Skip to main content

Bob Pettit - one of the first players to start lifting weights in the NBA

Bob-Petit

It was hard to predict that Bob Pettit will become one of the best power forwards in NBA history when he was growing up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Pettit was having trouble making his high school team at the time, even though he was tall and skinny. It wasn't until his third year he managed to make the team and finally show off all the hard work he put into becoming a better player. It didn't take long for Pettit to adapt, as he grew to 6'7'' by the end of his senior year and dominated, averaging 31 points per game in his final season.

Colleges didn't show too much interest in Pettit, but he eventually signed with the nearby Louisiana State University, which later became the home of names like Pete Maravich and Shaquille O'Neal. Although they weren't the strongest basketball team at the time, Pettit managed to bring some attention to himself, averaging 24.7ppg and 12.5rpg during his third year, leading LSU to their first SEC Conference Championship after 20 years and a Final Four appearance.

Pettit got drafted 2nd overall in the 1954 Draft and entered a new era of quicker NBA basketball due to the 24-second shot clock being introduced. Bob was far from the strongest player, but that didn't stop him from dominating all the other power forwards in the NBA, averaging 20.4 ppg and 13.8 rpg in his rookie season, winning the ROY award, first-team All-NBA honors, and an All-Star nod. It was the perfect start to an NBA career. Pettit would build on a hot start in his second season and already win his first MVP award, setting numerous statistical records.

Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

At 6'9'' and 215 lbs, Pettit wasn't strong enough to bang with the centers in the NBA, so he transitioned to the power forward position, a move that saved his career. Still, he wanted to get stronger to have a longer and better career, so after his second season, he hired a personal trainer and started lifting weights. A move that was rarely seen at that time, as coaches believed it could ruin a player's feeling for shooting and handling the ball. Even though he was the MVP at just 24 years old, Pettit felt he needed to get stronger. And that was precisely what he did, putting on about 10 pounds of muscle and becoming an even more dangerous player, vastly improving his rebounding.

He would go on to dominate the NBA for 11 years, winning the championship in 1958 by beating the infamous Celtics team led by Bill Russell, and notching numerous individual awards like 11x All-Star appearances, 2x MVP awards, 2x scoring titles, and many more, leaving a deep trail in Hawks and NBA history.

Pettit eventually retired in 1965, at just 32 years old, due to numerous injuries slowing him down at an alarming pace. He would retire as the first player in history with 20 000+ points and 10 000+ rebounds. Pettit's legacy would be remembered by his loyalty to the Hawks through his whole career and his reputation as one of the scrappiest players ever, known for his rebounding, especially on the offensive boards.

Too bad they weren't tracking stats for offensive rebounds at that time, but anyone who watched him play knows he was a menace to box out. Bob Pettit was a revolutionary player, proving you can combine strength and skill, securing his name in the history books as one of the best power forwards ever.

Willy Hernangomez says Zion Williamson is on a mission this season

Willy Hernangomez offers a frightening take on Zion Williamson ahead of this season -“He wants to destroy everybody”

Hernangomez said Williamson "wants to destroy everybody" in his return to the court after missing the entire 2021-22 season

James Harden said that his explosiveness is getting there after it was noticeably absent during his stint with the Sixers last season

James Harden and his quest to regain his explosiveness for the Philadelphia 76ers: "It's getting there"

Harden clearly wasn't himself during his first few months with the 76ers, but the good news is that he believes his explosiveness is getting back to what it used to be

Dirk Nowitzki at the 1998 Nike Hoop Summit

"Between practices I had to get tutoring in a separate room" - Dirk Nowitzki used to bring a tutor with him while traveling with Germany's junior national team

Dirk Nowitzki revealed that he had to bring a private tutor with him during his days with Germany's junior national team as he had to play and study at the same time.

Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson

"Are you willing to come back and be a coachable player?"-How Phil Jackson talked to Kobe Bryant before they reunited in 2006

The time Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson spent apart from each other made them realize that they needed each other to accomplish their goals.

Denver Nuggets mascot Rocky

Denver Nuggets mascot Rocky outearns several NBA players

Denver Nuggets mascot Rocky is closer to making a million each year than some NBA players on minimum contracts.

ben-wallace-darvin-ham-min

“I know he’s a great locker room guy!”- Ben Wallace believes Darvin Ham will do great things with the Lakers

Darvin Ham and Ben Wallace won a title together and their bond will forever remain tight.

Reggie Miller doing the choke sign

Reggie Miller on talking to New York Knicks fans: 'They love to come up and do the choke sign. They think it’s so cool'

Reggie Miller said most Knicks fans still hate him and they let him know about it by doing doing his iconic choke taunt in 1995.