By David Jordan Jr
Basketball legend Spencer Haywood has been a part of various aspects of basketball and United States history. Growing up in Silver City, Mississippi, Haywood would pick cotton as a child and youth, while discovering and perfecting his talent in the game of basketball. Haywood would attend college first at Trinidad State Community College before transferring to the University of Detroit where he would 32.1 points per game while grabbing 21.5 rebounds per game.
Before transferring to the University of Detroit, Haywood would participate in the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City, Mexico. Representing the United States of America, Haywood would lead the team in scoring, averaging 16.1 points per game while shooting over 70% from the field.
After his one year at the University of Detroit, he would turn pro, joining the American Basketball Association due to the NBA not allowing underclassmen to be drafted. During his rookie year with the Denver Rockets of the ABA, Haywood would have a historic first season of professional basketball, as he would lead the ABA in scoring (30.0 ppg) and rebounding (19.5) en route to capturing Rookie Of The Year, ABA All-Star Game MVP and ABA Most Valuable Player.
Upon joining the Seattle Supersonic in the National Basketball Association (NBA) in 1970, Haywood would again make history, this time off the court. As eligibility rules prevented him from joining the NBA straight out of college, Haywood filed a suit against the NBA (Haywood v. National Basketball Association). His fight for the right to earn a living went to the U.S. Supreme Court, where the Supreme Court ruled in his favor, making it possible for players to turn pro straight out of high school or college.
Haywood talked to ESHE Magazine about his experience playing at the 1968 Olympic Games. Watch the interview HERE: