Oscar Palmer Robertson (born Nov 24, 1938) is a retired professional basketball player from the United States, who played in the NBA between 1960 and 1974. One of the best players of his time, Oscar Robertson overcame several turmoils in his career to emerge as one of the very best players, NBA has ever produced. A player with a very eccentric personality, Robertson is seen as a hero in not just basketball but in sports in general as he is one of the stars who rose above the domineering force of racism. Long after his exit from the basketball scene, Robertson still serves as an inspiration for young budding basketball players.
Oscar Robertson Biography Quick Facts, Age
Here are some biography quick facts that you need to know about the American basketball legend.
- Full Name: Oscar Palmer Robertson
- Nickname: The Big O
- Date of Birth: November 24, 1938
- Age: 82 years old
- Place of Birth: Charlotte, Tennessee, USA
- Nationality: American
- Zodiac Sign: Sagittarius
- Height: 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)
- Weight: 93 kg (205 lb)
- High School: Crispus Attucks High School
- College: University of Cincinnati
- NBA Draft: 1960 (Territorial pick) Cincinnati Royals
- Position: Point guard
- Kit Number: #13, #1
- Playing Career: 1960 – 1970 (Cincinnati Royals) 1970 – 1974 (Milwaukee Bucks)
- Father: Bailey Robertson
- Mother: Mazell Robertson
- Brother: Bailey Robertson, Jr., Henry Robertson
- Sister: Roslyn Jordan, Deloris Jordan
- Wife: Yvonne Crittenden (married 1960)
- Daughter: Tia Elaine Robertson, Mari Robertson, Shana Yvonne Robertson
Oscar Robertson Early Life & Childhood
Born on November 24, 1938, at a time when racism was at its height in America in the 20th century, Oscar Robertson is one of three children born to Bailey Robertson and Mazell Robertson. Aside from the racism his family endured, they also battled with poverty. Despite the peril, he and his family faced, Oscar Robertson was attracted to sports.
Rather than engaging in baseball which several kids of his time did, he had to settle with basketball which was believed to be a poor kid game. His love for basketball made him improvise when his parents couldn’t afford to buy him a basketball. He made use of tennis balls and rags tied with rubber bands as his basketball and a peach basketball as a hoop.
Robertson went on to attend an all black high school, Crispus Attucks High School, where he excelled marvelously. He led his team to claim the state championship twice, first in his junior year and second in his senior year where they recorded 45 successive victories. As a result of his accomplishment and performance in his senior year he was named the 1956 Mr. Basketball.
Oscar Robertson’s College Career
After his successful high school career, he went on to play for the University of Cincinnati. At the University of Cincinnati Robertson recorded amazing performance. From his sophomore year down to his senior year he claimed the College Player of the Year award and topped the scoring chart. He also received All-American honours. He, however, did not win the NCAA Championship. His college career was marred by racism.
During trips to segregated cities, Robertson had to sleep in college dormitories rather than hotels, like his peers. He graduated from college as the highest scorer in the history of the NCAA, a record which was broken in 1970. In 1998, in honour of the records and accomplishments in the NCAA, the NCAA Division I Player of the Year was named the Oscar Robertson Trophy.
Oscar Robertson’s Professional Career
Cincinnati Royals (1960–1970)
In the 1960 NBA Draft, Oscar Robertson was selected by the Cincinnati Royals as a territorial pick. He was thus given a $33,000 signing bonus. In his debut season, he had an amazing performance which earned him the Rookie of the Year award and the 1961 All-star game MVP. In his second season in the NBA, he emerged as the first player in the league to average a triple-double throughout the season. The Royals progressed to the Eastern Conference finals but were defeated by the Boston Celtics.
His third season in the NBA, the 1963/64 season, saw him claim the league MVP, the only player to win it aside Wilt Chamberlian and Bill Russell in the 1960s. He also won the All-star game MVP. The 1964/65 season was the beginning of a downward path for the Cincinnati Royals, as their performance saw them defeated in the playoffs in the 1965 to 1967 seasons. From 1968 to 1970, they didn’t even make it the playoffs, despite the return of Bob Cousy, who was the head coach then, to the court.
Milwaukee Bucks (1970–1974)
Ahead of the 1971 season, Robertson was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks. This was particularly strange because Robertson was the Royals star player. It was rumoured that Bob Cousy was jealous of Robertson and thus the Royals decided to transfer him. Whatever it was, the relationship between Robertson and the Royals suffered. At the Bucks, he formed a very formidable partnership with Lew Alcindor, later known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
The partnership worked out really well as in his first season with the Bucks, Robertson and Alcindor led the Bucks to the 1971 NBA Finals where they defeated the Baltimore Bullets to claim the Championship. That year was a historic year for basketball and Robertson who was the NBA Player Association president. The Association took the NBA to court and being the president of the Association he was at the centre of the entire affair. The Robertson v. National Basketball Ass’n case delayed the merger of the ABA and NBA.
The case led to the amendment of the free agency and college draft clauses. Prior to the amendment, free agency was non-existent and basketball franchises owned players which forbade them from discussing with another franchise as long as they had a contract with the franchise. The two seasons after his first NBA win, he led the Bucks to claim division titles. In the 1974 season, his final season of basketball, he led the Bucks to the NBA Finals, but they lost to the Boston Celtics. He thus retired from basketball.
Oscar Robertson Wife, Personal Life
In 1960, Oscar Robertson got married to his wife, Yvonne Crittenden. The couple has three children.
Robertson donated one of his kidneys to his daughter, Tia, in 1997, as a result of kidney failure related to lupus.
In 2003, his autobiography “The Big O: My Life, My Times, My Game” was published. He revealed that he considered Marques Haynes and Goose Tatum who were Harlem Globetrotters players as his basketball idols. Prior to Russel Westbrook 2016/17 triple-double basketball season, he said he was sceptical anyone could do it.
In June 2007, the University of Cincinnati awarded him Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters as an acknowledgement of his entrepreneurial and philanthropic activities.
Robertson owns a chemical company, named, Orchem, based in Cincinnati, Ohio. Robert auctioned one of the jerseys he wore while playing for the Milwaukee Bucks, his Hall of Fame ring and a Championship ring.
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