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YouTube Gold: Young Wes Unseld

One of the more brilliant talents of his era

Baltimore Bullets vs New York Knicks
Baltimore Bullets Wes Unseld (41) in action vs New York Knicks at Cole Field House. College Park, MD 1/31/1971 
Set Number: X15493 TK5 R2 F14

Wes Unseld was one of the most unusual players to ever come along: he played center at 6-7 in a time when the NBA was played from the lane outward and there was no three point shot, no Seth Currys, Damien Lillards or Trae Youngs to pull the defenses out.

And when he came in, he was going against Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Nate Thurmond, Willis Reed and, after his first season, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

The funny thing is he wasn’t a particular great athlete. He was thick and very strong but he didn’t really run all that fast (or much) and didn’t jump that high. But he did something pretty amazing as a rookie: he won Rookie of the Year and League MVP, something only Wilt Chamberlain has ever done.

A native of Louisville, he stayed at home and had a terrific career for the Cardinals, even though a lot of people were pushing him to help integrate Kentucky, something that would have to wait for Tom Payne.

The game has moved on and we’ll probably never see a player like him again. This video shows him as a young player though and it’s pretty great.