Hartman: NBA draft memories from a different time

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 28, 2013 - 6:49 AM

While working with the Minneapolis and Chicago franchises, I had a front-row seat as history was made.

Thursday’s NBA draft brought back a lot of memories for me, from when I sat in and made choices for the Minneapolis Lakers from the 1947-48 season until the 1956-57 season.

It also reminded me of how different the draft process used to be and how it has changed.

I was also involved with the Chicago NBA franchise (originally the Packers, then the Zephyrs) from 1961-1963, when the team moved to Baltimore and became the Bullets. The Chicago franchise actually became active in 1960, when players in that year’s draft included Jerry West and Lenny WilkensOscar Robertson went No. 1 overall to the Cincinnati Royals as a territorial pick — but a Chicago arena wasn’t available until the 1961-62 season, when the team drafted Indiana center Walt Bellamy in the first round.

Yes, the situation was different in those days and my boss here at the Tribune, Charley Johnson, allowed me to be involved with both of those teams. Other members of the sports staff also had public relations jobs and such with professional sports teams.

I had been involved in getting pro basketball here in 1947 and because of the success we had, the Chicago connection developed.

Of all the drafts that I was involved in, one made history in 1950 when Red Auerbach of the Boston Celtics made the historic decision to draft the first African-American into the NBA, selecting Duquesne’s Chuck Cooper with the 12th pick in the second round. Cooper played six years in the NBA and averaged 6.7 points and 5.9 rebounds per game. After his playing days, he earned a master’s degree in social work from the University of Minnesota.

At the time, most NBA teams made big money when Abe Saperstein and the Harlem Globetrotters played in doubleheaders that included two NBA teams and a Trotters game.

The Globetrotters at the time sold out every arena they appeared in, and sometimes they played as many as three dates to keep an NBA team from bankruptcy.

So when Auerbach made the choice, a recess was immediately called. Several of the owners begged Auerbach and Celtics owner Walter Brown to withdraw Cooper’s selection so they could keep their dates with the Globetrotters.

However, the Celtics refused and when the pick was announced in the media, Saperstein canceled every Globetrotters game to be played in an NBA arena that year.

The drafting of Cooper later resulted in two other black players appearing in the NBA that year — Nat “Sweetwater” Clifton (the first to sign an NBA contract) and Earl Lloyd (the first to actually play in an NBA game) — and those three players broke the racial barrier in the NBA.

Territorial draft

One thing that helped the Minneapolis Lakers become a power was that back in the late 1940s and through the mid-’60s, the NBA had what was known as the territorial draft, where local teams got the chance to draft collegiate players in their region before any other teams in the NBA by relinquishing their first-round draft selection.

This led the Lakers to grab such players as Vern Mikkelsen of Hamline in 1949 and Whitey Skoog (1951) and Dick Garmaker (1955) of the Gophers.

The territorial draft lasted until 1966, when the NBA moved to a coin-flip system in which the worst team from each division would flip a coin to determine the first and second selections in the draft, then the rest of the league would fall into order based on their final record that season.

That system lasted until 1985, when the NBA implemented the modern system of using a draft lottery to determine the drafting order of the teams that did not reach the playoffs in any given season.


• Chris Anderson, the Centennial high school standout who pitched at Jacksonville, and Tom Windle, the former Gopher, made their professional debuts Tuesday night with the same team in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization. Anderson, the Dodgers’ No. 1 pick, started for the Great Lake Loons, the Dodgers’ Class A affiliate, and struck out five and allowed one hit in two innings. Windle, the Dodgers’ second-round pick, relieved Anderson and pitched the next two innings. He was just as dominant, striking out two, walking one and allowing no hits as Great Lakes beat South Bend 10-1.

• Some time ago the Vikings bought a building from the Pohlad family adjacent to Winter Park for future use. Presently it is being rented out, but a lot of Vikings employees could be working in it in the near future.

• Vikings cornerback Chris Cook, who was acquitted in March of 2012 of charges of assaulting his girlfriend the previous October, has regained the respect of coach Leslie Frazier. “With my conversations [with Cook], I feel like he has grown up a lot,” Frazier said. “I think his teammates have really encouraged him and helped him along the way. We’ve got some real good leadership on this team but I do like where he is. Still, it’s something that he knows we always have to hold one another accountable, and we will continue to do that. You never want to thank anything for granted.”

• Joey King, the Eastview basketball player who is transferring to Minnesota from Drake, put up some outstanding high school statistics. King averaged 23.9 points and six rebounds, but he scored in double figures in 26 of his 29 games.

• Jeff Sorenson of Columbia Golf Course in Minneapolis qualified for the PGA Championship for the second time by finishing in the top 20 at the PGA Pro National Championship in Sunriver, Ore. Sorenson’s brother, Matt, was his caddie at the tournament.

• Former Gopher Drew Ghelfi, who was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers, made his professional debut Saturday and pitched a shutout inning with two strikeouts for the Brewers’ farm team in the Rookie Arizona League.

• Former Gophers pitcher T.J. Oakes is 7-5 with a 4.52 ERA for the Asheville (N.C.) Tourists, the Rockies’ farm team in the Class A South Atlantic League. He is 4-2 in his past eight starts including a complete-game three-hitter on June 21.

• With the verbal commitment of center Connor Mayes of Van Alstyne, Texas, the Gophers football team eventually will have three brother combinations, all offensive linemen: Connor and Alex Mayes, Ed and Tommy Olson of Mahtomedi and Luke and Kyle McAvoy of Bloomington, Ill.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on 830-AM at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. shartman@startribune.com

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Philadelphia 24 FINAL
Washington 27
San Diego 7:25 PM
San Francisco
Minnesota 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Detroit 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Atlanta 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New England 12/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 12/21/14 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Phoenix 99 FINAL
New York 90
Portland 62 3rd Qtr
New Orleans 44
Utah 39 3rd Qtr
Charlotte 52
Atlanta 7:00 PM
San Antonio 7:30 PM
Indiana 8:00 PM
Milwaukee 9:30 PM
LA Clippers
Arizona 2 FINAL
Los Angeles 4
Colorado 2 2nd Prd 15:07
Buffalo 0
Philadelphia 3 2nd Prd
Toronto 3
Ottawa 1 2nd Prd
Montreal 1
Washington 1 2nd Prd 15:32
New Jersey 0
Tampa Bay 0 2nd Prd 15:02
NY Islanders 0
Florida 1 2nd Prd
Pittsburgh 2
NY Rangers 0 2nd Prd 13:36
Carolina 1
Chicago 0 2nd Prd 13:52
Columbus 1
Nashville 0 1st Prd 19:54
Minnesota 0
Calgary 9:00 PM
St. Louis 9:30 PM
San Jose
VA Commonwealth 68 FINAL
Cincinnati 47
Charlotte 78 FINAL
Georgetown 81
Michigan 51
Louisville 76 FINAL
Western Ky 67
Mount St Marys 45 FINAL
American Univ 46
Abilene Christian 33 FINAL
Boise State 77
UMass Lowell 63 FINAL
Duquesne 79
South Alabama 65 FINAL
Ohio State 74 FINAL
North Carolina 82
Massachusetts 65 FINAL
Providence 85
Syracuse 77 FINAL
Villanova 82
Citadel 61 FINAL
Virginia Tech 64
Belmont 73 FINAL
Fairfield 61
St Bonaventure 69 FINAL
Binghamton 51
Montreat 64 FINAL
Campbell 90
Delaware 74 FINAL
Fair-Dickinson 76
South Florida 62 FINAL
Florida State 75
Vanderbilt 60 FINAL
Georgia Tech 65
SC State 71 FINAL
Houston 63
Missouri 59 FINAL
Illinois 62
Truett-McConnell 55 FINAL
Jacksonville 84
Toledo 83 FINAL
McNeese State 69
Elon 71 FINAL
UNC Greensboro 64
Drexel 68 FINAL
Penn State 73
St Francis-PA 73 FINAL
Rutgers 68
Albany 64 FINAL
Yale 60
PSU-Beaver 74 FINAL
Longwood 106
Eastern Ill 60 FINAL
Indiana State 56
Indiana 82 FINAL
Butler 73
Marshall 58 FINAL
Arkansas State 67
Lafayette 69 FINAL
Kansas 96
Oral Roberts 63 FINAL
Memphis 78
Western Mich 61 FINAL
Northwestern 67
Delaware State 70 FINAL
Oregon 83
Fla Atlantic 56 FINAL
St Francis-NY 61
Arkansas Tech 57 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 94
Howard Payne 50 FINAL
Texas-Arlington 89
Kennesaw St 53
St Josephs (IN) 54 FINAL
Chicago State 77
Eastern Mich 77 FINAL
Missouri State 65
Kentucky 83
UC Davis 81 FINAL
Air Force 75
Houston Baptist 67 FINAL
UC Riverside 78
Davidson 80 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 68
USC Upstate 53 FINAL
Miss State 51
NC Central 94 FINAL
Miss Valley St 60
Illinois State 77 FINAL
Murray State 89
Louisiana 85 FINAL
Northwestern St 89
Oakland 77 FINAL
Pittsburgh 81
Detroit 55 FINAL
Rhode Island 69
Presbyterian 60 FINAL
UT Martin 77
Monmouth 74 FINAL
Wagner 66
Southern U 39 FINAL
Wyoming 57
Iowa State 83 FINAL
Drake 54
Wake Forest 50 FINAL
Florida 63
High Point 80 FINAL
James Madison 71
Texas Southern 71 FINAL
Michigan State 64
New Hampshire 60 FINAL
Sacred Heart 73
Northeastern 78 FINAL
Santa Clara 72
Huston-Tillotson 56 FINAL
Texas State 90
Purdue 63 FINAL
Notre Dame 94
Prairie View 44 FINAL
Sam Houston St 61
Xavier 73 1st OT
Auburn 73
Bluffton 27 2nd Half
Akron 48
NJIT 56 2nd Half 15:07
Central Conn St 45
Hofstra 38 2nd Half
Columbia 34
Boston Univ 32 2nd Half
Dayton 39
Iona 38 2nd Half
George Mason 45
Valparaiso 44 2nd Half 16:41
IUPU-Ft Wayne 45
Texas A&M 32 2nd Half
Kansas State 39
Morgan State 42 2nd Half 15:57
Manhattan 45
Saint Josephs 45 2nd Half 15:45
Marist 34
East Carolina 25 2nd Half 17:30
UNC-Wilmington 35
Richmond 35 2nd Half 18:55
Pepperdine 34
La Salle 32 2nd Half 19:00
Towson 15
Incarnate Word 31 2nd Half
CS-Bakersfield 32 2nd Half
Idaho State 29
Iowa 24 1st Half 4:08
Northern Iowa 20
Milwaukee 16 1st Half 8:07
SIU Edwardsville 14
Long Beach State 5 1st Half 18:32
Texas 5
TX-San Antonio 2 1st Half 17:59
SE Missouri St 7:30 PM
Lehigh 8:00 PM
Arizona State
New Mexico 8:00 PM
New Mexico St
Oklahoma 8:00 PM
Utah Valley U 8:00 PM
Weber State
Jacksonville St 8:00 PM
Northern Colorado
St Edwards 8:00 PM
Grand Canyon
NC State 8:30 PM
West Virginia
TX A&M-CC 9:00 PM
Cal Poly 9:00 PM
Fresno State 9:00 PM
Montana State 9:00 PM
Ball State 9:00 PM
San Diego St
South Dakota St 9:05 PM
Utah State
Stanford 10:00 PM
Utah 10:30 PM
Nevada 3 FINAL
Louisiana 16
Utah State 21 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 6
(23) Utah 45 FINAL
Colorado State 10
Western Mich 10 3rd Qtr 3:33
Air Force 23
South Alabama 8:15 PM
Bowling Green
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
Cincinnati 12/27/14 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Duke 12/27/14 1:10 PM
(15) Arizona State
Miami-Florida 12/27/14 3:00 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 12/27/14 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 12/27/14 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Livingstone 77 FINAL
UNC Greensboro 81
Loyola-Chicago 58 FINAL
Dartmouth 70
Georgia Tech 65 FINAL
St Francis-NY 59
Auburn 49 FINAL
St Johns 56
East Tenn St 56 FINAL
Jacksonville St 57
Western Mich 71 FINAL
Detroit 57
Cal-Irvine 42 FINAL
Wright State 80
Gardner-Webb 47 FINAL
Kennesaw St 50
(7) Stanford 40 FINAL
(11) Tennessee 59
Alabama A&M 47 FINAL
Ole Miss 71
Central Michigan 45 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 80
Nebraska Omaha 50 FINAL
Creighton 67
Western Carolina 83
Houston 65 FINAL
Nicholls 47
St Thomas Aquinas 45 FINAL
Army 70
St Bonaventure 72 FINAL
Niagara 60
Texas State 57 FINAL
Stetson 75
George Mason 65 FINAL
ULM 53
Grambling 38 FINAL
Kansas State 61
Missouri 79 FINAL
Wake Forest 64
Robert Morris 59 FINAL
Cornell 70
Air Force 44 FINAL
Abilene Christian 80
Hampton 53 FINAL
James Madison 85
American Univ 64 FINAL
MD-Eastern Shore 52
Texas Southern 63 FINAL
TX A&M-CC 68
Tenn Tech 49 FINAL
NC A&T 54
Presbyterian 45 FINAL
NC Central 33
Penn 58 FINAL
Drexel 67
Lipscomb 38 FINAL
Xavier 62
Vermont 40 FINAL
Green Bay 60
Charleston Southern 70 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 80
Ohio Christian 62 FINAL
Akron 97
Jacksonville 62 FINAL
Murray State 80
(17) Rutgers 66 FINAL
Iona 58
Indiana 88 FINAL
Oakland 61
Indiana State 64 FINAL
SMU 55
Denver 51 FINAL
Purdue 65
TX-San Antonio 48 FINAL
Texas Tech 64
Middle Tennessee 79
Campbell 66 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 55
Florida A&M 67 FINAL
SE Louisiana 69
Northwestern St 61 FINAL
Jackson State 62
Lehigh 61 FINAL
Arizona State 81
Valparaiso 65 FINAL
SIU-Edwardsville 77
Liberty 60 FINAL
Minnesota 74
Wofford 60 FINAL
North Florida 68
Montana State 61 FINAL
Washington St 82
Marshall 56 FINAL
(22) West Virginia 69
Morgan State 40 FINAL
Chattanooga 55
Northeastern 65 FINAL
Harvard 67
Furman 51 FINAL
(15) Georgia 58
(18) Michigan State 65 FINAL
(9) Baylor 84
Ohio U 52 FINAL
Massachusetts 59
Prairie View 48 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 86
Toledo 64 FINAL
Southern Ill 48
High Point 57 FINAL
(12) Nebraska 83
Winthrop 20 FINAL
Wichita State 66
William Jewell 59 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 52 FINAL
Utah 67
Southern Utah 51 FINAL
Gonzaga 70
Hawaii 85 FINAL
Loyola Marymount 76
San Jose St 62 FINAL
San Francisco 77
CS-Northridge 65 FINAL
San Diego State 54
Norfolk State 36 FINAL
East Carolina 65
Saint Peters 49 FINAL
Loyola-Maryland 59
Arizona 60 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 72
Northwestern 92 FINAL
Eastern Illinois 44
Oral Roberts 52 FINAL
Wisconsin 70
Florida Atlantic 44 FINAL
New Mexico St 57
La Salle 63 2nd Half 3:56
Georgia State 63
(16) Oregon State 73 FINAL
Nevada 50
Sacred Heart 58 2nd Half 13:09
Villanova 34
Delaware 36 2nd Half 15:30
Cincinnati 38
Troy 39 2nd Half 15:58
Tennessee St 43
Saint Louis 23 1st Half 3:25
Utah Valley U 22
Pacific 7:00 PM
Long Beach St
Washington 0 1st Half 20:00
UC-Riverside 0
Old Dominion 3 1st Half 17:59
Miami-Ohio 4
Austin Peay 9:00 PM
Lewis-Clark State 9:00 PM
(21) Miss State 9:30 PM
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