As a life long Missouri Tiger fan, from birth I was raised to dislike the Crimson and Blue of the Univeristy Kansas. And even though the two universities have gone their separate ways with conference departures my disdain for the Jayhawks has not diminished. However I was also given my last name at birth, Lovellette; and I always support my family. Today our family, a distant cousin of mine, lost a Baksketball legend and great family man; Clyde Lovellette.
Clyde Lovellette was a true basketball legend, growing up in the tradition rich basketball state of Indiana. After taking his high school team to the state finals he moved on to the University of Kansas.
There he led the Jayhawks to the program’s first NCAA Championship. Clyde earned tournament Most Outstanding Player honors after scoring a then record 141 points during the tournament; including a 33 point, 17 rebound effort in the title game against St. John’s.
He became the first player in NCAA history to lead the country in scoring and win a championship in the same season. To this day he still ranks fourth in career scoring at Kansas and tenth in rebounding.
After leading the Big Seven conference in scoring in his three years at school, players sat out as freshmen, and earning First Team All-American honors twice he was drafted ninth overall by the Minneapolis Lakers in the 1952 NBA draft. In between his collegiate and NBA career Clyde joined six of his teammates in helping the United States defeat the Soviet Union in the Olympics Gold Medal game.
In the NBA Clyde, a 6’9″ forward, became one of the first big men to extend their game away from the basket, utilizing a one handed set shot and a near unstoppable hook shot. In his second year in the league Clyde won the NBA title with the Lakers.
That championship, his third in just a two year span was historical in the sport of basketball. Clyde became the first player to win the Triple Crown of championships; winning an NCAA Championship, Olympic Gold Medal, and NBA Championship in their career. To this day just six other men have accomplished that feat; such men as Bill Russell, Magic Johnson, and Michael Jordan.
He would go on to play 12 years in the NBA, averaging 17.0 points and 9.3 rebounds per game. Clyde was a four time NBA All-Star and just like every athletes dream he retired an NBA Champ, winning two more titles with the Boston Celtics in his final two seasons.
Clyde was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 1988, College Baksketball Hall of Fame in 2012, and had his jersey retired by the University of Kansas in 1992.
Clyde went on to serve as a sheriff back in his home state of Indiana and also spent several years teaching, coaching, and broadcasting local games. I had the good fortune of meeting him years ago and as a sports fan myself was ecstatic in the chance to talk with one of the all-time greats. But more impressive to me was his humbleness he carried himself with.
Clyde Lovellette passed away from cancer at the age of 86. And on this day this black and gold fan joins in with the scarlet and blue to say goodbye and remember a true legend, Clyde Lovellette.