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Bob Boozer : biography

April 26, 1937 - May 19, 2012

Robert Louis "Bob" Boozer (April 26, 1937 – May 19, 2012) was an American professional basketball player in the National Basketball Association (NBA). He won a gold medal in the 1960 Summer Olympics and won an NBA Championship as a member of the Milwaukee Bucks in 1971.

Early years

Boozer was born and raised in North Omaha, Nebraska, and graduated from Tech High in Omaha. One of his teammates was future Baseball Hall-of-Famer Bob Gibson.http://retrosimba.com/2012/05/23/bob-gibson-bob-boozer-mutual-champs-of-omaha/ He attended Kansas State University, where he helped lead the Wildcats to the 1958 Final Four and where he received All-America honors in 1958 and 1959. A versatile 6’ 8” forward, he was selected by the Cincinnati Royals with the first non-territorial pick of the 1959 NBA Draft, but he postponed his NBA career for one year so that he could remain eligible to play in the 1960 Summer Olympics. During that year he played with the Peoria Caterpillars, where he won the National AAU Tournament title and earned MVP honors for the tournament.

He won a gold medal with the Olympic team after they won eight games by an average of 42.4 points. The team was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010.

NBA career

In the fall of 1960, Boozer joined the Royals with Olympic teammate Oscar Robertson. As a rookie, Boozer contributed 8.4 points and 6.2 rebounds in a reserve role. The following season, he earned a spot in the Royals’ starting lineup and averaged 13.7 points and 10.2 rebounds. Boozer continued to improve, averaging 14.3 points and 11.1 rebounds during the 1962–1963 season, but the emergence of forward Jerry Lucas, a future Hall-of-Famer, soon pushed Boozer out of the Royals' long-term plans. Boozer's contract was sold to the New York Knicks in the middle of the 1963–64 season, and he spent the next 1½ seasons in New York. Though Boozer was a productive player with the Knicks, he was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers in 1965.

After one season in Los Angeles, where he played a supporting role amid players like Jerry West and Elgin Baylor, Boozer was selected by the Chicago Bulls in the 1966 NBA Expansion draft. Boozer flourished in his first year with Chicago, averaging 18.0 points and 8.5 rebounds and leading the young franchise into the playoffs. The following year, he averaged 21.5 points and 9.8 rebounds and became the third Bull to appear in the NBA All-Star Game (after Guy Rodgers and Jerry Sloan). During the 1968–1969 season, Boozer averaged a career-high 21.7 points per game, but the Bulls failed to make the playoffs, and Boozer was soon traded to the Seattle SuperSonics. He spent one productive season with the Sonics and then joined the Milwaukee Bucks and won an NBA championship with the team in 1971. He retired after that season. He ended his career with 12,964 total points and 7,119 total rebounds.

Later years

Boozer returned to Omaha after his career ended, and worked as an executive for the Bell Systems. He was later appointed to the Nebraska Parole Board and volunteered at Boys Town, the home for troubled youth.

Bob Boozer Drive is a street named in his honor in his native Omaha.

Boozer died due to a brain aneurysm in Omaha, Nebraska on May 19, 2012. He was 75.

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