Bob Pettit Speaker Profile
Bob Pettit Biography
Bob Pettit Jr. was born on December 12, 1932, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, U.S. and is a retired American professional basketball player. He played 11 seasons in the NBA, all with the Milwaukee/St. Louis Hawks (1954-1965). He was the first recipient of the NBA's Most Valuable Player Award. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1970. He also went by the nickname Dutch in college. He also won the NBA All-Star MVP award four times.
In 1954, the Milwaukee Hawks selected Pettit in the first round of the NBA Draft. Many were skeptical about Pettit making the transition from college to the rough-and-tumble NBA. Rookies often struggle adjusting to the pro game, but not Pettit in 1955 he won the NBA Rookie of the Year Award after averaging 20.4 points and 13.8 rebounds per game. After this season, the Hawks moved to St. Louis.
Pettit was moved to forward as a pro. In college I played the standing pivot, he said in a April 1957 issue of SPORT magazine interview. My back was to the basket. In the pros, I'm always outside. Everything I do is facing the basket now. That was my chief difficulty in adjusting, the fact that I had never played forward before.
In his second season, Pettit won his first scoring title with a 25.7 average, and led the league in rebounding (1164 for a 16.2 average). He was also named MVP of the 1956 NBA All-Star Game after scoring 20 points with 24 rebounds; he would win subsequent MVP All-Star Game honors in 1958, 1959, and 1962. He also won his first of two NBA regular season MVP awards (the other was in 1959).
In 1958, Pettit, Ed Macauley and Cliff Hagan led the Hawks to an NBA Championship, defeating the Bill Russell-led Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals (the Hawks had acquired Macauley and Hagan from Boston for the draft rights to Russell). Pettit put an exclamation point on the Hawks' 110-109 game 6 victory by scoring a then-playoff record of 50 points. Both teams would also meet in the 1957, 1960 and 1961 Finals, with Boston winning each time.
Pettit's league leading scoring average of 29.2 points per game in the 1958-59 season was an NBA record at the time, and he was named the Sporting News NBA MVP. In the 1960-61 season, Pettit pulled down 20.3 rebounds per game, making him one of only five players to ever break the 20 rpg barrier. In the following season, he scored a career best 31.1 points per game.
Pettit ended his career in 1965, becoming the first NBA player to eclipse the 20,000 points mark (20,880 for a 26.4 average). His 12,849 rebounds were second most in league history at the time he retired, and his 16.2 rebounds per game career average remains third only to Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell.
Pettit was an NBA All-Star in each of his 11 seasons, was named to the All-NBA First Team ten times, and was named to the All-NBA Second Team once. Pettit still holds the top two NBA All-Star Game rebounding performances with 26 in 1958 and 27 in 1962, and has the second highest All-Star Game points per game average with 20.4 (behind only Oscar Robertson). Pettit averaged at least 20 points per game and at least 12 rebounds per game in each of his 11 NBA seasons. No other retired player in NBA history other than Pettit and Alex Groza (who played only two seasons) has averaged more than 20 points per game in every season they've played (note: Michael Jordan averaged exactly 20 points per game in his final season).
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