"Bob Pettit was the heart and soul of the St. Louis Hawks during early NBA basketball," recalls basketball historian John R Balazs. "A hard-worker during practice as well as during games. Thousands of basketball fans would sit by their television sets and watch as Pettit dominated other top forwards of this era. The success of the St Louis Hawks depended mainly on Bob Pettit."
Bob Pettit was voted NBA Rookie of the Year in 1954-1955 while playing with the Milwaukee Hawks and went with the team when it moved to St. Louis the next season. He was chosen a NBA First Team All-Star every season from his first through his 10th - 1954-55 thru 1963-64. Only in his last season, 1964-65, was he selected for the Second Team All-Star. He was a two-time NBA MVP, 1955-56 and 1958-59 and a three-time NBA All-Star MVP, 1956, 1958 and 1959.
In his sophomore NBA season, 1955-1956, Bob Pettit was voted the NBA's Most Valuable Player when he led the league in points with 1,849, led in points per game with 25.7, led in FGM with 646 and led in FGA with 1507. He also led in the following categories - 557 FTM, 757 FGA, and in total rebounds with 1164.
The next season, 1956-57 he again led all NBA players with 613 FGM and with 1477 FGA. In 1958-1959 Bob Pettit again was chosen the MVP of the NBA when he led all players with 2105 points, 719 field goals made and with a robust 29.2 points per game.
Bob Pettit was one of those hard-working, American-born workers that filled the country in the decade after World War II. He out-hustled and out-manuvered opposing players and led the St Louis Hawks to the NBA postseason playoffs in 9-of-10 seasons. He scored 2,240 points, and pulled down 1304 rebounds in 88 playoff games, averaging 25.5 ppg and 14.8 rpg.
In the 1957-58 NBA Championship Finals with the St Louis Hawks up 3-games-to 2 in a best of 7-games Series over the last season champs, the Bill Russell led Boston Celtics, Bob Pettit scored a then playoff record 50 points to led the Hawks to a 110-109 win and Champion Crown. 'The Sporting News' then wrote - "Bob Pettit performed one of the greatest feats in basketball history when he scored 50 points in game 6 of the NBA Finals, giving the Hawks the NBA championship. The victory becomes the Hawks franchise's first NBA title ever."
Many remember Bob Pettit as a true gentleman on and off the hardcourt, born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and attended LSU. Former Hawks' teammate Lenny Wilkins said, "Pettit worked unceasingly to develop into one of the game's true greats. He was a true southern gentleman, polite and meticulous.
Bob Pettit retired after the 1964-65 season and was voted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 1970.
Bob Pettit highlights: He led the NBA 3 times in free throws made... scored a career-high 31.1 points per game in 1961-62... compiled a resounding 20.3 rebounds per game in 1960-61.
Bob Pettit stats: 20,880 points in 792 games, 7349 FGM, 25.5 points per game,16872 FGA, a .436 pct., 6182 FTM, 8119 FTA, .761 pct, 12,849 rebounds, 16.2 rpg, 2369 assists, 3.0 apg, 2529 PF.