Oscar Schmidt Says He Would’ve Been One of the NBA’s 10 Best Players Ever

by September 09, 2013

Hall of Famer Oscar Schmidt never made it to the NBA during his glorious career in the 1970s and 80s. But had he balled in the League, Schmidt is extremely confident that he would’ve been among the very best of all time. Per NBA.com: “‘Yes,’ Schmidt said. ‘Anytime. It was easier, because in the NBA at that time it was one-on-one, always. One-on-one, I’m free. If it comes to two players guarding me, maybe.’ Insert big laugh. ‘I would be one of the best 10 ever.’ Schmidt officially entered the Hall of Fame on Sunday afternoon via the International committee as a Brazilian great who played in five Olympics, led the shocking upset of the United States in the title game of the 1987 Pan-American Games in Indianapolis, could score on anybody, and also starred in Italy. But the closest Schmidt got to the NBA was when the Nets drafted him in the sixth round in 1984. Signing with the NBA at that time would have meant being ineligible for the national team, and Schmidt was not willing to make that tradeoff. The Nets pursued him three years in a row, he said, but no way. After the rules were changed to allow the Dream Team to play in the 1992 Olympics, sure, except that Schmidt was 34 by the time of the historic Barcelona Games. It would be different under the current rules. ‘Give me two months of practice, I kill everybody else,’ he said Saturday at the Hall of Fame, the day before the induction ceremony. Another big laugh. ‘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.’ Schmidt was a 6-foot-9 scoring machine at small forward in the Larry Bird mold, able to shred defenses without beating many opponents in a race or a jumping contest. He could shoot and he was smart. Perfect, then, that Larry Bird agreed to be his presenter Sunday afternoon at Symphony Hall. Schmidt was asked what he would have averaged in the NBA and said, ‘One point a minute. Twenty minutes, 20 points. Forty minutes, maybe 60.'”