More on The Big O’s defensive impact

A couple of posts back I talked about the Bucks awesome defense during the Kareem/Oscar era.  I stated that Kareem certainly deserved some credit, but not all the credit, because if you look at all of the surrounding “Kareem Teams” that did not feature Oscar Robertson, the defense on those teams was not nearly as good.  So I speculated that Oscar was due a certain amount of credit.

The Sports Illustrated piece I linked to yesterday lent further credence to the Oscar Robertson theory.  It implied that he locked down Jerry West in the 1972 Western Finals, and it stated outright that he was a master at using the then-legal handcheck.  I forgot about the handcheck.  That makes sense that the powerful Big O used that to his advantage.

The Big O was essentially the LeBron James of his day (or the other way around).  If you look at his game I video tape, you can’t appreciate his dominance.  But those who saw him play understood it. 

One time I asked my high school basketball coach why Oscar was so good back in the day, and he gave a brilliant, succinct answer:

“He was stronger than anyone who was quick enough to guard him, and quicker than anyone who was strong enough to guard him.”

Doesn’t that sound like LeBron?  A power forward playing the perimeter.  The Big O was basically a power forward in the backcourt.  And I’m beginning to believe that his preternatural size was a huge defensive advantage for the 1970s Bucks.


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