I was surfing around a bit today and found a Los Angeles Times piece from August about the 1960 gold medal winning Olympic Team, which was enshrined in the basketball Hall of Fame this year along with the 1992 Olympic “Dream Team.”
A big forward on that 1960 amateur team was none other than Bob Boozer, the top pick in the 1959 NBA draft and later the man whose retirement in 1971 is believed to have set in motion the Bucks ongoing jinx at the power forward position (not to say that the LA Times has recognized the .atter phenomenon, but give them time).
Here’s an excerpt:
Knee injuries delayed the professional basketball debuts of No. 1 NBA draft picks Greg Oden and Blake Griffin.
For Bob Boozer, it was national pride.
The top pick in 1959, he kept the Cincinnati Royals at arm’s length for more than a year to maintain his amateur status in hopes of playing for Team USA in the 1960 Olympics.
“I always had this deep desire to represent this country on its Olympic basketball squad,” Boozer says, “and at that time, you only had one go-round at it. Everyone told me, ‘Your chances are remote,’ et cetera, et cetera. Each person that tried to get me to sign on the dotted line expressed that, but I said, ‘Hey, this is something I’ve got to go for.’
“I knew I only had once chance.”
The 6-foot-8 former forward made the most of it, taking his place on a team coached by Pete Newell that tore through its Olympic competition in Rome by an average of 42.4 points a game.
Considered the greatest amateur basketball team ever assembled, it featured future Hall of Famers Oscar Robertson, Jerry West, Jerry Lucas and Walt Bellamy.
“We,” Boozer says, “were the first Dream Team.”
UPDATES: Still no Andrew Bogut or John Salmons in the Bucks preseason, which hasn’t helped lend any relevance to the games, though the Bucks have won three of four. How do they look? That remains to be seen because I haven’t seen them, but, again, how to get a fix on a team playing without two of its top three players (Bogut and Salmons)?
Last night (Thursday) in DC, the Bucks fell behind 57-51 at half but rolled the Wizards in the second half (96-88 final) with their usual in-yer-jersey defense and a rim-attacking offense that got to the line 43 times. A free throw advantage? The Bucks could get used to that and should; in the absence of Bogut, they took advantage of the Wiz in the paint all night with Drew Gooden (25 pts), who started at center.
Defense in the second half, however, was the story. Luc Mbah a Moute (35 mins) and Chris Douglas-Roberts (a team-leading 35 mins for CDR) led the defensive charge that turned the game around (the Wiz were held to just 31 pts in the second). Carlos Delfino (28 mins) was back in the lineup after missing a couple of games with a bad toe, and coach Scott Skiles singled out Del and his defense, ball movement and spacing for praise, which along with the high minutes played for his defensive stalwarts, is a pretty strong indication of what Skiles is looking for and who’s getting it done .
Ersan Ilyasova at power forward and Keyon Dooling backing up Brandon Jennings are also seeing strong preseason minutes. I still don’t see where defensively-challenged shooting guard Corey Maggette fits in to the rotation, not with Del and CDR battling for guard minutes behind Salmons, and Luc surely to get some minutes there too based on defensive matchups.
It’s early, I know, and it’s all too easy at this point to see Maggette as trade bait to help trigger the inevitable deal to part ways with Michael Redd.
TOUGH BREAK for Hobson: With the pending logjam on the wings, rookie Darington Hobson wasn’t going to play much, and now he won’t play at all this season. Hobson had surgery on his left hip a week ago and the knife will go into his right hip in a couple of weeks, the Bucks announced. Hobson will miss the entire season and that doesn’t sound good for a second round pick who hasn’t had a chance to make much of an impression on his new team.
On the other hand, it’s probably not so bad for Hobson to sit out while Skiles and Hammond figure out how much they like CD-R, decide what they want to do with Maggette, gauge whether Luc can improve his outside shot and earn more minutes on the wing; and let’s not forget Delfino and the question of how committed the Bucks are to Del. As noted above, Skiles is beginning to realize the value of having Del on the court.
That’s quite a lot to sort out, which didn’t make Milwaukee this season the best environment for a rookie wing to develop in. A healthy Hobson next season might have a better chance of defining his game and earning some PT.