While he never played in the National Basketball Association (NBA) because he’d rather play for the flag rather than get paid in the best pro league in the world, Schmidt is considered one of the best players to ever play the game because of his accomplishments in playing for the Brazil national team and in various pro leagues around the world.
The Brazilian legend himself readily agreed.
“I would be one of the best 10 ever,” declared Oscar Schmidt, the Brazilian player who was recently inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame, in an interview with Scott Howard-Cooper of www.nba.com.
Schmidt entered the Hall of Fame on Sunday, presented by another basketball legend in Larry Bird the former Boston Celtics great.
The 6-foot-9 (206 cm) guard-forward played for the Brazilian National Team in five straight Olympics debuting in 1980 and appearing for the last time in 1996. His career-best came in the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea, where he averaged a tournament-high 42.3 points per game. Schmidt still holds the Olympic record for most points (55) by a player in a single game.
Nicknamed “Mao Santa” or “The Holy Hand,” Schmidt was drafted by the New Jersey Nets in the 1984 NBA Draft, but he chose to stay as an amateur so he can pursue playing for the national team. Rule then was that professionals were not allowed to play in the Olympics.
“There was not a price [the Nets could have offered]. There was national team. That’s it. The national team doesn’t have a price. It’s proud. It’s what you live for. And today, people don’t like to play for the national team. That’s very sad for me,” also said in the same interview.
“One point a minute. Twenty minutes, 20 points. Forty minutes, maybe 60,” when queried of what he would have averaged then if he played in the NBA.
Brazilian brag or The Holy Hand indeed?
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