NBL alums snubbed by Hall

NBL, BAA, and others

Postby Jon Scott » Fri May 22, 2009 1:55 pm

Brian Gaynor wrote:At least twice in his NBL book, Murry Nelson comes out and scolds the Hall of Fame for excluding Leroy "Lefty (or Cowboy)" Edwards. I am paraphrasing Murry, but he calls it a tremendous and shameful oversight.

Jon, does the APBR have any pull with the Hall? (I ask this as a newbie.) At what stage is Edwards' application? Has anyone pushed the case for Edwards since that movement around 1980?


I talked with the head archivist at the Hall last fall concerning Edwards' nomination. It had fallen out of consideration but has passed through the 5-year dormant period and is eligible for reconsideration. When I talked to him, he indicated that the original submitter (Jack Maiden, some APBR old-timers remember him as MADKENTUCKY) did contact him and requested that the nomination be reconsidered, which it currently is.

There's a couple of problems though. For one, the package currently under consideration is the exact one that was submitted back in the late 80's without any additional updates. Most of which can be found on my Edwards website.

http://www.bigbluehistory.net/bb/Edwards/index.html

although for my part I've added a number of things to the website beyond what was in the original package (additional photos, additional quotations, additional newspaper and magazine articles, the in-depth discussion of the importance of the 1935 Kentucky-NYU game and Edwards' contribution to it, the in-depth discussion of the Edwards-Wooden high scoring race in the inaugural 1937-38 NBL season, the pro-timeline which lists specific boxscores and game information etc.) and I expect to continue to collect these types of things for a while. (including a couple of things I have in the works which I'm not ready to talk about right now.)

The archivist indicated that he was open to me sending additional information to add to the package that Hall of Fame already has, so for example I've talked with Prof Nelson and others requesting that whatever useful information they may have to please forward to me so it can be included.

Back to the problems, when I talked to the archivist, he was unaware, for example, how important Edwards was in terms of enacting of the 3-second rule. (something I was frankly surprised he didn't know about, which indicates to me the committee itself likely has no clue about either.)

Also, in the old-timers committee there's probably only one member who actually played against Edwards, and that was very late in Edwards' career. (In this case, this probably falls into line with some of the conjecture in this discussion about people remembering him as the short lumbering dinosaur relying more on brawn and a bag of tricks late in his career, rather than the spry dominant post man he was in his prime. I think in this case, his ability to continue to play in the league for so long, undersized though he was as the years went on, might actually be a hindrance since his late career is all some people remember him by.)

The other issue in my mind is that the HOF is simply not geared towards really trying to look too far back in time for players who were overlooked. Where there is a newly concerted push to try to amend this, the focus of that effort is really more on getting overlooked black players to be reconsidered.

That's a laudable and well-intentioned goal, and something I support. However the issue from my perspective is that it's problematic to push the induction of many of these black players from that era while Edwards (who from all indications was a dominant force against both black and white teams during that same time period) still sits on the outside looking in.

Put it another way, if there was another player from that era (black or white) who is not already recognized in some way by the HOF (the Celtics and Rens for example already are to a degree), then I would feel that individual should go in ahead of Edwards and support their induction in the hopes that Edwards would get a turn at some point in the future. But I honestly don't see anyone (again from that era) who is more deserving.

Ideally, I think the first step needs to be for Edwards to be inducted ASAP and hopefully that will open doors (rather than shut) into the consideration of other players from that era and beyond.

Jon

PS Before I talked with the archivist I had assumed that the nomination had probably fallen into limbo at some point. I was kind of hoping to resubmit a new package, hopefully with the support of a basketball insider (maybe someone from Kentucky like C.M. Newton etc.) who might have some pull with the committee.

As it is, I think the best thing at this point is to add to the existing package where possible. To that end, any information people might be able to provide is certainly appreciated. For example any boxscores of past games you might run across, any newspaper or magazine articles you might find, photographs, any quotes you might run across or might get when interviewing people from that era etc. are all potentially useful. Generally I've been using the Edwards website as a way for collecting and organizing information for the time being, although the intention is to get much of it included with his induction papers.
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Postby Keith Ellis » Sat May 23, 2009 12:26 am

Jon Scott wrote:... when I talked to the archivist, he was unaware, for example, how important Edwards was in terms of enacting of the 3-second rule. (something I was frankly surprised he didn't know about, which indicates to me the committee itself likely has no clue about either.)



Jon, not to quibble or downplay LeRoy, but don't most of the comments of that era regarding CowBoy & the pivot play center around his being victimized or "mauled" in the lane rather than possessing some special talent that had to be put under wraps? IIRC Dutch Dehnert said rulesmakers took away "his" pivot play (which he & the Celtics were credited, rightfully or not, w/ inventing) because of its effectiveness, but the Edwards-related comments don't speak to any special advantage he displayed in the middle by, for example, outscoring everyone else in the New York game. Rather, it would seem the play was eliminated because the East Coast referees refused to call fouls.

Mikan, Chamberlain, & Jabbar all faced rulesmakers widening the lane, outlawing offensive goaltending, or banning the dunk. The Edwards 3-second story seems to echo their tribulations, but for a different reason. If anything, the record indicates the 3-second rule was designed to help rather than hinder LeRoy's play, doesn't it?
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Postby Jon Scott » Sat May 23, 2009 12:47 am

Keith Ellis wrote:
Jon Scott wrote:... when I talked to the archivist, he was unaware, for example, how important Edwards was in terms of enacting of the 3-second rule. (something I was frankly surprised he didn't know about, which indicates to me the committee itself likely has no clue about either.)



Jon, not to quibble or downplay LeRoy, but don't most of the comments of that era regarding CowBoy & the pivot play center around his being victimized or "mauled" in the lane rather than possessing some special talent that had to be put under wraps? IIRC Dutch Dehnert said rulesmakers took away "his" pivot play (which he & the Celtics were credited, rightfully or not, w/ inventing) because of its effectiveness, but the Edwards-related comments don't speak to any special advantage he displayed in the middle by, for example, outscoring everyone else in the New York game. Rather, it would seem the play was eliminated because the East Coast referees refused to call fouls.

Mikan, Chamberlain, & Jabbar all faced rulesmakers widening the lane, outlawing offensive goaltending, or banning the dunk. The Edwards 3-second story seems to echo their tribulations, but for a different reason. If anything, the record indicates the 3-second rule was designed to help rather than hinder LeRoy's play, doesn't it?


You're correct in that unlike Mikan, Chamberlain & Jabbar the 3-second rule didn't necessarily aim to hinder Edwards (or other pivot men) except for the fact that the rule meant they couldn't set up camp directly under the basket.

As far as the referees calling fouls in the pivot, the rule really didn't stipulate that referees call the game any differently than they had done before. I think the reality was that the rule tried to clean up the game by making an end-around from the referees. (ie rather than force referees to call rough play in the pivot more closely, they tried to force the play away from the basket and to require more movement in order to try to clean up pivot play)

As it was, the Eastern referees, for whatever reason, seemed to be unwilling to call rough play under the basket. [while at the same time seemed more than willing to call fouls for screening (even when no contact occurred.)] From what I can gather from the articles written at the time, referees in other parts of the country didn't seem to have the same problem.

As far as that particular game, it is true that Edwards did not score a lot of points (in fact it was his career low at Kentucky, kind of ironic that his lowest scoring game proved to be his most influential.) On the other hand , observers of the game thought that if the game had been called as it should (ie if his defenders had been called for holding, hacking etc.) he would have scored much more.

Jon
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Postby Brian Gaynor » Fri May 29, 2009 7:55 am

Jon, in your package promoting Leroy Edwards for the Hall of Fame, I would:

-- Submit the contents of your excellent and evolving Web site. That is the primary source.

-- Submit Murry's book as Exhibit B. In it, Murry details the dominance of Edwards (but white-out the parts where Murry rips the Hall. :-)

-- Gather convincing quotes from former coaches and players. I would suggest contacting Carl Bennett in Fort Wayne and Frank Zummach in Sheboygan. Both are in the phone books of those cities. Those two coaches' teams went against Edwards numerous times — and during Cowboy's prime in the early '40s. Who better to add input than surviving coaches of two of the better teams?

It's a crowded field these days (international and women's stars) and much tougher to gain admittance to the Hall than when Andy Phillip, for instance, was inducted in one of the first classes. It was during those early classes that players such as Lefty Edwards and Bob McDermott should have been shoe-ins. But McDermott had to wait until 1988 (25 years after his death) and Edwards (38 years after his) is still waiting. ....
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Postby Brian Gaynor » Sun May 31, 2009 7:54 am

In line with the Bob McDermott slight for so many years, how could the Hall ignore Vern Mikkelsen until 1995? Now Vern missed by two seasons playing with the Minneapolis Lakers in the NBL, but I'd like to include him on this thread as an honorary NBL member because he was cut from NBL cloth: A hard-nosed son of a gun.

Mikkelsen retired as one of the top scorers in NBA history and, of course, had the ironman streak for which he was known. On top of it, he was accorded the designation of the game's first power forward. Now I will admit bias, as I think the world of Vern; he is one of the nicest men on the planet. But. ...

It just goes to show how severely the old-timers were punished for being, uh, old-timers. And his coach, John Kundla, had to wait all of those years, too. Man, that must have irked George Mikan. ...
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Postby Brian Gaynor » Tue Jun 02, 2009 6:44 am

You know, maybe it is not so surprising that Bobby McDermott had to wait until 1988 for induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. His exploits on the court cannot be discounted, as he likely was the greatest shooter of the pre-shot clock era. But off the court was another story:

-- Despite his brilliance in Fort Wayne, McDermott earned a ticket out of town after fighting with Milo Komenich on the team train in late 1946, I believe. It was the last straw for general manager Carl Bennett, who once told me that he had looked the other way again and again. That's how Mac wound up with the Chicago American Gears.

-- After leaving the Gears, he landed in Sheboygan in November 1947 as the PBLA-folded Gears were farmed out to NBL teams. He quickly found himself in coach Doxie Moore's doghouse and was sent to Tri-Cities after only 16 games with the Red Skins.

-- At age 36, with the NPBL's Grand Rapids Hornets in 1950-51, he made headlines again. He was dismissed after only five games for "conduct unbecoming a player or coach." The NPBL took note of his obscenity-laced tirade and gave him the boot. It appears that Grand Rapids was Bobby Mac's last stop in a nearly 20-year professional basketball career (he quit high school after one year and went pro). The day before McDermott was dismissed, he was one of three Grand Rapids players injured in a car crash. I don't know the particulars of the accident or whether there was a connection between the crash and his dismissal.

So, it starts to add up why the great McDermott was rejected by the Hall for so many years. ...
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Postby Mike Goodman » Wed Jun 03, 2009 2:59 am

All these years later, he was a 'colorful character'. Playing today, he'd be another example of what's so bad about the modern game.
`
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Postby mcmehr71@yahoo.com » Tue Nov 03, 2009 10:40 pm

your so right about the NBL-shipp -edwards-wooden-dancker-glamack-armstrong or bush dont belong on any all time teams.What happened in the hall was les harrison holman and a few others had williams in high chair and said this is whats going down.They had a vote in brooklyn in 1982 mcdermott winning by a landslide by former fans and players of his era think about this most of them never saw him play for ft wayne but brooklyn and the celtics.Edwards is long over due shipp was all pro ten times. good to read your quotes ps lon darling before zollner or harrison the two who broke up the gears from returning
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leroy edwards

Postby bblefty21 » Wed Jan 13, 2010 4:50 pm

Hello,

I am glad i found this site and to be part of it. My name is Brian, and I am the great grandson of Leroy Edwards.(My mother's side). I really enjoy to see all the great discussions about him on the site. My grandfather (Leroy's son) recently did an interview for a possible cable special featuring Leroy Lefty Edwards and his basketball career. If anyone would like to email me or give me any information they might have about Leroy Edwards I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you all!

Brian
Last edited by bblefty21 on Sat Nov 22, 2014 9:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: NBL alums snubbed by Hall

Postby bblefty21 » Sun May 22, 2011 3:48 am

Quick update- Leroy Edwards was talked about and interviewed about in the new Kareem Abdul Jabbar documentary recently released "on the shoulders of giants".
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Re: NBL alums snubbed by Hall

Postby Jon Scott » Mon May 23, 2011 2:49 am

bblefty21 wrote:Quick update- Leroy Edwards was talked about and interviewed about in the new Kareem Abdul Jabbar documentary recently released "on the shoulders of giants".


Unfortunately, they didn't mention Edwards by name or talk about him individually, which I must say I was disappointed in. I know that a least one set of producers of the film (not the last ones) spent a lot of time looking into Edwards, and got good information from not only Edwards' son, but also John Wooden and John Isaacs. It's a shame that much of this never made the final cut. I had talked to Isaacs before about Edwards but was most interested in what Wooden had to say, since they were big rivals in terms of scoring etc. in the 1930's.

I also found it kind of strange in part of the film where they state the the Rens were barred by the NBL from entering the league. That may well be true, although I have never seen direct evidence of this. (and notably nowhere in the film is it acknowledged that the NBL did indeed have integrated teams, in particular the Chicago Studebakers; instead the film incorrectly claims pro basketball wasn't integrated until 1950.). What's strange to me is that when the claim is made, in the background is shown what is clearly a player contract between LeRoy Edwards and the Oshkosh All-Stars, which obviously is completely irrelevant to the claim being made.

I must say those kind of things bother me in documentaries, where visuals are shown in the background which to many casual viewers seem to back-up what's being claimed at the time (whether they specifically claim it or subliminally), when in reality they do no such thing.

Jon
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Re: NBL alums snubbed by Hall

Postby bblefty21 » Mon May 23, 2011 3:38 am

I had seen the documentary in a private screening in Chicago so I am not sure if a different cut was ultimately released. I did however mention to Kareem who I was and immediately knew about Edwards.
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Re: NBL alums snubbed by Hall

Postby ramram » Mon May 23, 2011 3:07 pm

I know Hank Williams played for Buffalo in the NBL in the late 1930's. Was this the first integrated team in the NBL/NBA? Were there other integrated teams before the 1942/1943 season?

Rob M.
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Re: NBL alums snubbed by Hall

Postby bblefty21 » Sat Nov 22, 2014 9:57 pm

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