clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Did you know...?: Oscar Robertson

New, comments

This week, I'm changing it up a bit, focusing on a player who never wore forum blue and gold, but who was as important to the sport of basketball as anyone who did. Why Robertson, you ask? Because he's the guy that Kobe Bryant dude just passed to reach ninth on the NBA's all-time scoring list, and someone Whipp mentioned the fact that The Big O doesn't get talked about enough considering his legacy. So let's talk about him some more.

Jump in, the water's fine.



Simple. Straightforward. Smooth but direct. The Big O always took care of business, off the court and on. He won free agency for NBA Players, a first in professional sports. Led his teams to the top in high school, college, Olympics, the NBA (Milwaukee’s only title to date). Never invited to apply for NBA coaching or general manager positions, he created his own successes in the business world. Oscar Robertson changed the game. Helped change our society. On his own terms.

The above words are a description of Oscar Robertson used to promote his autobiography, "The Big O: My Life, My Times, My Game". By all accounts, Robertson is a wonderful man, one who overcame extreme introversion as a child to learn basketball and become the man we know today as The Big O. He's done some incredible things in his life, both on and off the court. But what do we really know about The Big O? Here are some tidbits for you to savor:

  • He was born in Tennessee in 1938, and is the youngest of three boys (his mom should be canonized before Pope John Paul II).
  • He led the Crispus Attucks High School Tigers on a 45-game winning streak, during which time they won two consecutive Indiana state titles and a national championship; CAHS became the first African-American school and the first Indianapolis school to win the Indiana state crown, and the first African-American school to win a national championship in any sport.
  • He attended the University of Cincinnati, where he became known as The Big O, leading the Bearcats to the Final Four in 1959 and 1960 (yes, they had electricity back then, kids); he became the first player to lead the NCAA in scoring for three straight years, and was also the first to win National College Player of the Year honors three times.
  • He played 14 years in the NBA -- ten with the Cincinnati Royals and four with the Milwaukee Bucks, leading his teams to 10 playoff appearances, including an NBA championship with Lew Alcindor (whom we know today as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) and the Bucks in 1971 (their lone chip to date).



  • He was the NBA's Rookie of the Year in 1961 and Most Valuable Player in 1964.
  • He was a 12-time NBA All-Star and was voted Most Valuable Player in three All-Star games.
  • In 1961-62, his sophomore season, he became the only player in NBA history ever to average a "triple double" for an entire season. He actually averaged a triple double over his first five seasons, barely missing extending that average to six years.
  • He's the all-time leader in triple-double games (181).
  • He was a first-ballot inductee into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 1979; he was inducted into the FIBA Hall of Fame in 2009.
  • He was the third President of the NBA Players Association from 1965 - 1974 when he retired (you're in good company, D-Fish).
  • He was responsible for NBA players gaining free agency, The Oscar Robertson Rule. (LeBron James should send him flowers every week)
  • In 1992 he co-founded the National Basketball Retired Players Association.
  • In 1998, the U.S. Basketball Writers renamed its annual player of the year award the Oscar Robertson Trophy.
  • In 1997, Oscar donated a kidney to his daughter Tia, who was suffering from lupus. He has since become an advocate for health and wellness, kidney disease prevention and organ transplantation on behalf of the National Kidney Foundation.
  • In 2000, he was named "Player of the Century" by the National Association of Basketball Coaches.
  • He's an author, publisher, essayist, host of his own website, and a highly successful and respected businessman

Oh, and he did this



which was turned into this



And is now this



Complete list of winners of the Oscar Robertson Trophy (some names may surprise you)

2010 Evan Turner, Ohio State
2009 Blake Griffin, Oklahoma
2008 Tyler Hansbrough, North Carolina
2007 Kevin Durant, Texas
2006 Adam Morrison, Gonzaga; J.J. Redick, Duke
2005 Andrew Bogut, Utah
2004 Jameer Nelson, St. Joseph's
2003 David West, Xavier
2002 Jay Williams, Duke
2001 Shane Battier, Duke
2000 Kenyon Martin, Cincinnati
1999 Elton Brand, Duke
1998 Antawn Jamison, North Carolina
1997 Tim Duncan, Wake Forest
1996 Marcus Camby, Massachusetts
1995 Ed O'Bannon, UCLA
1994 Glenn Robinson, Purdue
1993 Calbert Cheaney, Indiana
1992 Christian Laettner, Duke
1991 Larry Johnson, UNLV
1990 Lionel Simmons, La Salle
1989 Danny Ferry, Duke
1988 Hersey Hawkins, Bradley
1987 David Robinson, Navy
1986 Walter Berry, St. John's
1985 Chris Mullin, St. John's
1984 Michael Jordan, North Carolina
1983 Ralph Sampson, Virginia
1982 Ralph Sampson, Virginia
1981 Ralph Sampson, Virginia
1980 Mark Aguirre, DePaul
1979 Larry Bird, Indiana State
1978 Phil Ford, North Carolina
1977 Marques Johnson, UCLA
1976 Adrian Dantley, Notre Dame
1975 David Thompson, N.C. State
1974 Bill Walton, UCLA
1973 Bill Walton, UCLA
1972 Bill Walton, UCLA
1971 Sidney Wicks, UCLA
1970 Pete Maravich, LSU
1969 Pete Maravich, LSU
1968 Lew Alcindor, UCLA
1967 Lew Alcindor, UCLA
1966 Cazzie Russell, Michigan
1965 Bill Bradley, Princeton
1964 Walt Hazzard, UCLA
1963 Art Heyman, Duke
1962 Jerry Lucas, Ohio State
1961 Jerry Lucas, Ohio State
1960 Oscar Robertson, Cincinnati
1959 Oscar Robertson, Cincinnati


So, what do you know about Oscar Robertson?

Author's note: all the above information can be found on,,