When I was a boy, NBA teams like the Syracuse Nats, Cincinnati Royals, Philadelphia Warriors and St. Louis Hawks flickered across our TV screen on Sunday afternoons.
Reading the long-vanished Sport magazine, with its glowing profiles of sports stars, I turned into an NBA fan, a rarity among Southern boys raised on college football.
My favorite team was Bob Pettit's Hawks, who beat the Celtics of Bob Cousy and Bill Russell in 1957 to win the franchise's only championship.
But my favorite player was the Lakers' Elgin Baylor. Soaring above the basket, leaping after the ball, Baylor was like a supersonic jet among crop-dusters.
As many commentators said this week after Baylor's death of natural causes at age 86, Baylor was the prototype for later high-flying stars like Julius Irving, Michael Jordan and LeBron James.
Before Wilt Chamberlain scored his 100 points in Hershey, Pa., Baylor held the record of 71, scored against the Knicks at old Madison Square Garden in 1960, as the New York Post's Mike Vaccaro recalled.
A few images remain from my childhood moments watching TV sports: Willie Mays in centerfield, Dizzy Dean and Pee Wee Reese calling baseball games, Mickey Mantle and the Yankees, the old New York Giants, Bears and Packers, the old AFL Houston Oilers and Oakland Raiders, college football on Saturday afternoons. And Elgin Baylor, flying to the basket.
1958 NBA Champs - Hawks
Posted by: Kurt | 03/26/2021 at 04:10 PM