In the history of the NBA, there are some really impressive accomplishments but few were more impressive than blocking Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s skyhook.
It was first of all a shot delivered by a man who was 7-2 and elegantly athletic. He mastered the hook shot in a way that no one before and certainly no one since ever did or even came close to doing.
And he could shoot it from just about anywhere and with either hand. It was the greatest offensive weapon in basketball history and it’s not even close.
But while it was a superbly polished weapon released at a great height and with an even higher arc, it wasn’t impossible to block. In fact at least three players did it, four if you count goaltending.
Wilt Chamberlain did it twice in one game. Ralph Sampson did it once. Artis Gilmore was the goaltender. And the fourth guy?
The long-forgotten Bill “Poodle” Willoughby. He entered the NBA straight out of high school when it was highly unusual to do so: only Moses Malone and Darryl Dawkins had ever done so.
The thing about blocking Kareem was Willoughby was only 6-8. However, he had a 47” vertical so that surely helped.
Still, it’s hard to find anyone else who did it. It’s a real shame that no one has truly mastered the hook shot in decades. It’s a beautiful thing to see.