Bob Pettit hits the lane over New York’s Phil Jordan (who later would become a teammate) for two of his 21 points in the Hawks 128-111 win over the Knicks in this early Febuary 1961 NBA game at the Garden. What a hotbed for basketball in the 50’s and 60’s!! Madison Square Garden hosted NBA doubleheaders about eight times per season….the National Invitational Tournament in March (bigger then than the NCAA) and of course, the Knicks during the regular season….but never an NBA Playoff game….the Knicks were doormats year after year, but, hey…to play in the Garden!!
Bill Russell of the Celtics blocks a shot by the Hawk’s Shellie McMillon in the second quarter of this January 2nd, 1962 contest at New York’s Madison Square Garden….the Celtics went on to rout the Hawks 136-99……Russell finished with 19 points…McMillion hit for 10…Bob Pettit led all scorers with 36…
As the 1964-65 NBA season approached, Dell Sports magazine previewed the Hawks and raised question as to the staying power of Bob Pettit, Cliff Hagan, and Ritchie Guerin, all of whom were over the age of 30. Not to worry, as the Hawks finished second in the Western Division with a respectable record of 45-35, but were upset in the first round of the playoffs by the Baltimore Bullets. Pettit, in his final year, was beset with injuries, played in only 50 games, yet averaged 22.5ppg….Hagan averaged 13 and Ritchie Guerin hit for 14 per game and was named player coach midway through the season. Hagan had another year left in him…Guerin hung on for three more before turning to coaching full time….who’s too old?
The great Packer coach Vince Lombardi was asked once by one of his players the question “Coach, what’s tackling?” Lombardi stared for a second then said “Son, if a man has robbed your house and is running down the street with everything you own…you’re not gonna let him get away….THAT’S tackling!!’ No one did it better than Number 8 of the St. Louis Football Cardinals…Larry Wilson, who lays a hit here on Larry Brown of the Washington Redskins…circa 1970.
Cardinal’s Hall of Fame player Larry Wilson as a crew cut rookie in 1960 (top, feft) and later in 1972…in the middle photo, the famous shot of him playing with casts on both broken hands against the Pittsburg Steelers in 1965 (he intercepted a pass) and below celebrating in the Card’s locker room after the team’s surprising 38-0 victory in Dallas in the infamous MNF game played November 16th, 1970.
Here’s the Gameday Pro program from Larry Wilson’s final game as a St. Louis Football Cardinal….December 17, 1972. Wilson retired after 12 star-studded seasons and 5 years later was voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He went out a winner at Busch Stadium that day as the Cardinals defeated the Philadelphia Eagles 24-23 in front of 35,000 fans.
The Big Red’s 1972 roster. While all certainly earned their spot on the team and in the NFL, you see certain names and think “yeah, absolutely…I remember…Hall of Famer…legend…star” then others jump out and you scratch your head and wonder “who dat??”
Gary Phillips of the San Francisco Warriors looks like he’s about to volley one over the net provided by Wilt Chamberlain and the Hawk’s Bob Pettit in this game at Kiel from October of 1963. Phillips actually hit for two of his 10 points that night in a 99-95 Warrior win. Pettit led all scorers with 24 points. Wilt was held to 22.
Green Bay halfback and heartthrob Paul Hornung made only one stop to Busch Stadium (1963) but football fans in the Gateway City were well aware of the diverse talents of this Hall of Fame player. He could run, pass, kick, return kicks, and catch the ball out of the backfield. His 176 points in 1960 is a single season scoring record that may never be broken. And Hornung served his teammates in another area as well…Fuzzy Thurston, Packer Guard, said it best..”He keeps the autograph hounds away..because when you’re walking with Paul and they stop you, they sure as hell ain’t gonna ask for YOUR autograph!”
After brief stints with the Saints and Chiefs, Jim Otis found himself on waivers and in 1973 the Cardinals picked him up for the price of $100 and never regretted it. Not big, not fast, but boy could he get the job done! In 1975, Jim banged his way to 1,076 yards, and led the NFC in rushing. With this one yard plunge against the Giants, Otis not only scores but he also breaks the Cardinal’s career rushing record of 3,068 yards held by Johnny Roland. When you slam past Ernie Jones, Harry Carson and George Martin…you’re packin’ a whallop!!