Ivy Hoops Online is excited to announce the return of Ivy 60 for 60, a run-through of 60 of the greatest players in Ivy League men’s basketball history after a hiatus to continue celebrating the 60th anniversary of modern Ivy League basketball. An Ivy 60 for 60 for Ivy women’s basketball will follow.
Bill Bradley, Princeton ’65, is arguably the greatest player in Ivy League history. It is not open to debate that he remains the most important player in league history. He put the national spotlight on Ivy hoops as a player. His accomplishments on and off the basketball court have enhanced the Ivy brand in countless ways in the five decades that have passed since his graduation.
Bradley’s accomplishments as a Tiger player defy easy description. For him, the three Ivy titles his teams captured mark the proudest achievements of his career, although his gold medal as the captain of the 1964 United States Olympic team rates very highly. He capped his legendary college career by leading the Tigers to the Final Four in 1965.
Along the way he set numerous individual records as a Tiger player, establishing a standard that few players have approached and none has surpassed. After 54 years, the following Tiger records remain firmly in the grasp of Bill Bradley:
- Career scoring: 2,503 points in three seasons (freshmen remained ineligible until 1972), nearly 900 more than the second place total. He did not compete in the three point era, in which he would have undoubtedly flourished.
- Season scoring: Bradley holds the three highest season totals.
- 40-point games: He scored 40 or more 11 times, including a 58 point outburst in his final game, the NCAA consolation game against Wichita State in 1965. No other Tiger player has scored 40 even once.
- Career scoring average: 30.2 ppg.
- Career field goals: 856, more than 200 ahead of the next highest total.
- Season field goals: Bradley has the two highest season totals.
- Free throws, game, season and career. He once made 21 of 21 against Cornell in 1963.
- Career rebounds: 1008
(Bradley’s name is not among the Tiger assist leaders for a very simple reason: his teammates wisely concluded that they were much better off with the ball in his hands.)
Following graduation Bradley studied at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. Upon his return the New York Knickerbockers were delighted to welcome “Dollar Bill” to Madison Square Garden, where he enjoyed a successful and productive 10-year career, highlighted by two memorable runs to the NBA title. Bradley’s playing style meshed perfectly with the superstar roster put together by coach Red Holzman, demonstrating a versatility that made everyone around him better. Knick management retired his number after his professional career closed.
He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1988.
Turning to public service, Bradley ran for the U.S. Senate in 1979. He represented New Jersey until 1997 and mounted an unsuccessful but memorable run for the Democratic nod in the 2000 U.S. presidential campaign. He has hosted a popular radio show, “American Voices,” on SiriusXM for several years and is a noted writer of nonfiction. Bradley’s very public career has kept Ivy League basketball in the spotlight in a very positive way long after he completed his college career.
Bill Bradley will always sit atop any compilation of the league’s greats.