It’s playoff time…Hawks and Lakers at Kiel…March 1964. Again, the other team’s big forward on Pettit…this time the late Rudy Larusso of Los Angeles. Pettit fires off a pass over the head of Ritchie Guerin to an open Zelmo Beatty.
New Year’s Day…1964..in a afternoon game at Kiel Auditorium, Pettit gets a screen from Zelmo and heads around Larusso for a quick bucket….Hey, the guy was great, ya know he scored…In the 60’s NBA it was not uncommon for teams to play each other 12 to 14 times a season, so the Lakers were no strangers to 14th and Market Street!
Hawk fans knew Pettit was worth the price of admission at Kiel, even if it was a whopping $3.75 for a front row seat on Murderer’s Row…you can almost hear Hawks play by play man Jerry Gross…”Pettit down the middle, lays it up and IN. Ahhh, Blue got an opening, drove the lane and put it up over Connie Dierking, and the Hawks now lead by five”
In Bob’s last four years with the Hawks, the rivalry with the Los Angeles Lakers of Elgin Baylor, Jerry West, and Gene Wiley was the number one attraction in the Western Conference. In this game at the LA Sports Arena, Pettit displays his versatility, going to his left, heading for the hoop against Wiley, the Lakers center.
One of the greatest one handed jump shooters in basketball history….from a man 6 foot 9, it was almost impossible to stop. And if he did miss, look out, because he was on those offensive boards for a second or third chance like a true hawk.
See what I mean!!!
The caption says it all
Former Hawk Woody Saulsberry drives around Pettit in one of the final games of the Hawks worst season in St. Louis….this photo in March of 1962 was taken at Kiel as the Hawks lost to the lowly Chicago Packers, a one season NBA expanison team (the Bulls came about four years later). At 29 wins and 51 losses, the 61-62 season was the only really bad year the Hawks had in their 11 year stay. Pettit even coached the last 5 games of the season, finishing with a 3-2 record.
The end of an era…In his final game as a pro, an injured Bob Pettit grabs his last NBA rebound in the Hawks fourth game playoff loss to the Baltimore Bullets at the Civic Center in Baltimore in March of 1965. Blue had announced his retirement in February and the opening round playoff upset was a huge surprise. Check that photo…no way Walt Bellamy gets that one!
One of the few bright spots for Hawk fans in the 1961-62 season was Bob reaching the 15,000 point plateau in a game at the St. Louis Arena….he did it in his 8th season in the pros….this shot is from late February 1962, and an exhausted Pettit had reason to smile.