NBA 75th Anniversary Season
Q&A: Bob McAdoo on being a 'scorer deluxe' and who he watches in today's NBA
Bob McAdoo reflects on his legendary career that landed him in the Hall of Fame and on the NBA's 75th Anniversary Team.
Bob McAdoo loves to reminisce about his playing career, especially the five seasons he spent with the Buffalo Braves. And with good reason.
In 14 seasons in the NBA, the 6-foot-9 forward won two championship rings, was named Rookie of the Year in 1972-73, named NBA MVP in 1974-75, was a five-time All-Star and won three consecutive scoring titles (1973-76). He also led the NBA in field goal percentage (54.7%) in 1973-74 despite doing most of his damage as a jump shooter.
Impressive resume, right?
Let him explain.
Editor’s Note: The following conversation has been condensed and edited.
NBA.com: You averaged 22.1 points and 9.4 rebounds in your 14-year NBA career. How would you fare in today’s game?
McAdoo: I think my game would have been perfect for today. I’ve heard a lot of people say of all the old guys, Bob McAdoo’s game would have translated better than anyone because he was doing what [Kevin] Durant is doing now. I see these guys playing now, and they think it’s so phenomenal, and it is, but they got to realize it was done before them. I see Luka Doncic and Durant. I saw Dirk Nowitzki. I see all these big guys shooting and I’m like hmmm, that favors what I did in the 1970s.
What are some of the biggest differences you’ve noticed from when you played compared to now?
Now, they have the private jets, they can get out of town right after the game. We had to get up at 4 or 5 in the morning to take a commercial jet. We had to take our own uniforms and shoes. These guys don’t have to take nothing. The only thing they have to bring is their game. Also, the money is different. These guys don’t have to fight to get contracts. They are giving guys averaging five points per game $50 million. It’s crazy.
When the NBA’s 50th Anniversary Team was announced, some fans felt like you were snubbed. Did you agree?
I was upset I wasn’t on it. My older son pointed out that I was the only MVP and the only scoring champ that didn’t make it. Like, wow … that’s messed up.
Congratulations on being named to the NBA’s 75th Anniversary squad, though. That is quite an honor.
I’m glad I lived another 25 years to see it!
You could score with the best of them, especially in Buffalo where you averaged over 30 points three times in five seasons.
I was a one-time MVP but very easily could have been a three-time MVP and nobody brings it up. All these players they put in front of me, it makes me want to laugh. If I would have only played my career in Buffalo, those five years — how could they have kept me out of the top 10 players of all time? Look at what my numbers would have been.
After your NBA career was over, you had six highly successful years in Italy where you won every award imaginable.
My time in Italy was some of the most enjoyable years of basketball in my life. My last two years in the NBA, they didn’t get my best because they didn’t play me right as far as my role and my playing time. In Italy, I was one of the biggest stars.
Who were the best players you ever had as teammates?
Kareem [Abdul-Jabbar], of course. Magic Johnson. Moses Malone. Julius Erving. Charles Barkley. Randy Smith in Buffalo. Walt Frazier and Earl Monroe were near the end of their careers, but I have to give them their kudos because they were great players.
Who was the best player you ever played against?
Kareem was the best. Rick Barry was a monster. Pistol Pete Maravich was good. Michael Jordan hadn’t become Jordan yet when I played against him.
Who do you currently enjoy watching?
Right now, I like Kevin Durant. I like LeBron James. I like Stephen Curry.
You had the honor of playing for some of the best coaches in basketball history. Who were your favorites and what did you learn from them?
Pat Riley is a task master. He got us together in Los Angeles. He came to Miami and changed the entire culture down here. His first day, remember I came in with him as a coach his first year. He changed the entire culture and it’s been like that every year he’s been here. He expected perfection. And conditioning. What I learned from Pat was how to manage 12 to 15 egos. Especially with our Lakers and Heat teams. James Worthy, Michael Cooper, Norm Nixon, Jamaal Wilkes — we had a bunch of players in Los Angeles.
In Buffalo, I had Dr. Jack Ramsay who was into conditioning, too. My college coach was Dean Smith at North Carolina. So, I had coaches who were big on conditioning. When I got to Pat, a lot of players couldn’t take it. I didn’t have a problem with it. I had Red Holzman in New York along with Willis Reed. In Boston, I had K.C. Jones, Larry Brown was a coach when I was in New Jersey. I learned intensity from Riley and Ramsay. I learned calmness from Dean Smith. Tight game, 10 seconds left, Dean was so calm on the sidelines.
How would you best describe your game?
I was a scorer. I was a scorer deluxe. I tried to get every rebound and block anything close to the basket. I tried my best to be an all-around player.
What current All-Star’s game most resembles the way you used to play?
Kevin Durant all day. Nobody effects his shot at all. Every time he goes up and shoots, you think it’s going to be good. Him, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson — that’s what people used to say about me. ‘Every time you pulled up, we thought it was good.’ I was the first jump shooter to win the field goal championship. I got the plaque at the house. I won it shooting jump shots.
Bill Russell, a 10-time champion said at the time that I was the best shooter he had ever seen in his life. Coming from him, that means something.