clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

You Tube Gold: Spencer Haywood

A great and consequential player

Los Angeles Lakers v Washington Bullets
Spencer Haywood as a Los Angeles Laker

The 1968 Olympics may be best remembered for Bob Beamon’s insane long jump record, Dick Fosbury’s revolutionary high jump technique and a boycott of the US team by prominent Black athletes.

Among the players who didn’t go were UCLA’s Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (then Lew Alcindor) and Lucius Allen, St. Bonaventure’s Bob Lanier and Niagara’s Calvin Murphy (we don’t know if they all boycotted but none were on the team).

A surprise star was Spencer Haywood, who accomplished something we don't think anyone else ever did when college players were on the Olympics team: he made it from junior college.

He, along with UNC’s Charles Scott, helped lead the US to yet another gold medal. The first loss would come in 1972 but that was four years away and in ‘68, the US was still basically supreme.

Haywood is also famous for challenging the NBA’s ban on early entry. He won that fight and changed basketball forever.

And he was also a pretty good NBA (and briefly ABA) player. A cocaine addiction altered his career but not enough to keep him out of the Hall of Fame.

And as you’ll see here, Haywood was quck and immensely agile. His game would have translated nicely into today’s NBA.