There are a handful of NBA players—most from the years before evening highlight shows—that are on the outside of the Hall of Fame looking in. For many year, Guy Rodgers, the Philadelphia playground legend who starred for the Warriors for nearly a decade, was chief among them. That oversight was finally corrected in 2014.

A quicksilver point guard who rivaled Bob Cousy as a ballhandler and passer, Guy was the consummate floor general. For example, the night that Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points (during the season he averaged 50.4 points), Guy was the guy feeding him the ball. When he retired, he ranked third all-time in assists, shared the record for most assists in a game, and was the only NBA guard to top 900 assists in a season. Opponents couldn't imagine a tougher defensive assignment, and teammates knew that an easy bucket was only a soft, crisp pass away—often a behind-the-back dazzler—when Guy was running the show.

Guy William Rodgers Jr. was born on September 1, 1935 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Click here for today's sports birthdays.) His father, Guys Sr., worked for Philco, the city]s famous radio company. Three of Guy’s uncles were doctors.

Guy Sr. had a college degree and had once done some graduate work at Springfield College in Massachusetts, the birthplace of basketball. Unlike his son, he was not much for indoor sports. His talents leaned toward football and baseball.

Guy was a playful, cheerful kid who beloved by friends and family. He always seemed to be thinking, his eyes darting back and forth. Guy’s smile was infectious. He was also incredibly coordinated. Throughout his life, the people close to him insisted there was something special about him above and beyond his basketball talent.

As a boy, Guy hung around with a group of friends that included Bill Cosby. Watching the old "Fat Albert" cartoons, it’s tempting to figure out which character he is. The boys used to make up nonsense rhymes, many of which revolved around a fictitious character named Cooty Brown. Somehow, they decided Guy was Cooty Brown. Years later, Cosby would have Guy paged as Cooty in public places. Guy’s future wife, Gladys, also loved to call him Cooty.


Guy Rodgers
     
 

Guy, Cosby and their buddies all loved basketball. It was on the hardcourts of North Philadelphia that Guy’s athletic talent began to blossom—and where he received the hoops education that shaped his game. Guy was a skillful driving guard and a superb set-shooter. By the time he enrolled at Northeast High School, Guy already had a fine arts degree in ballhandling. Coach Al Woolly had never had a player like Guy. He loved the game so much that Woolly often had to chase him off the court after the other Northeast players had finished practice.

Ssmall and light, Guy made up for his lack of size with great creativity and determination. By the time he was 17, Guy had grown to his adult height of six feet tall. In the pros, his weight would fluctuate between 180 and 190 pounds. A health and conditioning nut, Guy was always thinking about the best foods for building his basketball body. He was the only teenager in Philly who swore off soda pop. He never smoke or drank. As a pro, he allowed himself the occasional Shirley Temple.

Philadelphia had produced a lot of flashy ballhandlers over the years, but no one was faster or better than Guy, who sometimes went by the nickname “Flip.” He blended imagination, anticipation and—most important—fundamentals to become an excellent playmaker and scorer. Over his four-year varsity career at Northeast High, Guy became an expert at making his teammates shine and college scouts drool.

One of Guy’s friends was John Chaney, the future Temple coach. They honed their skills playing fullcourt one-on-one. The wager was usually a bottle of ice-cold milk. Chaney later said that Guy was the best point guard that ever played in the NBA. No one, Chaney claimed, was better triggering the fast break. As a coach, Chaney recreated his childhood battles with Guy, regularly setting up fullcourt one-on-one battles between his players.

In 1953–54, Northeast lost its scoring star, Joe Belmont, who went on to have a good career in the ACC. Woolly asked Guy to focus more on scoring. He obliged by averaging 35 points a game. Guy was named Public League Player of the Year. He beat out Chamberlain, then a center at Overbrook High School. Guy graduated from Northeast High the spring.

It was not a happy year, however. One morning, Guy awoke to discover his mother was suffering a heart attack. The Rodgers did not have a family doctor, so Guy ran down the street in a panic looking for one. When he returned, there were police cars outside his apartment. The officers informed him that his mother was dead. Guy was sent to live with his grandfather until college began.

Bill Cosby album
     
 

Guy entertained scholarships from 16 schools before deciding to stay local, accepting a full ride at Temple. He had promised his mother that he would remain close to home. Owls coach Harry Litwack, meanhile, wanted to wrest the honor of top Philly hoops program away from La Salle. Guy was the player who would get him there. .

Guy scored 287 for Temple’s freshman team in 1954-55. He could hardly wait to play with the school’s sensational scorer, Hal Lear. Guy's enthusiasm, however, was somewhat tempered. Off the court, he had become a brooder, still badly shaken by his mother’s death. When Guy's grandfather subsequently passed away, he left the teenager a letter that told him to suck it up and be a man. Guy later said this was the wake-up call he needed. He went from being a disinterested follower to growing into a passionate leader.

As a sophomore starter in 1955-56, Guy averaged 18.5 points a game in 31 contests. He teamed with Lear, now a senior, to form the best backcourt in college basketball. Guy was a masterful ballhandler and passer. Lear, who had an amazing shot, benefitted greatly from his teammagte's playmaking abilities. He averaged 24 points the one season that he and Guy played together. To make things even tougher on enemy defenses, both guards were left-handed. Possession after possession, he and Lear found themselves with the ball and a clean look at the basket thanks to their sophomore point guard. Guy’s specialty was the behind-the-back pass—often delivered on the dead run.

The Owls went 27–4 on the year. In the NCAA Tournament, they beat Holy Cross, UConn and Canisius in three close games to reach the Final Four. There, Temple fell to Iowa, 83–76. Back then the two semi-final losers played a consolation third-place game prior to the final. The Owls earned a 90-81 victory over SMU, thanks to their sensational backcourt. Guy dished out 20 assists—the majority to Lear, who netted 48 points and set a tournament record with a five-game total of 160. Many of Lear’s baskets came on fastbreaks triggered by Guy. Several times they went from defensive rebound to layup in under four seconds.

In 1956-57, the Owls won 20 games but did not receive an NCAA Tournament bid. They reached the semifinals of the NIT, where they lost to Bradley. Temple beat St. Bonaventure 67–50 in the semifinal game to snag the third-place trophy. Guy averaged 23.3 points in three games. He also established a school single-season record for assists with 185.

At season’s end, Guy was a consensus second-team All-American. He got the call while babysitting—a job he enjoyed during college to earn spending money. Al Shier, Temple’s PR man, kept waiting for Guy to whoop it up, but the young guard explained that the celebration would have to wait. He was in the middle of a diaper change.

Guy Rodgers, Credit: Carl Van Vechten/Library of Congress
     
 

At a coaches’ luncheon that year, Litwack announced that Guy was the next Bob Cousy. Boston Celtics coach Red Auerbach happened to be at that event, and he shouted Litwack down. Everyone, claimed Auerbach, said they had the next Cousy, but no one had come close yet. A year later, Red admitted that Guy was a marvel.

Guy’s legend as a magician with a basketball was beginning to find its way out of Philadelphia. He was particularly impressive whenever Temple played all-white Kentucky. Guy dribbled around Adolph Rupp’s defenders like they were standing still. Rupp once told reporters that he wished Temple would graduate Guy early so he didn't have deal with him anymore. In one game against the Wildcats, Guy rose to the rim for a right-handed layup only to find a Kentucky player swooping over to swat his shot. Guy, holding the ball in his right hand, switched it to his left hand in mid-air for an easy layup. Fans would see this move from Guy many more times before Michael Jordan made it famous.

The 1957-58 season was one for the books for Guy and the Owls. Temple won the 1957 Holiday Festival, and Guy was named tournament MVP. Another highlight of his senior season was a school-record 15 assists in a game against Manhattan College. For the year, he averaged 20.1 points per game.

The Owls reached the Final Four for the second time in Guy’s career, beating Maryland and Dartmouth after receiving a first-round bye. There they fell to Kentucky in a 61–60 nailbiter. Guy topped Temple with 22 points, but he missed the front end of a one-and-one with 27 seconds left. The Owls led the game by a point at the time. Kentucky won on a drive by Vern Hatton.

Temple beat Bob Boozer and Kansas State in the consolation game, 67–57.  Guy joined Hatton, Elgin Baylor, John Cox and Charley Brown on the All-Tournament team.

Temple’s final record for the season was 27–3. In Guy’s three varsity seasons, the Owls lost only 16 games. In nine NCAA Tournament games, he averaged 17.9 points.

Guy finished his final college season as a consensus first-team All-American selection. He graduated with the Temple records for points and assists. In each of his three varsity seasons, local sportswriters elected him MVP of the city’s Big 5 schools (Temple, LaSalle, St. Joseph's, Villanova and Penn). He was particularly proud of winning the Temple U Award, which was given to the senior who best combined academic and extra-curricular excellence.

Guy was selected as a territorial pick in the NBA draft by the Philadelphia Warriors in the spring of 1958. He joined a club that was three years away from a league championship. The team leaders were Tom Gola and Paul Arizin—both, like Guy, were local college basketball stars. Philadelphia’s star center, Neil Johnston, had a balky knee and missed a lot of time. Joining Arizin on the forward line was Woody Sauldsberry, an African-American star who hade been named the NBA Rookie of the Year a season earlier.

Red Auerbach book
     
 

Guy’s first game as a pro came against an appropirate opponent, the powerhouse Celtics. He served noticed on Cousy & Co. that there was a new gunslinger in the East, netting 24 points and dishing out nine assists. Warriors owner Eddie Gottlieb was glowing afterwards, proclaiming the rookie’s debut the best he’d ever seen. This was considerable praise from a man who had been involved in world-class basketball since the 1930s.

Guy felt somewhat vincidated after his NBA debut. Comparisons to Cousy, which actually started in college, bugged Guy to no end. Even as a rookie, he (and others) believed Guy was the superior point guard. For his part, Cousy later said that Guy was the player he hated to face more than anyon other. Cousy knew he’d have to work his butt off for 48 minutes at both ends of the court.

Warrior fans fell in love with Guy’s game from the start. Even his free-throw shooting was entertaining. Guy was one of the last of the underhand shooters. He would step up to the line, bounce the ball exactly five times, wiping his hands on his hips after the second and fourth bounces, and then float his shot to toward the rim.

Guy looked more like the denizens of the Max Myers courts than the NBA superstars at the Polestra. He dribbled through his legs and threw no-look and over-the-shoulder passes when both were rarities in the NBA. Yet even when running at full speed, he never lost control of the ball. And no one could take the ball away from him—a rep that would follow him throughout his career.

Among Guy’s fans in Philadelphia was Sonny Hill, who would devote his life to nurturing basketball in the Liberty City. Hill often called Guy his hero and mentor. As teenagers, they would play for five or six hours at the Funfield courts and then consume milkshakes—a favorite body-building beverage of Guy’s.

Guy’s rookie season was interrupted by a stint in the military. He missed nearly 30 games but still finished second on the Warriors with 261 assists, leading the team with a 5.8 per game average. He showed remarkable poise for a first-year player, and with the future draft rights to Chamberlain secured, the Warriors were headed nowhere but up.

Philadelphia finished 32–40 under coach Al Cervi in 1958–59, good for fourth place in the four-team Eastern Division. In 1959–60, it was a different story. With Chamberlain in the fold, the club catapulted into the ranks of the NBA elite. Cervi was replaced by Neil Johnston, a future Hall of Famer who knew a thing or two about playing center in the NBA.

It turned out, of course, that Chamberlain had little to learn. With Guy feeding him for 30 shots a game, the rookie led the league with 37.6 scoring average—the best in pro history. Wilt also led the NBA with 27 rebounds a game. On occasion, Guy would toss up a shot purposely short of the rim and Chamberlain would guide it into the basket with one hand. This was an early version of the alley-oop, which the two later perfected in San Francisco.

Chamberlain did not steal all the headlines in the 1959–60 season. In December, Time Magazine readers got the skinny on Guy in a feature story that touted him as the NBA’s smallest full-time starter. His numbers soared as a second-year starter. Playing beside Gola in the backcourt, he average 7.1 assists, good for second in the league. Together he and Gola averaged 26.6 points and 12.6 assists a night.

Philadelphia finished with 49 victories, ten behind the first-place Celtics. After the Warriors beat the Syracuse Nationals in the opening round of the playoffs, they met Boston in an epic battle. After going down three games to one, the Warriors rallied to defeat the Celtics in Game 5 at the Boston Garden, 128–107. Game 6, in Philly, went down to the final moments. With Boston leading 117–115, Cousy fouled Guy. To the shock and despair of the sold-out crowd, he missed both shots to end the Warriors’ season.

The Warriors finished second in the East again n 1960–61 season. Chamberlain put up a nearly identical set of numbers, while Arizin chipped in his usual 20-plus points a night from the wing. Guy averaged 8.7 assists a game, finishing second in the league again, this time to rookie Oscar Robertson. For the next five seasons, they would finish one-two in the assists race almost every year.

Bob Cousy, 1981 TCMA
     
 

The Warriors had added a defensive presence in the person of Al Attles, who like Guy was a product of the Philadelphia playgrounds. The NBA at the time had an unspoken rule about African-American players. There was no limit to the number of black starters a team could have, but if a bench spot were up for grabs, the white guy was expected to win it. The arrival of Attles meant a black player would have to go—Sauldsberry was shipped to the St. Louis Hawks. Attles would become one of Guy’s great friends. They roomed together on the road and later Attles, a bachelor, lived with Guy, his wife Gladys and their children Tony, Mark and Nicole in their home in San Francisco.

In 1960-61, the Warriors were the only NBA team besides the Celtics and Hawks to finish with a winning record. In the playoffs, Philadelphia was perhaps guilty of looking past Syracuse to a showdown with Boston. The Nationals, which had a talented eight-man rotation—and plenty of rebounders to throw against Chamberlain—swept the Warriors in the first round in three close games.

Guy continued to work on his game over the summer. NBA players didn’t make much in the early 60s, so off-season work was important. Guy served as a counselor and athletic director at a couple of summer camps. He would devote his time away from the court to kids throughout his career, and also worked with children who were developmentally disabled.

Camp life left plenty of time to practice. Guy’s most glaring weakness was his outside shot. By his mid 20s, however, he had improved his shooting to the point where defenders had to guard him tightly. This in turn created more passing opportunities. Guy loved to jet around his man to create a 2-on-1 with a teammate.

Often that teammate was Chamberlain. By driving the lane and challenging centers, Guy forced opponents to make an uncomfortable decision. Did enemy defense go after the six-footer and leave Wilt open, or did they allow Guy to rise to the rim? Bill Russell’s problems guarding Chamberlain had a lot to do with Guy’s willingness to drive on the Celticswhenever he had the chance.

The Rodgers-to-Chamberlain connection reached a whole new level in 1961–62, as Wilt averaged a mind-blowing 50.4 points per game. The offensive barrage was the brainchild of new coach Frank McGuire. Guy was credited with 20 assists in the famous game in which Chamberlain scored 100 against the New York Knicks. He finished second in passing in the league again, both in total assists (643) and assists per game (8.0). In a March contest against the Hawks, Guy tied Cousy’s NBA mark with 28 assists. The record stood for another 15 years.

Adding another defensive presence in rookie forward Tom Meschery, the Warriors finished the year at 49–13. Once again, they were looking up at the first-place Celtics.

This time the Warriors survived their first-round tussle with the Nats, beating them in five games. The Eastern Finals against the Celtics was a classic, going the full seven games. Philly had a chance to tie the finale but could not get Chamberlain the shot he wanted. The Warriors lost 109–107 and then had to watch as the Los Angeles Lakers—by all accounts an inferior team—came within a shot of beating the Celtics in the NBA Finals.

After the season Gottlieb, weary from his decades in basketball, sold the club to a group of California investors who moved the Warriors to San Francisco. The team shifted to the Western Division, with the Cincinnati Royals taking their spot in the East. The Nationals immediately filled the void in the City of Brotherly Love, moving in and changing their name to the 76ers.

Guy was not happy to leave Philly. He had spent his entire life there, making a name for himself in the community far beyond his hardwood exploits. A couple of years earlier, he and Gladys had purchased a home in an East Philadelphia neighborhood only to discover that they were the first African-American couple ever to buy there. His neighbors could not have been nicer.

Of course, there were good points about heading west. Freed from the purgatory of second-place finishes and semifinal defeats against the Celtics, Guy and Chamberlain had visions of reaching the NBA Finals. They were disappointed in their first year, however, as Arizin retired rather than move and Gola was traded to the Knicks. Without these scorers, teams were free to double-and triple-team Chamberlain, daring the other Warriors to score. Guy led the league with 825 assists and 10.4 per game, and upped his scoring to 13.9, but it wasn’t enough. Despite Chamberlain’s 44.8 points per game, the Warriors failed to win consistently and finished in fourth place, out of the playoff picture.

Although it hardly made up for the team’s disappointing season, Guy took some satisfaction in being named to his first All-Star team in 1963. He played 17 minutes for the West in a 115–108 loss. He would also be name an All-Star in 1964 and 1966 as a member of the Warriors, notching 11 assists in the '66 game.

Guy Rodgers, 1961 Fleer
     
 

Defensive-minded Alex Hannum was brought in to coach the Warriors in 1963–64. He urged Wilt to focus more on a Russell-style of game, stopping shots, grabbing rebounds, and sharing the ball more on offense. The result was a slight dip in his scoring average and a first-place finish for San Francisco. New to the team was Nate Thurmond, a defensive force who subbed for Wilt and spent the rest of his time at power forward. These two shared the front line with Meschery and Wayne Hightower.

As the playoffs neared, Chamberlain remained unconvinced that Hannum’s strategy was best for the team. The other players knew this, and it had been eroding the cohesiveness that a championship contender needs at season’s end. Guy and Attles spent a couple of weeks down the stretch working on Chamberlain, but Wilt's mind seemed set. Finally, in a March game against the 76ers, Chamberlain gave a locker room speech, assuring his teammates that he bought into Hannum's approach. The players applauded, and the Warriors went into the playoffs focused and together.

San Francisco survived a seven-game slugfest with the Hawks to advance to the NBA Finals. Guy sparkled in the postseason spotlight. Against St. Louis, he was the difference-maker in two victories. In Game 7, Guy was knocked out cold when his feet got taken out from him on a rebound and his head hit the hardwood. He regained consciousness, refused a stretcher, and reentered the contest after five minutes on the bench. Guy scored 19 points and added eight assists in a 105–95 victory that put the Warriors in the NBA Finals against Boston.

Disaster struck in Game 1 when Guy dislocated his thumb blocking a pass. He was forced to play the rest of the series in a cast. The Warriors dropped the first two games in Boston, but Guy returned to form in Game 3, scoring 10 points and leading both clubs in assists as San Francisco raced to a 113–109 victory.

Guy was sensational in a pivotal Game 4 battle. With the Warriors playing for their lives, he ran rings around the Celtics, including a 16-point outburst in the fourth quarter. Unfortunately, his effort was not enough. Boston eked out a 98–95 win. The Celtics finished off the Warriors 105–99 in Boston.

Guy may have been impervious to pain, but he had no problem inflicting it on others. He was a tough defender who refused to back down from a challenge. Being one of the smallest men in the NBA did not keep him from picking fights, but he liked to brag that no one had ever caught him with a return punch. Attles often pointed out that this was because Guy hid behind him. Or Meschery. Or Chamberlain. One night in New York, Guy took a poke at Carl Braun, and then quickly realized he had no place to hide. Guy grabbed a photographer's stool and kept Braun at bay until they could be separated.

From the heights of 1963–64, the Warriors tumbled into the depths in 1964–65. The team began the year with 16 losses in its first 21 games. After the All-Star Game, the Warriors sent Chamberlain to the 76ers for shooting guard Paul Neumann, center Connie Dierking and cash. Fans stayed away in droves after that, with crowds dipping below 2,000 many nights.

Guy did what he could as the team’s veteran leader, but there was simply too much upheaval. Thurmond, who would become an excellent center, had to learn on the job and it showed. When the season mercifully ended, the Warriors had set a league record with 63 losses.

Nat Thurmond, 1971 Topps
     
 

The Warriors had nowhere to go but up in 1965-66. They added a couple of hot-shot rookies in Rick Barry and Keith Erickson. Barry was sensational, averaging 25 points a game. While he would come to be known as a deadly outside shooter, many of his buckets in his first year came on quick cuts to the hoop. Guy picked up on Barry’s nose for the basket and the two worked well together all year.

Without Chamberlain as a target—and with Neumann injured early in the season—Guy took more of the scoring load upon himself. Early in the year, he chalked up a string of 30- and 40-point games that had the NBA buzzing. For a player who rarely canned more than 40 percent of his shots from the floor, Guy was suddenly looking like a six-foot Elgin Baylor. Guy was taking double his typical 15 shots a game—and making half of them.

Ignored in the scoring flurry was the fact that Guy elevated his entire game in response to subtle sea changes in the NBA. The free throw lane had been widened the previous season, and several star forwards around the league were either injured or retired. The era of the little man in basketball was beginning. Guards were now controlling play from end to end as they never had done since the shot clock was introduced. Smart and instinctive, Guy was the first player to recognize where the opportunities were.

Guy settled down after defenses adjusted and Neumann returned to the lineup. With Attles and young McCoy McLemore contributing defense and rebounding off the bench, the Warriors improved dramatically and missed the playoffs by just one game. Guy finished the year averaging 18.6 points per game and finished second in the league with 846 assists—just one behind Robertson.

A month before the 1966–67 season began, the Warriors traded Guy to the Chicago Bulls, a new team that had picked up some valuable role players in the expansion draft. The Bulls sent Jeff Mullins and Jim King to San Francisco in return for Guy. He didn't want to leave the Warriors. With Thurmond and Barry, they had the makings of a championship team. Indeed, that spring the Warriors made it to the NBA Finals. Would they have made it with Guy? Would he turned the tide in the two crucial losses that cost the Warriors in the finals against Chamberlain and the powerhouse 76ers?

Guy gave the Bulls two things they needed badly in their first year: credibility and showmanship. He led a team of no-names and castoffs that included Don Kojis, Johnny Kerr, Bob Boozer and Jerry Sloan. Kojis was a good scorer who might have been the first white player to perfect the alley-oop. Starting in the corner, he would jet to the rim when his man turned his head. A perfectly timed pass from Guy always led to a thunderous dunk.

Sloan, a second-year castoff from the Baltimore Bullets, started beside Guy. They gave the Bulls an extremely disruptive backcourt. Guy was the freewheeling floor general, while Sloan was a talented defensive stopper and a savage rebounder. Guy registered 908 assists in '66-67 to set a new NBA record. He also picked up the scoring slack on the Bulls, netting 18.2 a game—the second-best mark of his career. Guy was rewarded for his fine play with his fourth and final All-Star selection. He played 28 minutes in a 135–120 victory and registered eight assists.

With Chamberlain playing like a man possessed, the 76ers went 69–13. Eight of their victories came against Guy and the Bulls. Finally, in their ninth meeting, Guy led Chicago to victory over his old teammate. The following week, the Bulls beat the Celtics. These victories inspired Chicago, and against all odds the team began closing in on a playoff spot.

In the season's final week, the Bulls pulled even with the Detroit Pistons for the final slot in the West. Chicago closed out the year with road wins over the Warriors and Lakers to finish with 10 victories in their final 15 games and a 33–48 record. In the imbalanced NBA, that was good for a trip to the postseason.

The Hawks ousted the Bulls in three straight games, but the season was an unqualified triumph. One wonders where Chicago might have gone had Guy stayed with the club, but the financially troubled franchise dealt him to the Royals the following fall for Flynn Robinson and cash. He played four games in Chicago before heading to Cincinnati.

Rick Barry, 1966 The Sporting News
     
 

Guy spent much of 1967–68 as the Big O’s backup, but when they were on the court together it was something to behold. Robertson had longed insisted that Guy was the best point guard he’d ever seen. When Robertson missed a series of games with a thigh injury, Guy filled his shoes nicely. The Royals were in the playoff hunt until the final week of the year. They finished a game behind the Pistons for the final slot.

With the ABA entering its second season and  expansion clubs being added in San Diego, Seattle, Phoenix  and Milwaukee, the basketball talent pool suddenly thinned. The Royals chose not to protect Guy in the expansion draft, and he was snapped up by the Milwaukee Bucks, who no doubt recalled his steadying influence on the Bulls two seasons earlier.

Coach Larry Costello played Guy about 25 minutes a game, alternating him with Jon McGlocklin and Flynn Robinson in the backcourt. Guy led the Bucks with 561 assists and scored in double-figures most games. Milwaukee won a respectable 27 games fielding a team featuring numerous journeymen. For Bucks fans, it was all about waiting for the following season, when they would get a shot at UCLA star Lew Alcindor.

In the summer of 1969, the Bucks flipped a coin with the Phoenix Suns and won the rights to Alcindor. They also drafted Bob Dandridge, a talented all-around forward. At 34, Guy played the role of elder statesman on the team. He logged about 15 minutes a game and contributed to a handful of victories as the Bucks improved to 56 wins.

In the playoffs, Milwaukee defeated the 76ers but fell to the Knicks in five games. All season long, the Bucks had flourished despite the lack of a true floor general. Everyone had chipped in, with the assists spread evenly across a handful of players, including Alcindor, who ranked second on the team with 4.1 per game. But against the savvy Knicks, this deficiency was exposed. In his heyday, Guy would have been the man to feed Milwaukee’s center, but by playoff time he no longer had the legs to go full-tilt more than 10 minutes a game.

After the season, the Bucks pulled off a deal with the Royals for Robertson. Eight months later, they were NBA champions. Guy had called it quits by then. His 1969–70 season was his last. Guy often said that he would hate to leave basketball feeling he had not given absolutely everything he had to give. And that’s just how he went out.

When Guy retired, he ranked third on the NBA’s all-time assists list with 6,917. He finished with 10,415 points. For his career, he averaged 11.7 points per game and 7.8 assists. In 46 playoff games his averages were a tick lower, at 11.0 and 6.2. From 1959–60 to 1966–67, Guy finished either first or second in the NBA in both assists and assists per game.

Oscar Robertson, 1966 Sport Heroes
     
 

Guy worked for more than a decade as a personnel executive for the Xerox Corporation, living on the West Coast until he returned to Philadelphia around 2000.

Over the years, Guy’s exclusion from the Hall of Fame puzzled many of the players who made it to Springfield. He tried to be philosophical about it, speculating that for some reason the “powers that be” didn’t want him enshrined. Years later, his old nemesis, Cousy, was shocked when he was told that Guy was not in the Hall of Fame. To Cousy, it was a no-brainer.

One of Guy’s biggest proponents, Chamberlain, openly questioned the Hall of Fame’s inaction, pointing out that, in his opinion, Guy was as a ballhandler and passer “better than Cousy or Jerry West or Robertson or Walt Frazier or Pete Maravich or anyone.”

Chamberlain’s advocacy might have cleared a path for Guy, but the Big Dipper died in 1999. Two years later, Guy passed away from a heart attack suffered while attending a movie on February 22, 2001. He was rushed to the hospital but did not pull through. Guy was 65.

Among the hundreds attending his funeral at the Shiloh Apostolic Temple in Philadelphia were Philly basketball greats Paul Arizin, Fred Carter, John Chaney, Bill Mlkvy, Al Attles and Sonny Hill. They were unanimous in their praise of Guy as a player, but all were quick to say he was an even better person—both during and after his basketball career.

“Guy’s on his way to Wilt now,” said one attendee at the funeral.

“And you know they’ll be starting a new league soon,” chimed in another.

In Feburary of 2014, Guy got the reocgnition he deserved and was elected to the Hall of Fame. Support around the basketball world for his enshrinement was universal. One of the sport’s glaring mistakes had finally been righted.

 

Guy Rodgers, 1969 Topps
 

 


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