The NBA celebrates NBA 75 roster players almost daily from now until the end of the season. Today’s honoree is Philadelphia Warriors star Paul Arizin, nicknamed “Pitchin ‘Paul” for his unique jump shot. This story about Arizin, after scoring his 10,000 point in the NBA, originally appeared in the February 18, 1959 issue of The Sporting News.
PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania. – For Paul Arizin, December 29, 1958, began like any other workday for one of the four-goal athletes who make a living playing for the National Basketball Association.
But given that Arizin, the high-scoring forward for the Philadelphia Warriors, is one of the best basketball players in the world, the events of the day were far from ordinary. In fact, they were of such importance that they increased the stature of his post.
Arizin was initially notified of his selection to play in the NBA’s annual East-West All-Star Game in Detroit on January 23. Pitchin ‘Paul has been named to the East team in each of his seven professional baseball seasons. But it was later in the day that Arizin credited his legions of fans’ belief that he belongs in whatever niche reserved for the all-time greats of Dr. Naismith’s game.
Early in a contest against the Minneapolis Lakers at the Kiel Auditorium, St. Louis, the Warriors’ most prolific shooter scored the 10,000th point of his illustrious career.
Fifth 10-Great Member
Only four other men reached this plateau before Arizin. George Mikan, “Mr. Basketball” from Minneapolis, was the first. Then came Dolph Schayes, Syracuse; Ed Macauley, Boston and St. Louis, and then Bob Cousy, Boston.
A powerful exclusive club packed with the power, balance and competition found only in the greats.
And Arizin’s credentials for membership are as valid, if not more so, as the claims of any of its predecessors.
The former Villanova University All-American reached 10,000 in less playing time than anyone else – the 30th game of his seventh season. Mikan reached the total in the final games of his seventh year, while Macauley and Cousy took eight seasons. And Schayes, whose 12,465 points tallied before this season’s opener is the largest total ever, had to wait until his ninth season.
On top of that, Arizin’s average per game for the 444 games it took him to reach the magic number was 22.56, just a shadow below Mikan’s league record of 22.62 for players who have scored a minimum of 8,000 points. .
And the most rabid fans of Philadelphia’s number one basketball model boy will do the best for you. They are quick to mention that had it not been for a two-year hitch in the Marine Corps, Pitchin ‘Paul would be ahead of Schayes in his career scoring column.
Averaging 23.8 points per game out of the 138 he played during the 1951-52 season, the one before he joined the service, and in the 54-55 season, the season in which he returned, Paul’s supporters estimate that there would have been been fine for 3,380. points in those two years. Adding these hypothetical 3,380 to its 9,271 reais presents a figure of 12,651.
But whether he’s the all-time top scorer or second or fifth, Arizin is at that level achieved only by a few who are really great.
On the court, the 6-4, 210 pounds is a fierce competitor looking for one thing: victory. Outside of the hardwood, the “Leaper” is a quiet, erudite-looking individual who rarely ventures an opinion unless asked, and also spends most of his travel time between games reading paperback novels, solving crossword puzzles. or trying to catch an additional 40 winks.
Arizin’s actions in trading throughout his seven years of NBA combat have been, and continue to be, his jump shot. Most fans believe that Paul took the most familiar shot of all in today’s game after seeing the success of Jumpin ‘Joe Fulks, the Warriors’ starting scorer master who still owns the total of 63 points in a game of the professional league. But Arizin vetoes it.
Slippery floor so he jumped
“When I started playing basketball in 1946,” Arizin recalled, “our team, St. Monica’s in the independent Catholic League, played on a narrow floor that was also used for dances.
“They waxed the floor and it was terribly slippery, and when I tried to throw a hook from the pivot or drive, I would slip. So one day I started jumping and shooting. I did not slip and was having success with the shots. You see, it was more a matter of convenience than anything else. “
It was in 1946 that Arizin graduated from LaSalle High School, which is on the same campus as LaSalle College.
So how come LaSalle College didn’t hold on to this grand future of court? Well, Arizin never played basketball in high school. He didn’t take the game seriously until his senior year, and then the only game he did was with independent teams, where so many players have been discovered in this city.
“I think he was playing with four or five teams,” Paul said. “It seemed like he had a different uniform every night of the week. I was voted MVP in a city tournament towards the end of the season, but still, I never gave the game too much thought. “
In the fall of 1946, Arizin enrolled at Villanova as a chemistry student and was paying the freight. But that quickly changed.
Paul continued to play for sandlot teams. His scoring exploits became synonymous with the city. A team that kept it below 30 points had a chance to win, but that was not often.
Eddie Gottlieb, who would later become his employer, learned about Arizin through a friend, Hank Grosser, who was the coordinator of several independent leagues.
File “Other Fulks”
“Hank (Grosser) called me one day,” Gottlieb recounted, “and said, ‘Eddie, there’s another Joe Fulks playing in South Philadelphia.’
“Naturally, he was interested. He was still running the Sphas, a team he had in the old American League before the start of the NBA, and they needed players.
“But before I could talk to Paul, Al Severance, the Villanova coach, found out from this student at his school that he was better than any player he had on his team. Al asked me not to sign any kind of contract with Paul … so I fired him. I thought if he stayed at Villanova and it turned out to be good, and how did he do it! – I’d take it, anyway. And I did it.”
But Villanova almost let Arizin escape.
“Several other schools, Temple was one of them,” Arizin said, “I was offered scholarships before Villanova and I was ready to transfer. I thought my parents could save all the money they were paying to educate me.
“But I decided to stay at Villanova. However, I changed course, despite the pleas of some of the Augustinian fathers, who were very happy with my progress in chemistry.
“I thought it would be very difficult, however, to go through the chemistry course with all its labs and late classes, while playing basketball as well, so I switched to accounting school.
“Because of this. I didn’t graduate with my original class. I got my diploma in February 1952, my sophomore year with the Warriors. I had to complete my hours on days off and summers.”
– NBA (@NBA) October 20, 2023
College Point Leader
Arizin’s feats as a collegiate were no different from what he accomplished in independent games.
In his senior year, he won All-American honors on the same team with Bob Cousy, the brilliant Boston court wizard, who was attending Holy Cross at the time. Arizin scored 705 points that season to lead the top college scorers.
Gottlieb caught him in the first round of the NBA draft.
“I never thought of any other player as my first pick,” Gottlieb said. “Some people were telling me to pick Larry Foust, who graduated from La Salle the same season. They said Paul wasn’t strong enough and his bad breathing condition would hamper him through the long professional season, while Foust was 6-10 and very strong. I would have loved to have them both, but I’m satisfied with Paul. “
Arizin was proven wrong by those who pointed to his shortness of breath, which was originally believed to be asthma, as a disability.
“It’s kind of congestion in my sinuses,” explained the Philadelphia star. “When I’m running and I’m not getting the right amount of oxygen, it’s the only time it bothers me.”
Paul wasted no time establishing himself as a great player. In his rookie season he scored 1,121 points to finish sixth in the NBA and in his second season Arizin ended Mikan’s three-year reign as scoring champion by scoring 1,674 points to the star Laker’s 1,523.
Repeated in ’56 -57
This was the first of his two titles. In 1956-57, the Warrior finished on top with 1,817 points.
The 30-year-old athlete, who is married to the former Maureen McAdam and the father of three, is now enjoying his best season in many ways.
He is highly unlikely to win the scoring title, as St. Louis’ talented Bob Pettit is setting a scorching pace, but Paul will likely finish runner-up averaging 25 points per game.
This has also been a very tough season for Arizin. Since Warriors center Neil Johnston has been sidelined with a badly damaged left knee, opponents have been able to focus their defense primarily on Paul.
But he is surviving very well. In fact, his 42 points on Nov. 9 against Cincinnati marked his all-time professional record. He was under 20 points only nine times in the first 50 games and hit 30 or more 11 times.
So to ham and eggs, bread and butter, and Yankees and pennants, they can now add Arizin and points. They sure go together.