That’s right fans, Oscar “The Big O” Robertson from the University of Cincinnati. Oscar Robertson came into the league in the 1960 season. The Cincinnati Royals in the NBA territorial draft drafted him number one overall. All this after Robertson had to endure threats on his life during his varsity years at the University of Cincinnati.
Forget good, forget great. This guy was special. His game was so fundamentally sound it was ridiculous. He could do things that players today wouldn’t even attempt. Think I am kidding? Oscar could shoot jump shots with either hand! Name one guy in the league that does that. And what a jump shot it was. Robertson would cradle the ball in his right hand, cock it back above his head, and let it go as if a bird was leaping into flight. These are just peeks at his intangibles. Oscar would have an impact on the game that few can challenge.
Physically, Robertson was a brand new concept in the NBA. He was 6’5” and 210 lbs. BIG for a guard back then. He could rebound with forwards and take off with it down the floor on the fast break. He immediately would begin putting up numbers as a rookie that would dominate today’s game. Winning rookie of the year, Robertson averaged 30.5 ppg, 9.7 apg, and 10.1 rpg. It would take Magic Johnson twenty years to come along and even give statisticians a reason to worry if Oscar’s rookie year was to be challenged. His sophomore year, he would do something that hasn’t yet been matched. Oscar Robertson would average a triple-double for the entirety of the ’61-62 season! He scored 30.8 points. Snatched 11.4 rebounds. Dished 12.5 dimes. He did this every time he laced up his sneakers. In my opinion, the single most impressive feat in sports lore to date.
Oscar would captivate the hearts and imaginations of so many of the games legends to come. Over the next thirteen years he would simply put up numbers that today would command shoe deals, endorsements, and paparazzi that few athletes deserve. He would end his career having won a NBA championship with Lew Alcindor, league MVP in ’64, All-NBA first team nine times, All-NBA second team twice, twelve time NBA All-Star, three time All-Star game MVP, Olympic gold medallist in ’60, scoring champion in ’68, led the league in assists eight times, would be enshrined to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in ’79, and named one of the greatest fifty players in history.