As TBCB begins to prepare the 1953-54 NBA season summary, we set the stage by sharing related facts, stories, and highlights. Today we highlight three future stars who were born in 1953: Robert Parish, Jamaal Wilkes, and World B. Free.
1953 produced a number of well-known future NBA stars who would later spend their most impressionable young years being influenced by the Celtics' dynasty of Bill Russell, Bob Cousy, and Tom Heinsohn. Of the 62 future NBA and ABA players born in 1953, the three men who finished their careers at the top of the list for career points scored each had well-known nicknames and on-court personas.
The man at the top of this list is Robert "The Chief" Parish, who finished his 21 year career with over 23 thousand points and 14 thousand rebounds. Known for being the strong silent type, Parish was given the name Chief, which referred to Chief Bromden, the character who narrates One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.
Lloyd B. Free, better known as World B. Free or All-World, was a high-flying scoring machine, who finished his 13 year professional career with 17,955 points. Free was given the nickname "All World" on the Brooklyn playgrounds, where he used his 44 inch vertical leap to score and entertain with highlight-reel dunks.
Jamaal Wilkes finished his career with 14,644 points and left a legacy of championships. In college, he teamed up with Bill Walton at UCLA to win the 1972 and 1973 NCAA tournaments. Then, in his first NBA season, Wilkes helped lead the Golden State Warriors to the 1975 NBA title. Two years later he joined the Los Angeles Lakers, where he won three more NBA championships along with Kareem Abdul Jabbar and Magic Johnson. His nickname, Silk, referred to his smooth-as-silk jumper, which Chuck Hearn called a "20 foot layup."
The Chief and Silk are both members of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.