Where are they now? Billy Paultz

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Where are they now? Billy Paultz

Postby rlee » Tue Dec 21, 2010 4:22 pm

Where are they now? Billy Paultz of River Edge

The Record

Their legs dangled precariously over the ledge, three stories above Rucker Park.

Fans needed to see, even if it meant sitting on the roof of Public School 156. There was no room below, where others hung from tree limbs or spilled onto the court, crowding the sidelines and the players.

Billy Paultz was one of those players, a teammate of Julius Erving and an opponent of street-ball legends such as Joe "The Destroyer" Hammond and Pee Wee Kirkland.

It was on asphalt courts like the Rucker in Harlem, those hallowed playgrounds of New York City, where the River Edge native became a basketball player.

"There were no rules and no refs," Paultz said of his college days on the playgrounds. "If you did something wrong, you got an elbow to the head. You had to defend yourself – sometimes verbally, sometimes physically and sometimes through better basketball skills.

"It was a whole new world coming from northern New Jersey."

But that world led to the ABA. Then the NBA.

Paultz would play 15 professional seasons, and his teams made the playoffs each year. The 6-foot-11 center was selected to the ABA’s All-Time Team in 1997 after three All-Star appearances and a 1974 championship with the New York Nets.

Not bad for a kid from River Dell High School who didn’t play until he was a senior in 1966.

"He’s one of my favorite people," said Lou Carnesecca, Paultz’s coach at St. John’s and then the Nets. "When he comes into a room, he lights it up. As a player, every year he improved, and every year his teams made the playoffs. What more can you say about him?"

Paultz, 62, is a sales representative in Texas for an LED light company, having retired from the NBA in 1985. But he’s hardly been forgotten, having become sort of an ABA icon.

There’s a sports blog named in his honor, Billy Paultz Reconsidered, on Lancasteronline.com. And Paultz, who averaged 15.2 points and 10.4 rebounds in his first eight seasons – six in the ABA and two in the NBA – is a frequent topic of nostalgia on ABA fan websites. He’s recalled as a beloved big man with a jumper, who also could defend.

Need an iconic image of Paultz?

His block on Larry Bird in the 1981 NBA Finals has become part of a YouTube montage dedicated to him.

You want a nickname?

Try "The Whopper," so named because of Paultz’s size (250-plus pounds) and his propensity to put away burgers of the same name.

Need a sense of humor?

Mired in a shooting slump in 1972, he said, "Things are never as bad as they seem. At least I’m hitting 50 percent of my dunks."

How about street cred?

Paultz played in "the greatest playground game ever" in 1970, when Erving, Paultz and other pros faced Hammond and other playground legends at Rucker. The pros won in double overtime despite Hammond putting 50 on Dr. J, according to Harlem lore.

But it all began at River Dell, where the son of 6-foot-5 Bill Paultz Sr. – who occasionally sang the national anthem before Nets’ games – decided to play basketball. He averaged 10 points a game in his lone high school season.

Mickey Corcoran was the River Dell coach until Paultz was a senior. He asked Paultz years later what took him so long to play.

"He said, ‘Coach, I was scared stiff of you,’ " Corcoran said.

Paultz said he doesn’t remember that conversation. But he remembers moving on to Cameron Junior College in Oklahoma, then to St. John’s. That’s when he began playing on courts like Rucker.

"Sometimes you felt lucky to get out of there alive," said Paultz, who lives in Seabrook, Texas, with his wife, Diane.

After averaging 15.8 points and 13.4 rebounds in his second season at St. John’s, Paultz was drafted by the NBA and ABA. He signed with the ABA’s Virginia Squires, who traded him to the Nets, where Carnesecca continued to develop the raw center.

Paultz played five years in New York before being traded to San Antonio. Then came the NBA-ABA merger, and seasons with the Spurs, Houston, Atlanta and Utah.

"My family was across the George Washington Bridge," Paultz said of his Nets’ days. "I would get more nervous about [my father singing] the national anthem than playing. And I’m sure he was more worried about me screwing up on the court.
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Re: Where are they now? Billy Paultz

Postby meej » Tue Dec 21, 2010 7:34 pm

rlee wrote:His block on Larry Bird in the 1981 NBA Finals has become part of a YouTube montage dedicated to him.

I guess these are my 15 minutes of fame.
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Postby Mike Goodman » Tue Dec 21, 2010 7:49 pm

Hey, Paultz led the ABA in blocks in 1976, and was 3 times an AllStar there.

Only 11 players have more recorded points, rebounds, assists, and blocks than Paultz, NBA + ABA regular season: Kareem, Erving, Garnett, Divac, Duncan, Olajuwon, Gilmore, Shaq, Robinson, Hayes, and Ewing.
They all played more minutes.
http://www.basketball-reference.com/pla ... i?id=iHzWf
36% of all statistics are wrong
Mike Goodman
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