Wednesday, October 2, 2013

RIP Bob Kurland

Bob Kurland, the first great seven-foot big man in basketball history, died the other day at age 88.  He led Oklahoma State (called Oklahoma A&M back then) to consecutive national titles in 1945 and 1946 and also played on several Olympic teams in the 40s and 50s.  He was eligible to do the latter because he never played professional basketball; he worked as an engineer for Phillips Petroleum and played on the company's amateur team.

The funny thing about Kurland is the fact that he was often ridiculed as a player.  A rival coach called him the "Glandular Goon."  Given that he was personally responsible for the creation of the defensive goaltending rule (thanks to his habit of grabbing opponents' shots out of the air as they were about to fall into the basket) and is credited with the first slam dunk in an official game, one can easily detect a combination of resentment and envy in such words.

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