Oscar Robertson

Oscar Robertson

Oscar Palmer Robertson is a retired professional basketball player. He was born on November 24, 1938 in Charlotte, Tennessee. He lived in a segregated housing project and attended a segregated high school called Crispus Attucks High School. He learned to play basketball at a very young age. His family was so poor that he could not even afford to buy a proper basketball, so he used make a makeshift ball by wrapping up a tennis ball in rags and practicing to shoot. He played basketball on the school team and won two back to back state titles with them. His school was the first all black school to win a state championship. In his junior year, his team had a perfect win loss record of 31-0. His senior year average was 24.0 points per game and he was named Indiana “Mr. Basketball” in 1956.

After graduating from high school, Oscar Robertson enrolled at the University of Cincinnati, where he continued to play basketball. He maintained a stellar record at college, and his scoring average of 33.8 points per game was the third highest in college history. In his three year tenure at university, he won the national scoring title, scored 10 triple-doubles, was chosen as the College Player of the Year, and set more than a dozen National Collegiate Athletic Association as well as other school records. After graduating from college, he was named the captain of the 1960 Summer Olympics U.S. men’s basketball team, which went undefeated and won the Gold medal. He was the leading scorer of the tournament, along with future NBA star Jerry Lucas.

In the 1960 NBA draft, Robertson was chosen by the Cincinnati Royals. He was given a signing bonus of $33,000 which helped him to improve his financial position considerably. He continued to play impressively, and was named NBA Rookie of the Year, and elected into the All-NBA First Team, something he continued to do for nine consecutive seasons. He was also named the NBA All-Star Game Most Valuable Player in 1961. He helped his team reach the Eastern Division finals, which they lost to the Boston Celtics. In his second season with the Royals, he became the first player in NBA history to maintain a triple double average for an entire season.

In 1970, much to everyone’s surprise, Oscar Robertson was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks. He was disappointed with his team and coach’s behavior, but the trade was very lucrative for him. He got to play with an all star team of players, such as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. His team won the NBA title in his fist season there, and dominated the entire season. In 1972 and 1973, he helped his team win the division titles and in 1974, he helped them to reach the NBA Finals. Robertson is also well known for the 1971 lawsuit that he filed against the NBA, which came to be known as the Oscar Robertson suit. It took six years to resolve, but the final result was an easier process of signing free agents and higher salaries for all players.

After retirement from the NBA, Oscar Robertson got involved in philanthropic and social work, especially with regards to improving living conditions for African Americans. He had been a victim of racism all his life, and he wished to give back to his community. He has been inducted to the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame, National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame and as well as the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

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