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Hall Pass – Guy Rodgers

by GSWStats

The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2014, which will be immortalized in Springfield, Mass. on Friday, features four players with ties to the Warriors—Alvin Attles, Sarunas Marciulionis, Mitch Richmond and Guy Rodgers. We’ll take a look at a few notes and numbers that helped lead to their induction to the Hall, courtesy of @GSWStats.

Next up is Guy Rodgers, a Direct Elect to this year’s Hall of Fame who spent eight seasons with the Philadelphia/San Francisco Warriors from 1958-66.

With 4,855 assists as a Warrior, Rodgers has been atop the franchise’s all-time assist leaderboard for over 50 years. For comparison’s sake, Stephen Curry ranks eighth in team history with 2,247 assists through five seasons. So far, Tim Hardaway is the only player to have crept within 1,000 helpers of Rodgers, and Hardaway is the only player to have posted a better assist per game mark (9.3) than Rodgers’ 8.3 dishes per game. After eight seasons with the Warriors, Rodgers spent another four seasons playing with the Chicago Bulls, Cincinnati Royals and Milwaukee Bucks, amassing a career total of 6,917 assists, a number that trailed only Oscar Robertson and Bob Cousy at the time of his retirement and still ranks as the 16th most in NBA history.

1 Guy Rodgers 4855
2 Tim Hardaway 3926
3 Rick Barry 3247
4 Chris Mullin 3146
5 Jeff Mullins 2913

Over a 15-year stretch from 1952-53 to 1966-67, only three players led the league in assists: Bob Cousy, Oscar Robertson and Rodgers. Not bad company for the Temple alum, who led the league twice in that span. In the Warriors’ first year on the West Coast in 1962-63, Rodgers paced the NBA with a club-record 825 assists (10.4 per game), still the last time a Warrior has led the league in the category. He broke his own team record in 1965-66 with 846 assists, a mark that stood for over 20 years until Sleepy Floyd bested it by two (848) in the 1986-87 season (Rodgers’ 10.7 assists per game that season remain a club record). Rodgers found himself atop the league again in 1966-67 with the expansion Bulls, dishing a then-NBA record 908 assists, which is still the Bulls single-season watermark. If he wasn’t leading the league, he was never far behind—Rodgers finished either No. 1 or No. 2 in assists in eight consecutive seasons (seven with the Warriors) from 1959-60 to 1966-67.

On March 14, 1963, Rodgers tied Bob Cousy’s single-game NBA record with 28 assists against the St. Louis Hawks. To put that in perspective, the Warriors—as a team—dished out 28-or-more assists only 14 times last season. Rodgers out-assisted the Hawks by himself, 28-24, in the contest, dishing on 61 percent of the Warriors’ field goals (28-of-46). Combined with his own 14 points, he had a hand in 70 of the team’s 109 points. The single-game mark stood for nearly 15 years until Kevin Porter’s 29-assist performance in 1978, and has been passed only one other time since (Scott Skiles’ now-record 30 assists), remaining a Warriors franchise best. And yet, this is not his most memorable 20-assist game. That came just over a year earlier, on March 2, 1962, when his 20 assists helped the Warriors score a franchise-record 169 points, including an even 100 from Wilt Chamberlain.

30 Scott Skiles Orlando Magic December 30, 1990 vs. Denver Nuggets
29 Kevin Porter New Jersey Nets February 24, 1978 vs. Houston Rockets
28 Bob Cousy Boston Celtics February 27, 1959 vs. Minneapolis Lakers
28 Guy Rodgers San Francisco Warriors March 14, 1963 vs. St. Louis Hawks
28 John Stockton Utah Jazz January 15, 1991 vs. San Antonio Spurs

There’s no question Rodgers was one of game’s best distributors, but the 6-foot playmaker grabbed his share of rebounds as well, leading to a club-record eight triple-doubles over his Warriors career. He averaged at least 10 points, seven assists and four rebounds in six of his eight seasons with the team, which has seen a player post those minimums over the course of a season only eight other times in franchise history. Leaguewide, only seven players have averaged at least 10 points, seven assists and four rebounds over an entire career: Bob Cousy, Oscar Robertson, Norm Van Lier, Micheal Ray Richardson, Magic Johnson, Jason Kidd and Rodgers.

1 Guy Rodgers 6
2 Baron Davis 3
3 Stephen Curry 1
4 Sleepy Floyd 1
5 Tim Hardaway 1
6 Andy Phillip 1
7 Michael Ray Richardson 1

The numbers are certainly on the side of the four-time All-Star, so why has it taken this long for Rodgers to earn his posthumous honor to the Hall? Many point to Bob Cousy’s dominance at the position for the Celtics dynasty of the ‘60s as the main reason Rodgers has been overlooked, as well as the fact that he played in an era before games were televised. Because many fans and media members never saw him for themselves, testimony of those who played with and against him tells more about Rodgers than any of his numbers. Here’s a brief sampling of praise over the years:

AL ATTLES, Warriors teammate: "He was a player who could do a little bit of everything on the court, including his ability to score, pass and defend. He was a well-rounded player, a great teammate and of course was part of the original Warriors team that moved West to the Bay Area from Philadelphia in 1962… I don’t know if Guy was the best point guard or playmaker, but I don’t know who was any better.”

RICK BARRY, Warriors teammate: “He was a heck of a ball handler and passer. I figured out if I can run and get open, he loves to gets assists and I’m going to get a lot of baskets. And that’s exactly what happened. Guy played the position the way most point guards played then. Not a scoring point guard that has come into vogue. He was the guy out there to get assists. That was his job, to get easy opportunities for teammates.”

WILT CHAMBERLAIN, Warriors teammate: “I always thought Guy Rodgers was the best ball-handler I ever saw—better than Cousy or Jerry West or Oscar Robertson or Walt Frazier or Peter Maravich or anyone.”

JON MCGLOCLKIN, Bucks teammate: “Guy Rodgers was the greatest passer I ever saw. He’s the greatest passer ever. He had a year or two on San Francisco, where he was an outstanding scorer and passer, which was amazing because scoring was not his great skill. But I have never seen a guy who could throw passes on the dime in unique and creative ways.”

CHET WALKER, former Bulls & 76ers forward: “He was a great player, maybe better than Cousy. He never got his proper due.”

OSCAR ROBERTSON, Royals teammate: “He did a great job for many, many years. Handled the ball well. He should be in the Hall of Fame. Excellent leader.”

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