By Scoop Malinowski
Status: NBA Hall of Fame guard. Played 14 seasons (1960-74) with the Cincinnati Royals and Milwaukee Bucks.
DOB: November 24, 1938 In: Charlotte, Tennessee
Childhood Heroes: “Goose Tatum, Marcus Haynes and the Harlem Globetrotters.”
Nickname: “The Big O. From Dick Baker, the radio announcer at the University of Cincinnati. Been with me ever since.”
Hobbies/Interests: “Sometimes I might get on my motorcycle and ride. Do woodwork. Play golf. Or go out and sit in the yard sometimes. I don’t play much competitive basketball anymore. But I shoot around with some friends. I fulfilled my competitive desires playing with the Milwaukee Bucks.”
Early Basketball Memory: “Just playing when I was in 7th and 8th grade with guys I grew up with. First time I ever got on any kind of organized team. You’re pure then. No one has contaminated you. And you’re out there struggling like everyone else to make the team. You make the team, it’s really something, it’s really wonderful.”
Favorite Movies: “I don’t like movies. I think movies are truly a waste of time. Because it’s not real. I like history, the Discovery Channel. I like things that are really close to nature. And history. I don’t like movies where a guy goes into a building and shoots 100 people. And all the movies today are nothing but sex all in them.”
Pre-Game Feeling: “I was relaxed before. Didn’t have any jitters about the competition or what I was gonna do. Just part of your life. Just like you’re going to work. Get up, get in your car and go to work. I did the same thing. I didn’t have any special feeling about going to play in a basketball game. I played in too many games.”
Greatest Sports Moment: “There’s been many for me. When you have a long career with different stages – from high school to college to pro – it’s very difficult to say. I’m happy that I was able to win a gold medal for the USA Olympic team in 1960 in Rome. The NBA title (with Milwaukee in ’71) was great. It came after a long, long career. I got to be involved with coaches and managers and picking players and some that can play and some can’t. Sometimes winning the championship is out of your hands.”
Most Painful Moment: “Oh, getting hurt of course. I’ve been hurt everywhere, you name it, I hurt it [laughs]. But I bounced back and I think that’s the key to being a true professional. No matter what happens, you gotta get out there on the court for the next game. Naturally, sometimes I could not do that. But overall, I think I had an overall healthy, injury-free career.”
Funny Basketball Memory: “I don’t have anything funny at all. I was a serious-type individual.”
Toughest Competitors: “Depends. In the playoffs, everybody got tougher. Everybody played tough. What you see today is a lot of scratching and clawing which really is not very good basketball. You see a person take a hard foul which I think is a deliberate foul. The person should be ejected but the refs don’t have the guts to do it.”
Favorite Athletes To Watch: “Michael Jordan. Scottie Pippen. Jason Kidd. Elgin Baylor – the greatest player of all time. Kobe Bryant. LeBron James – I’m glad he got off the mark well. He runs well, jumps well and sees the court well. I think he’ll be a very good player.”
Career Accomplishments: One NBA Championship; NBA Rookie of the Year in 1960; NBA MVP in 1964; 12-time NBA All-Star; averaged 25.7 points per game, 9.5 assists per game and 7.5 rebounds per game; Elected to Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1979.
(Note: The Big O Oscar Robertson was kind enough to do this Biofile in the 90s at an NBA event in NYC.)