July 11, 2018
**This information is courtesy of a book called Tall Tales by Terry Pluto, about the early days of the NBA. Statements in this post come from players of that era such as Tom Gola, Larry Costello, Bob Ferry, and Alex Hannum. To see his complete statistics, visit Basketball Reference.
Dolph Schayes was a 6-8, 220 lb. forward for the old Syracuse Nats in the 1950’s. A Hall of Fame player who was in the Top 10 in both scoring and rebounding in each of his first twelve years in the game, finishing with with career averages of 18 PPG and 12 RPG in his sixteen seasons. His career began in 1949-50 and concluded in 1963-1964 with the Philadelphia 76ers, one year after they moved from Syracuse.
Schayes was always in motion, never standing still without the ball, driving defenders crazy. He possessed a very good shot from 25-30 feet from the basket, well before the 3-point shot was created, never hesitating to use it. In today’s game, he could easily have added five points per game to his totals. He had long, two-handed set shots, but he could shoot running one-handers with either hand. He could get his hand on a rebound, tip it to an open area, and then run the ball down, according to player and coach Alex Hannum.
Schayes was a center in college who learned to play outside. He had a very good work ethic and stayed after practice: running, shooting, and dribbling. What made him a great player was his relentless style, all effort. He had great focus and he loved to practice. It also comes back to his constant motion on the court without the ball. Costello said he was a studied player, as if he thought of every move before he made it.
The player he compares with most is Larry Bird. He was Larry Bird before Larry Bird, some say. Both were big men with tremendous shooting range and they were very similar, except Bird was a better passer. However, Schayes was a better passer than people thought. Both were self-made players and both were great rebounders who could not jump; in fact, Schayes could not dunk a basketball. Both had great range on their shots and were able to shoot off the run with either hand.
Schayes was a star in two different NBA eras: the slow pace before the shot clock and the 24-second clock era that began in 1954-55, the faster game with increased offense. His point-per-game average in his first five years would have been a few points higher had he played with a shot clock.
Most people remember Bird, but more should remember Dolph Schayes.