I recently got to interview basketball legend Wali Jones, who won the NBA Championship with Wilt Chamberlain and the 76ers in 1967. We talked about some basketball history, as well as the Masters Basketball Association Tournament that’s going on this week in Florida. The MBA tourney features high competition across teams with age groups from 40+ all the way up to 70+. Enjoy this conversation with an NBA Champion:
Hi Wali! Thanks for taking the time to talk. First of all, you’ve had a very impressive history. I saw you went to the same high school as Wilt Chamberlain?
He was before me, but the team I played on after was very good. My brother played on two champion teams with him actually. I played with Wayne Hightower, and we were 84-4 in high school. I went to prep school, graduated in February and played with some of the great public league players and we were 18-1.
What was it like then going to the NBA and having a lot more competition?
Well, first the opportunity to play at Villanova was a tremendous thing, with the big five. We accomplished so much there, and some of the great NBA players played on that team. Jim Washington, Richie Moore. Those are guys I played with who made it to the next level. Then to be drafted by the guy who was the first African American to play in the NBA, Earl Lloyd. I eventually made it onto the Baltimore Bullets where I made the NBA All-Rookie Team there as a rookie. Just a footnote, I just left the owner of the Baltimore Bullets, Earl Foreman. We just had a reunion with the Virginia Squires at Virginia Beach, so that’s where I’m coming from.
Oh cool! How was that?
Oh wonderful. Dr. James, Charlie Scott, and even my teammate from the Utah Stars Jumbo Aikens was there. So it was a big reunion reminiscing about things like what we were just talking about, the opportunity to play in the NBA and ABA. It was outstanding to play with some of the greatest ballplayers of that time. I think there were only 18 teams so it was a great opportunity. Read the rest of this entry →