Paul Arizin's hometown, Philadelphia, is fertile ground for basketball players. Greats such as Wilt Chamberlain, Earl Monroe, and Guy Rodgers cut their hoop teeth on the city's playgrounds. Arizin, on the other hand, never even turned out for basketball until his senior year at La Salle High School. He was cut from the team. Sixteen years later, he retired as the second-leading scorer in NBA history.
A hard-nosed 6'4" forward, Arizin (born April 9, 1928) matured into one of the best shooters of his generation. After high school, he enrolled at Villanova University without a scholarship, worked on basketball at night, and angled for a spot on the team. He made it his sophomore year, and a year later he set a school record with 85 points in a game. By his senior season, he was the nation's leading scorer (25.3) and the 1950 college Player of the Year. From there it was on to the Philadelphia Warriors.
When Arizin broke into the professional ranks, most players still shot flat-footed; "Pitchin' Paul" already had mastered a jump shot. His form was unusual because he kicked his legs back as he shot. His favorite area was the corner, though he was adept at pump-faking and driving around his man for a closer look at the basket. He won the scoring championship in 1951-52, his second season, with 25.4 points per game, denying George Mikan the crown for the first time in Mikan's career.
After two years of military service, Arizin returned for eight more seasons with the Warriors. In 1955-56, they defeated the Fort Wayne Pistons for the NBA championship. Arizin won a second scoring title the next season, and he poured in a career-high 49 points against the Boston Celtics in 1961.
Rather than move to San Francisco with the Warriors in 1962, Arizin retired from the NBA with 16,266 points, trailing only Dolph Schayes on the career leader board. Still eager to play, Arizin migrated to the Eastern League, where he continued his high-scoring ways with the Camden Bullets. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1977 and died in 2006.
For more on the greatest basketball players of all time, visit:
- Great Basketball Players
- Great Basketball Guards
- Great Basketball Forwards
- Great Basketball Centers
- Great Basketball Coaches