When James Naismith invented basketball in 1891, Bill Bradley was the type of player he envisioned. Bradley possessed intangibles that don’t always appear in stat sheets. Those intangibles didn’t go unnoticed by the Honors Committee, which elected him into the Hall of Fame in 1982. A thinking man’s player, Bradley had the scholarly ability to watch a play develop two or three passes ahead of time. Bradley’s “scientific” approach to basketball enabled him to enjoy two distinct careers as a collegian and a professional.
As a college superstar, Bradley was the focal point of Princeton’s offense; as a 10-year pro with the New York Knicks, he was an integral cog on a team that featured several All-Stars. After scoring a dazzling 3,068 points at Crystal City (MO) High School, Bradley spurned 70 nationwide scholarships, including one by Kentucky’s Adolph Rupp, and paid his own way to Princeton University. The Ivy League has never seen a more dominating player. At Princeton, Bradley was a three-time All-America and the 1965 Player of the Year. With Bradley in tow, the Tigers captured the Ivy League championship in each of his three varsity seasons. During his sophomore campaign, Bradley averaged 27.3 points and 12.2 rebounds a game while hitting 89.3 percent of his free throws. Among his greatest games was a 41-point effort in an 80-78 loss to heavily favored Michigan in the 1964 Holiday Festival (Bradley fouled out with his team leading 75-63), and a 58-point outburst against Wichita State in the 1965 NCAA tournament, which was a single game record. In total, Bradley scored 2,503 points at Princeton, averaging 30.2 points per game. In 1965, Bradley became the first basketball player chosen as winner of the AAU's prestigious James E. Sullivan Award, presented to the top amateur athlete in the country. After captaining the triumphant U.S. Olympic team in 1964, Bradley graduated with honors and was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford.
Drafted by the New York Knicks, he completed his Oxford studies and returned to basketball in 1967. “Dollar Bill” developed into one of the Knicks most solid players at forward and was instrumental in New York’s 1970 and 1973 NBA championships. His 12.4 ppg career average on Knick teams that featured Hall of Famers Willis Reed, Walt Frazier, Dave DeBusschere, Earl Monroe and Jerry Lucas pale in comparison to his overall value to championship basketball. After retiring from basketball in 1977, Bradley was elected a U.S. Senator from New Jersey in 1979.
Bill Bradley is a 2008 inductee of the New Jersey Hall of Fame.
|Birth Date: July 28, 1943|
|Born: Crystal City, MO|
|Weight: 205 pounds|
|Hall of Fame Induction: As a player on May 2, 1983|
|High School: Crystal City (MO) High School (1957-61)|
|College: Princeton University (1961-65)|
|Pro Playing Highlights: Played 10 professional seasons with the Knicks; Scored 9,217 points (12.4 ppg); NBA championships with New York Knicks (1970, 1973); Retired in 1977 and was elected a U.S. Senator (D-NJ) in 1979; Authored critically acclaimed book, Life on the Run|