferred world, we need to further separate College Basketball from beeing the minor league of the NBA star system.
I now step down from my box.

04-01-2008, 05:04 PM
Anybody see the footage on the Hawks of the Pettit era in that recent two night documentary on blacks in basketball. The Hawks, the players we are talking about here, Pettit among them, were mean-spirited racists. They had a rookie who came out of a black college who was beyond super great. I mean the footage on him in college was un freakin believeable.

The players went to management after he had played a few games and told management what was what. The kid not only did not play for the Hawks again that season, but no other team would pick him up.

Most stories you hear of that era show that teammates were much more willing to reach beyond racial barriers and stand shoulder to shoulder with black teammates. The Hawks to a man were not. Probably the reason that Auerbach became such a genuis.

Sorry, I loved watching Petitt as a kid. Cannot celebrate anything about the guy, or the people he played with, especially old Cliffie, now; not now, not ever. Not after seeing that documentary I can't.