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Monday, February 06, 2006

Bob McAdoo: The Numbers Don't Lie

Bob McAdoo won three scoring titles and one MVP in the mid 1970s. He became the youngest player to score 10,000 points, a record that stood for over 20 years until Kobe Bryant broke it during the 2002-03 season. By the end of McAdoo's sixth season he had the third highest regular season scoring average and second highest playoff scoring average in NBA history. McAdoo was a key contributor to the Showtime Lakers teams that made four straight Finals appearances and won two titles between 1982 and 1985; Coach Pat Riley has flatly stated that the Lakers would not have won those championships without McAdoo's clutch scoring, rebounding and shot blocking. McAdoo is a Hall of Famer but he was not included on the NBA's 50 Greatest Players List that was selected in 1996. He is the only MVP winner who did not make the cut. Check out my HoopsHype article for more information about McAdoo's tremendous career:


Here is some bonus McAdoo material that is not included in the article:

Asked which current player is most similar to him, McAdoo says, “When I see Nowitzki, he reminds me of me. He’s so tall that he can get off a shot any time he wants. His range is deeper than mine; I would go out to 20 feet. He just stands behind the three point line on a regular basis and his range is amazing for a guy that size. It just seems like he gets off a good shot any time he wants. Nobody can guard him.”

Pacers CEO/President Donnie Walsh says of McAdoo, “He was toward the end of his career when I got into the league. He was a great scorer and he could block shots. He was probably the first combination of that—he could shoot the ball great and was a great jumper and rebounder and shot blocker. So, he was what you call a stat-filler—he filled up the whole stat sheet.”

Walsh disagrees with the Nowitzki comparison, citing McAdoo’s superior all around game: “Nowitzki to me is more of a perimeter player.” He actually sees some similarities between Pacers star Jermaine O’Neal and McAdoo: “I mean, he (O'Neal) can shoot the ball—he can do a lot of things--he can rebound and he’s a shot blocker. But McAdoo was a better scorer.” Walsh adds that McAdoo had greater range on his shot than O’Neal.

McAdoo played for two of the game’s most prominent coaches, Dean Smith and Pat Riley. He notes, “They are similar in that they believe in working to get to where you want to go. They know that there is no perfection in basketball; there is no perfection in anything. You are going to see missed free throws and turnovers but you want to get to the point that you are the best that you can be so that you eliminate some of those things. The work gives you confidence a lot of times. That’s the similarity that I see.”

I asked McAdoo, “Would you agree that a hallmark of great coaches is that the emphasis is on preparation, so that by the time you get to the court you already know what you need to do to win the game? People talk about coaching in game—and that might happen in special situations—but a lot of the coaching is the practice and the preparation and getting people ready to perform as opposed to trying to micromanage every little thing during the game.”

He replied, “Exactly. Exactly. You said it. You’re right. It’s about preparation and that’s what those two guys are about. Once you get on the court, your players have to take over. You did so much detailed prep work with those two guys that if you got beat it was usually because the other team just had superior talent."

McAdoo says that the main difference between the two legends is simple: “Riley yells more. He’ll show his anger. I never really saw Dean Smith angry. He is really calm in all different types of situations.”

McAdoo replied quickly when I asked, “What player during your career was the most difficult or most challenging matchup for you individually?”

McAdoo: “Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Kareem was impossible to guard because he had the unstoppable skyhook. You knew that he was going to get 30 or 40 on you if you didn’t get some help. He was so tall and agile that there was just no way you were going to stop him.”

When I said, “So that was another advantage of going to the Lakers, right? You only had to guard him in practice,” McAdoo quickly retorted, “Well, he was lucky too because he didn’t have to guard me.” (laughs)

posted by David Friedman @ 9:15 PM


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At Wednesday, February 08, 2006 3:06:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A great player, along with Issel maybe the transitional figure in the game's evolution from back-to-the-basket centers to mobile jumpshooters. Anyone who put up his numbers today would be nominated for sainthood. But he quit on teams, most notably in Detroit, and that might be what kept him off the Top 50 list. After watching him milk an abdominal injury for months, I wouldn't want him on my club.

At Wednesday, February 08, 2006 4:22:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

As I mentioned during my Tuesday appearance on Betusradio.com, McAdoo's resume is complete: Rookie of the Year, three scoring titles, two NBA championships, one MVP. He showed that he could excel individually and that he was willing and able to sacrifice individual glory in order to win championships. Unless one is a doctor who has accurate, inside information about a player, it is difficult to know how seriously hurt an athlete really is. "Turf toe" sounds like a minor inconvenience, particularly when guys have played with broken bones--but "turf toe" ended the career of noted tough guy Jack Lambert. An "abdominal injury" may sound minor, but playing basketball requires one to constantly twist one's torso, so it may have been difficult or inadvisable for McAdoo to play at that time. Perhaps he had what is now being called a "sports hernia," the injury that has sidelined Grant Hill this year. Jack Ramsay and Pat Riley, McAdoo's coaches in Buffalo and L.A. respectively, speak very highly of him. However, you may be right that certain erroneous perceptions about the middle portion of McAdoo's career cost him some votes for the 50 Greatest Players List.


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