Jerry West: The Making of a Superstar, 1966
From Way Downtown Blog
by bobkuska
6d ago
[For years and for no good reason, Cazzie Russell has been staring at me in my office from a nearby glass cabinet. His mug, mostly expressionless while dribbling a basketball, is on the cover of the January 1966 issue of the magazine Dell Sports that tops a stack of magazines stored away in the cabinet.  Last weekend, I had occasion to rummage through the cabinet and picked up Cazzie the Magazine, trying nostalgically to remember the articles inside. Mostly college stuff, except for an interesting piece about the Los Angeles Lakers’ rising young superstar Jerry West. Doubly interesting, t ..read more
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Gus Johnson: ‘I Sometimes Amaze Me,’ 1966
From Way Downtown Blog
by bobkuska
6d ago
[It’s tough to find anybody who doesn’t hail the memory of Gus Johnson, the former NBA All-Pro who rattled rims and shattered backboards in the 1960s through the early 1970s. He also had a famously big personality, which Sports Illustrated’s Mark Kram captured so wonderfully in December 1964 with this classic lead: Gus Johnson comes across like a high note on a clarinet screaming in an empty hall. He has a gold star perfectly carved in the center of one long front tooth, wears $85 shoes, Continental suits and a tiny hat that sits cocked on the back of his large head. He is at once, in appearan ..read more
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James Jones: Best Guard in the ABA? 1974
From Way Downtown Blog
by bobkuska
1w ago
[In the 1970s, Dan Pattison covered the ABA’s Utah Stars for the Salt Lake City-based Deseret News. He clearly enjoyed his beat. Pattison wrote as knowledgably about the ABA as any reporter out there, and he loved his Stars while the franchise lasted.  In the March 6, 1974 issue of Basketball Weekly, Pattison highlighted one of his favorite Stars, James Jones, under the provocative headline: “Best Guard in the ABA?” Fifty years later, few would even think to pose that question. But Jones had game, lots of it. That’s why it’s worth taking a look back to remember just how good number 15 wit ..read more
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Oscar Robertson: As Bob Cousy Sees Him, 1965
From Way Downtown Blog
by bobkuska
2w ago
[Bob Cousy had his reservations about the aging, ball-dominant Oscar Robertson while coaching the Cincinnati Royals at the end of the 1960s. But Cousy was less reserved about the Big O earlier in the decade. The Cooz thought the young Royals’ star was the best thing going in an NBA backcourt and the bellwether for a “new breed” of player that was bigger, stronger, and more multitalented than in the 1950s. He explains more in this article published in Dell Sports’ 1964-65 Basketball annual. The article, written by Associated Press reporter Bob Hoobing, also includes perspective on Robertson’s b ..read more
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Bill Walton: Appreciating Perfection, 1986
From Way Downtown Blog
by bobkuska
2w ago
[RIP Bill Walton. I haven’t posted much on Walton on this blog, a celebration of old basketball magazines, mainly because too many articles took too many swings at his politics, his chronic injuries, and his supposed character flaws. I didn’t want to go there. For me, Walton was about so much more than all the tabloid digging in the dirt that tainted his NBA career. For me, when healthy, Walton was like watching perfection. A complete center in all aspects of the game. The Boston Globe’s Bob Ryan made the same point in a piece that ran in the newspaper on February 3, 1986. To mark the Big Redh ..read more
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Dismantling the Buffalo Braves, 1977
From Way Downtown Blog
by bobkuska
2w ago
[On this Memorial Day, we harken back to Buffalo’s Memorial Auditorium and the final days of the NBA Braves. The Braves’ sad NBA tale has been recounted many times. But this article, published in the Winter 1977 issue of the magazine Buffalo Fan, offers a real-time view of the dismantling and eventual relocation of the franchise to Los Angeles (or, was it Boston?) in 1978. The byline reads Geoffrey N. Betz.] **** As Tates Locke quietly packed up his gear to head back to North Carolina after being fired as coach of the Buffalo Braves, there was one simple question which went unanswered. Could&n ..read more
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Rick Mahorn’s Roman Holiday, 1992
From Way Downtown Blog
by bobkuska
3w ago
[This blog celebrates not only former pro players from “back in the day,” but some of the phenomenal sportswriters from that era. Mitch Albom certainly fits the latter category, and here’s the second installment of his 1992 trip to Italy to look up some former Detroit Pistons. Like his fantastic first installment, Albom’s visit with Rick Mahorn, the original Detroit Bad Boy, remains thoroughly fun reading today. It also offers food for thought on the progress that European basketball has made over the past few decades and presents a vivid picture of the trappings that enticed this first wave o ..read more
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Adrian Dantley’s Inferno, 1992
From Way Downtown Blog
by bobkuska
3w ago
[While working on a recent post about pro basketball in Europe, I happened upon this fantastic article from the equally fantastic Mitch Albom. In 1992, Albom took a trip to Italy to look up some former Detroit Piston greats, including Adrian Dantley and Rick Mahorn. Both, at the end of their basketball careers, made lucrative last stands playing in Italy. Here’s what Albom found on his self-described Arrivederci Adventure. His first story, which drops in on Dantley, ran on March 9, 1992 in the Detroit Free-Press. If you like this story, the Mahorn piece’s got next.] **** Today’s Italian lesson ..read more
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Pete Maravich: A Thin Line Between Love and Hate, 1972
From Way Downtown Blog
by bobkuska
3w ago
[Here’s an article about Pete Maravich during his early days with the Atlanta Hawks. What makes this article so special is its byline: the New York Post’s sports columnist Milton Gross, one of the all-time greats. “When you run with the pack,” Gross said of sports reporting, “you read like the pack. I run alone.” In this longer-form feature story, published in the March 1972 issue of the magazine Sports Scene, Gross gets to run alone a little longer and look a little deeper into Pistol Pete, entering his second NBA season. More than 40 years later, Gross’ longer look remains a good read. In Ma ..read more
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European Pro Basketball Back in the Day, 1993
From Way Downtown Blog
by bobkuska
3w ago
[By the mid-1980s, basketball was on the rise in Greece. The national team reached the European Cup for the first time in 1985, and the top Greek club teams were now bidding for NBA players to bolster their lineups. But in Greece, like the rest of Europe, pro basketball remained undercapitalized and underdeveloped. “You never know whether you’ll get paid or not,” lamented an American playing in Athens. “You’ve always got problems with the team.” In the February 1993 issue of SPORT Magazine, freelancer Doug Cress recounted “the nightmares” endured by Americans playing pro in Greece and througho ..read more
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