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Oscar Robertson Former NBA Player; NBA Free Agent Activist; Player of the Century
Oscar Robertson forever changed the game of basketball -- on the court and in the courtroom. Generally considered one of the greatest all-around players in the history of the game, he was voted Player of the Century by the National Association of Basketball Coaches. Robertson first came to national prominence in his home city of Indianapolis, leading Crispus Attucks High School to two consecutive state basketball championships—the first anywhere by an all-black school—and being named Indiana’s Mr. Basketball in 1956. He went on to a Hall of Fame career with the University of Cincinnati, the 1960 U.S. Olympic gold medal basketball team, the NBA Cincinnati Royals and the Milwaukee Bucks, leading that team to its first and only NBA championship.
As the longest-serving president of the National Basketball Players Association from 1965–1974, Robertson made an even more lasting impact with a successful class action anti-trust lawsuit against the NBA. A 1976 legal settlement, known as the Oscar Robertson Rule, helped NBA players become the first professional athletes to achieve free agency, forever changed the balance of power in professional sports and led to a new era of expansion, growth and prosperity for all sports that continues to the present day.
Oscar offers, “I saw at an early age that education, hard work and teamwork could create a path to opportunity, progress, and equality. When I started playing basketball, I wasn’t very good. The only way I was going to improve was to out-work everyone else, and to learn from players who were older and better than me. When they saw how serious I was about improving, they were more than willing to help me. I encourage children today to seek that same sort of guidance from their coaches, teachers, teammates, parents and grandparents. Doing that will serve you well not just in sports, but in all other aspects of life."