West and 1960 Olympic Team Still Revered

 

You may not have noticed the death of former NBA player Bob Boozer over the weekend.

A former college great at Kansas State, Boozer had a solid NBA career from 1960-71.  Boozer was an original member of the expansion Chicago Bulls and is a former NBA all-star.  He also won a ring as a member of the 1971 NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks.

But, when you read about Boozer’s passing, most of the obituaries started by saying, "Bob Boozer a member of the 1960 Olympic basketball team,"  

Ah, that 1960 Olympic team, a team that won the Olympic Gold Medal in Rome. The team that featured former East Bank and WVU star, Jerry West.  It is a team that, even over 50 years later, has a special place of glory in our country’s basketball and Olympic history.

This really was the first Dream Team, although it was on the collegeiate level. This was a team that featured some of the most popular college players in our country’s history. They won all of their Olympic games by an average of 42 points a game.

It was an incredible collection of talent. Besides West, there was Oscar Robertson of Cincinnati, considered by many the best to ever lace up a pair of sneakers.  There was also Jerry Lucas of Ohio State, considered one of the best five college players to ever play the game.  There was also Adrian Smith of Kentucky, Walt Bellamy of Indiana, Terry Dischinger from Purdue and Darrell Imhoff from California.  Imhoff and Cal beat West aned WVU in the 1959 NCAA Finals. 

Bob Boozer actually graduated from Kansas State in 1959, but he delayed going into the NBA for a year so that he could stay eligible to play in the Olympics. He played AAU ball for the Peoria Caterpillars. 

For many reasons, Jerry West and that 1960 Olympic team are a special part of our basketball history.  Bob Boozer’s passing is a reminder of that team’s popularity. 





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