Bob McAdoo enjoys looking back on his playing career, especially the five seasons he spent with the Buffalo Braves. And for good reason.
In 14 seasons in the NBA, the 6-foot-9 forward won two championship rings, was named rookie of the year in 1972-73, named NBA MVP in 1974-75, was five All-Star times and won three consecutive victories. rating titles (1973-76). He also dominated the NBA in field goal percentage (54.7%) in 1973-74 despite most of his damage as a vault shooter.
Awesome CV, right?
So why the Hall of Famer and recently named a member of the NBA’s 75e The birthday team feels he doesn’t have the props he deserves?
Let him explain himself.
Editor’s Note: The following conversation has been condensed and edited.
NBA.com: You’ve averaged 22.1 points and 9.4 rebounds over your 14-year NBA career. How would you fare in today’s game?
McAdoo: I think my game would have been perfect for today. Heard a lot of people say of all the old folks, Bob McAdoo’s game would have translated better than anyone because he was doing what [Kevin] Durant does now. I see these guys playing now, and they think it’s so phenomenal, and it is, but they realized it was done before them. I see Luka Doncic and Durant. I saw Dirk Nowitzki. I see all these fat guys shooting and I’m like hmmm, that favors what I did in the 1970s.
What are the biggest differences you’ve noticed since playing compared to now?
Now they have the private jets they can get out of town right after the game. We had to get up at 4 or 5 in the morning to catch a commercial jet. We had to take our own uniforms and shoes. These guys have nothing to take. The only thing they have to bring is their game. Besides, the money is different. These guys don’t have to fight for contracts. They’re giving guys an average of five points per game for $ 50 million. It’s crazy.
When the NBA turns 50e Anniversary team announced, some fans felt like you were being snubbed. Do you agree?
I was upset that I didn’t participate. My oldest son pointed out that I was the only MVP and the only champion to fail. Like, wow… that’s messed up.
Congratulations on being named one of the NBA’s 75se Anniversary team, however. It is quite an honor.
I’m glad I lived another 25 years to see it!
You could score with the best of them, especially in Buffalo where you’ve averaged over 30 points three times in five seasons.
I was a one-time MVP, but very easily could have been an MVP three times and no one is talking about it. All these players they put in front of me, it makes me want to laugh. If I had only played my career in Buffalo, those five years – how could they have kept me from being among the top 10 players of all time? Look what my numbers would have been.
After your NBA career ended, you spent six very successful years in Italy where you won every prize imaginable.
My time in Italy was one of the most enjoyable basketball years of my life. My last two years in the NBA, they didn’t do my best because they didn’t play me well in terms of my role and my playing time. In Italy, I was one of the most big stars.
Who were the best players you’ve ever had as teammates?
Karim [Abdul-Jabbar], sure. Magic Johnson. Moses Malone. Jules Erving. Charles Barkley. Randy Smith in Buffalo. Walt Frazier and Earl Monroe were nearing the end of their careers, but I have to congratulate them because they were great players.
Who is the best player you’ve played against?
Kareem was the best. Rick Barry was a monster. The Pete Maravich pistol was good. Michael Jordan had not yet become Jordan when I played against him.
Who do you like to watch now?
Right now, I love Kevin Durant. I love LeBron James. I love Stephen Curry.
You had the honor of playing for some of the best coaches in basketball history. What were your favorites and what did you learn from them?
Pat Riley is a master of tasks. He brought us together in Los Angeles. He came to Miami and changed the whole culture here. His first day, remember I came with him as a coach his first year. He’s changed the whole culture and that’s how he is every year he’s here. He expected perfection. And the conditioning. What I learned from Pat was how to deal with 12-15 egos. Especially with our Lakers and Heat teams. James Worthy, Michael Cooper, Norm Nixon, Jamaal Wilkes – we had a bunch of players in Los Angeles.
In Buffalo, I had Dr. Jack Ramsay who was also in physical conditioning. My college coach was Dean Smith in North Carolina. So I had coaches who were big on conditioning. When I got to Pat, a lot of players couldn’t take it. I didn’t have a problem with that. I had Red Holzman in New York with Willis Reed. In Boston I had KC Jones, Larry Brown was a coach when I was in New Jersey. I learned the intensity from Riley and Ramsay. I learned the calmness from Dean Smith. Close match, 10 seconds to go, Dean was so calm on the sidelines.
How would you best describe your game?
I was a goalscorer. I was a luxury goalscorer. I tried to grab every bounce and block anything near the basket. I did my best to be a complete player.
Which current All-Star game most closely resembles the way you played before?
Kevin Throughout the day. Nobody affects his shot at all. Every time he goes up and shoots you think it’s gonna be good. Him, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson – that’s what people said about me. “Every time you pulled over we thought it was good. “I was the first vault shooter to win the field goal championship. I had the plaque at home. I won it by shooting jump shots.
10-time champion Bill Russell said at the time that I was the best shooter he had ever seen in his life. Coming from him, that means something.