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Bill Bradley

For other uses, see Bill Bradley (disambiguation).

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from New Jersey

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This page is a soft redirect. William Warren Bradley
(1943-07-28) July 28, 1943 (age 72)
Crystal City, Missouri

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Worcester College, Oxford

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This page is a soft redirect. professional basketball player, United States senator, author, radio host, corporate director

William Warren "Bill" Bradley (born July 28, 1943) is an American Hall of Fame basketball player, Rhodes scholar, and former three-term Democratic U.S. Senator from New Jersey. He ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic Party's nomination for President in the 2000 election.

Bradley was born and raised in Crystal City, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis, and excelled at basketball from an early age. He was a member of the Boy Scouts, did well academically and was an all-county and all-state basketball player in high school. He was offered 75 college scholarships, but declined them all to attend Princeton University. He earned a gold medal as a member of the 1964 Olympic basketball team and was the NCAA Player of the Year in 1965, when Princeton finished third in the NCAA Tournament. After graduating in 1965, he attended Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarship, delaying a decision for two years on whether or not to play in the National Basketball Association (NBA).

While at Oxford, Bradley played one season of professional basketball in Europe, and eventually decided to join the New York Knicks in the 1967–68 season, after serving six months in the Air Force Reserve. He spent his entire ten-year professional basketball career playing for the Knicks, winning two championship titles. Retiring in 1977, he ran for a seat in the United States Senate the following year, from his adopted home state of New Jersey. He was re-elected in 1984 and 1990, left the Senate in 1997, and was an unsuccessful candidate for the 2000 Democratic presidential nomination.

Bradley is the author of seven non-fiction books, most recently We Can All Do Better, and hosts a weekly radio show, American Voices, on Sirius Satellite Radio. He is a corporate director of Starbucks and a partner at investment bank Allen & Company in New York City.

In 2008 Bradley was inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame.[1]

Early life

Bradley was born on July 28, 1943 in Crystal City, Missouri, the only child of Warren (d. 1994),[2] who despite leaving high school after a year had become a bank president, and Susan "Susie" (née Crowe) Bradley (d. 1995),[2] a teacher and former high school-basketball player.[3][4][5][6] Politicians and politics were standard dinner-table topics in Bradley's childhood, and he described his father as a "solid Republican" who was an elector for Thomas E. Dewey in the 1948 presidential election.[5] An active Boy Scout, he became an Eagle Scout and member of the Order of the Arrow.[7]

Bradley's wealthy background made his exceptional athletic accomplishments especially unusual. Bradley began playing basketball at the age of nine. He was a star at Crystal City High School, where he scored 3,068 points in his scholastic career, was twice named All-American, and was elected to the Missouri Association of Student Councils.[3] He received 75 college scholarship offers, although he applied to only five schools[6][8][7] and only scored a 485 out of 800 on the Verbal portion of the SAT,[9] which—despite being likely in the top third of all test takers that year—normally would have caused selective schools like Princeton University to reject him.[10]

Bradley's basketball ability benefited from his height—5'9" in the 7th grade, 6'1" in the 8th grade,[7] and his adult size of 6'5" by the age of 15[3]—and unusually wide peripheral vision,[3] which he worked to improve by focusing on faraway objects while walking.[11][12] During his high school years, Bradley maintained a rigorous practice schedule, a habit he carried through college.[13] He would work on the court for "three and a half hours every day after school, nine to five on Saturday, one-thirty to five on Sunday, and, in the summer, about three hours a day. He put ten pounds of lead slivers in his sneakers, set up chairs as opponents and dribbled in a slalom fashion around them, and wore eyeglass frames that had a piece of cardboard taped to them so that he could not see the floor, for a good dribbler never looks at the ball."[3]

Basketball

College

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Playing at Princeton in 1964

Considered the top high school player in the country, Bradley initially chose to attend Duke University in the fall of 1961.[14] However, after breaking his foot in the summer of 1961 during a baseball game and thinking about his college decision outside of basketball, Bradley decided to enroll at Princeton due to its record in preparing students for government or United States Foreign Service work.[15][7] He had been awarded a scholarship at Duke, but not at Princeton; the Ivy League does not allow its members to award athletic scholarships,[14][15] and Bradley's family's wealth disqualified him from receiving financial aid.[3]:13

Bradley's childhood hero Dick Kazmaier had won the Heisman Trophy at Princeton, and he wore #42 in his honor.[3]:73 In his freshman year, Bradley averaged more than 30 points per game for the freshman team,[16] at one point making 57 consecutive free throws,[17] breaking a record set by a member of the NBA's Syracuse Nationals. The following year, as a sophomore, he was a varsity starter in Butch van Breda Kolff's first year as coach of the Tigers.[18]

In his sophomore year Bradley scored 40 points in an 82–81 loss to St. Joseph's[19] and was named to The Sporting News All-American first team in early 1963. The coach of the St. Louis Hawks believed he was ready to play professional basketball.[17] The AP and United Press International polls both put Bradley on the second team, establishing him as the top sophomore player in the country;[20] Bradley also hit .316 as a first baseman for the baseball team.[19] The following year The Sporting News again named him to its All-American team as its only junior, and as its player of the year.[21] At the Olympic basketball trials in April 1964, Bradley played guard instead of his usual forward position but was still a top performer.[22][7] He was one of three chosen unanimously for the Olympic team, the youngest chosen, and the only undergraduate. The Olympic team won its sixth consecutive gold medal.[3]

As a senior and team captain[23] in the 1964–1965 season, Bradley became a household name.[19] Only the third tallest on his team,[3] but called "easily the No. 1 player in college basketball today",[7] "the best amateur basketball player in the United States", and "The White Oscar Robertson",[3] he scored 41 points in an 80–78 loss to Michigan[19] and their star player Cazzie Russell in the 1964 ECAC Holiday Basketball Final at Madison Square Garden, then led Princeton to the NCAA Final Four[24] after defeating heavy favorite Providence and Jimmy Walker by 40 points.[19] The team then lost to Michigan in the semifinals, but Bradley scored a record 58 points in the consolation game to lead the team to victory against Wichita State and earn himself the Final Four MVP.[25] In total, Bradley scored 2,503 points at Princeton, averaging 30.2 points per game. He was awarded the 1965 James E. Sullivan Award, presented annually to the United States' top amateur athlete, the first basketball player to win the honor,[26] and the second Princeton student to win the award, after runner Bill Bonthron in 1934.[26]

Bradley holds a number of Ivy League career records, including total and average points (1,253/29.83, respectively), and free throws made and attempted (409/468, 87.4%).[27] Ivy League season records he holds similarly include total and average points (464/33.14, 1964) and most free throws made (153 in 170 attempts, 90.0%, 1962–1963).[27] He also holds the career point record at Princeton and many other school records, including the top ten slots in the category of total points scored in a game,[28] but likely could have scored many more points if he had not insisted so often on passing the ball, in what his coaches called "Bradley's hope passes", to inferior teammates closer to the basket; he only emphasized his own scoring when Princeton was behind[3]:46 or, as during the Wichita State game, his teammates forced Bradley to shoot by returning passes to him.[19] Van Breda Kolff often encouraged Bradley to be more of a "one on one" player, stating that "Bill is not hungry. At least ninety percent of the time, when he gets the ball, he is looking for a pass."[3]:46

Van Breda Kolff described Bradley as "not the most physical player. Others can run faster and jump higher. The difference...is self-discipline."[3] At Princeton he had three to four hours of classes and four hours of basketball practice daily, studied an average of seven hours each weekday and up to 24 more hours each weekend,[7] frequently spoke for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes around the country, and taught Sunday School at the local Presbyterian Church. When practicing he did not move from a location on the court unless he made at least ten of 13 shots, and could detect whether a basket was an inch too low from the regulation ten feet.[3]

Improving from his mediocre freshman grades, Bradley graduated magna cum laude[10] after writing his senior thesis about Harry S. Truman's 1940 United States Senate campaign,[19] titled "On That Record I Stand",[29] and received a Rhodes Scholarship at Worcester College, University of Oxford. His tenure at Princeton was the subject of Pulitzer Prize-winning author John McPhee's January 23, 1965 article "A Sense of Where You Are" in The New Yorker, which McPhee expanded into a book of the same name. The title came from Bradley's explanation for his ability to repeatedly throw a basketball over his shoulder and into the basket while looking away from it.[3]

Professional

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Bill Bradley
Personal information
Born (1943-07-28) July 28, 1943 (age 72)
Crystal City, Missouri
Nationality American
Career information
High school Crystal City
(Crystal City, Missouri)
College Princeton (1962–1965)
NBA draft 1965 / Pick: Territorial
Selected by the New York Knicks
Pro career 1965–1977
Position Shooting guard / Small forward
Number 24
Career history
1965–1966 Olimpia Milano (Italy)
19671977 New York Knicks
Career highlights and awards
Career statistics
Points 9,217 (12.4 ppg)
Rebounds 2,354 (3.2 rpg)
Assists 2,533 (3.4 apg)
Stats at Basketball-Reference.com
Basketball Hall of Fame as player