Pure Shooters of Days Gone By
By Ken Lindsay, Editor & Publisher of GuideToCoachingBasketball.com
After watching basketball development over the past 75 years, it has been my pleasure to watch some of the best at every level of play. The first to catch my eye was Bob McDermott, then playing with the Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons. McDermott was named to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1988. Bobby McDermott turned professional after only one year of high school, and starred in the ABL and NBL for 17 years.
During his era, five-foot-eleven guard Bobby McDermott was the best two-handed set shooter in the game of basketball. In 1946 the NBL coaches, players, and sports editors named McDermott, the "Greatest Player of All-Time."
Bobby McDermott had the ability to score from anywhere inside half-court. This was a time when teams played a deliberate slowdown game. This was because most players were awful shooters.
Zones were the most common defenses. For a zone to be successful. all defenders must be close together back near the basket. Bobby spread the defenders like nobody ever before.
He was an accurate shooter for his day; however, McDermott's free-throw shooting percentage was slightly above 70% most of his career and he used a two-handed set shot from the chest that was easy to block. Despite this, Bobby could score from anywhere within half-court. Al Cervi, one of the best defenders of his time, said of McDermott, "Oh, he could shoot! If he shot ten times from thirty feet, I'd guarantee he'd make eight in game conditions."
As player/coach of the Chicago Gears in 1947, Bob McDermott teamed with George Mikan to bring the Gears a NBL championship. McDermott is the only pro basketball player/coach to guide two teams to championships. He concluded his career in 1950, the year Collier's named him to the All-World Team.
Despite McDermott’s awesome achievements, the best pure shooter I ever saw in my 75 years was little Dickey Kinder, a spindly-legged 5 foot 6 tall and hardly weighing 135 pounds, soaking wet. Dickey led tiny Winslow to two consecutive Regional Championships.
Winslow’s record, against tough opponents, during Kinder’s time as a high school player was 73 wins with only 5 losses against some of the better teams in Indiana from 1949 to 1951.
In his youth, Dick was one of slow developers and it wasn't until his college days, he grew to 5 foot 11 and weighed 180 pounds, almost identically in size to the famed Bobby McDermott. Dick was heavily recruited out of high school, but settled on Memphis State, coached by Dr. Eugene Lambert.
Kinder, like McDermott utilized the two-hand set shot; however, he had a picture-perfect jump shot, an amazing hook shot from the side and front of the basket, and the uncanny ability to fire broadsides on the full run.
Dick Kinder set both NCAA and Memphis State scoring records for sharp shooting. He was one of few players from Indiana to ever hold a major NCAA record when, in 1954, as a sophomore at Memphis State, he had the distinction of hitting 22 of 26 field goals against a top-ten-ranked Marshall University.
Kinder's NCAA high-percentage scoring record stood for 19 years until broken by 3-time UCLA All-American, Bill Walton, who hit 21 out of 22 shots. Ironically, Walton scored these shots against Kinder's old team, Memphis State.
Walton, while speaking in Evansville, introduced Kinder and apologized because of the closeness of his shots to the basket. The majority of Kinder's shots were 19, 25 foot, and beyond range. Today, of course, all these would have been three pointers. His 22 field goals are still a Memphis University record.
Branch McCracken, Hall of Fame Coach of Indiana Hurrying Hoosiers once exclaimed, "Whenever Kinder looks the basket, the net flinches."
John D. Powless, former head coach of the Wisconsin Badgers and assistant coach for the University of Cincinnati's two consecutive NCAA National Champions, called Kinder the "purest shooter, I've ever seen."
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