Why Dolph Schayes Deserved to be on the NBA Top 75 List
Shivaanu Mahendrarajan and Austin Mardon
I would strongly consider myself an NBA fan in all ways. An NBA game is streamed on my living room’s television on most nights but on top of that, my feed on YouTube and Instagram is full of NBA content. This includes professional content such as clips from ESPN or casual content from smaller YouTubers and Instagram profiles. One thing that I have been noticing from content creators across all platforms is cries of saying that their favorite players were snubbed from the NBA’s Top 75 List. Some of these players include perennial All-Stars such as Dwight Howard, Klay Thompson, and most commonly brought up: Kyrie Irving. On top of this, I would also see slander for many of the older players on that list. But above all, the player I would see slandered the most would be a man by the name of Dolph Schayes.
This slander from these content creators was what had inspired me to choose to write this article: to not only defend the late great Dolph Schayes’s honor, but also his spot on the NBA’s Top 75 List. The contents of this article are as follows: a short summary of Schayes’ career as an NBA player followed by why I think casual fans are so quick to dismiss and attempt to discredit him. So without further ado, let’s get into it.
Who was Dolph Schayes?
Dolph Schayes was born in 1928, May the 19th and died on December 10th, 2015. He played in the NBA for 15 seasons on the Syracuse Nationals for the majority of those. Dolph Schayes was an NBA player who played the majority of his minutes at the power forward position but would also play as a center occasionally. Standing 6 foot 8 inches and weighing in at 220 pounds, he was one of the largest players of that era. He played his first season of NBA basketball way back in 1949, back when the league’s rules were vastly different from today (Basketball Reference, 2022).
It was said that even as a bigger player, he was one of the greatest shooters of his time, leading the league multiple times in free throw percentage. On the NBA’s player profile on Dolph Schayes, it says that Schayes’ “helped revolutionize post play with a high arching set shot” (NBA, 2022), which is further exemplified with his nickname of “The Rainbow Kid.” On top of all this, Schayes was the leader in points for a short period of time as hé was the first NBA player to ever score over 15 thousand total points. Lastly, he led the league in rebounds in his second season. These achievements and abilities net him 12 All-Star selections, 12 All-NBA Team selections, and the 1955 Championship.
Why Slander Schayes?
As sports fans, NBA fans are heavily prone to recency bias. But what is recency bias? Recency bias is the bias that favors more recent events over more historic ones (Hayes, 2022). This bias is especially present in Schayes’ scenario as this is a player who played his last season in the NBA almost 60 years ago. The majority of people alive today have never seen him play live. In fact, most people today haven’t even seen a single clip of him playing as there are so few clips that even exist of him. On top of this, the clips that do exist, such as this, are not nearly as flashy nor as exciting as some of the NBA’s stars today, which is another talking point people use against Schayes.
However, I believe that this is not a valid point and I will discuss why. It is common knowledge that everything that exists today is a stronger copy of what existed before it. This is true with basketball as well. The players of today have more resources to learn from. For example, many players of today have had tutoring sessions with retired NBA legends like Hakeem Olajuwon, or the late great Kobe Bryant. Even when they were still in college or even high school, the athletes of today have thousands of hours of film to study and learn from. Who did Dolph Schayes have to tutor him? Whose film did he study? He was one of the pioneers of the NBA, meaning there was nobody before him to learn from. And even if there were, film as a piece of technology was still a luxury so there’s no telling if he would have had access to it.
The bottom line is, the pioneers paved the way for future generations to build upon the foundations they set. People always discuss whether Stephen Hawking or Albert Einstein was the smarter individual, but there’s no objective way to tell as Stephen Hawking’s work is directly based on Einstein’s in many ways. It should be known that in Einstein’s time, his formulas and contributions as a physicist were known only by him. But today, E=MC2 is taught in high school physics classrooms. In fact, way back in ancient Greece, Pythagoras, the person the Pythagorean theorem is named after, was one of the smartest of his time. But today, his theorem is taught to in grade 5 math classrooms. So while yes, Dolph Schayes’ abilities and skillset may seem very unimpressive when viewing them in today’s context, we need to remember that for his time, what he was doing was considered revolutionary and should not be taken out of context. And when keeping all of this in mind, it becomes clear that Dolph Schayes deserves his spot on the NBA’s Top 75 Team.
So there you have it: why Dolph Schayes deserved to be on the NBA Top 75 Team. Hopefully, you have enjoyed reading this article and got something positive out of it, whether this is from learning about the revolutionary career of Schayes, or from the lesson I hope you learn from this article I drew at the end that context matters. So the next time you say that a player of a sport today would be much better than a player from the last century, or if you’re just comparing anything from today to something of the past, make sure you keep historical context in mind to avoid making farfetched assumptions.
Basketball Reference. (2022). Dolph Schayes stats. Basketball Reference. Retrieved March 26, 2022, from https://www.basketball-reference.com/players/s/schaydo01.html
Hayes, A. (2022, February 22). Recency (availability) bias definition. Recency (Availability) Bias. Retrieved March 26, 2022, from https://www.investopedia.com/recency-availability-bias-5206686
NBA Media Ventures, LLC. (2021, September 13). Legends profile: Dolph Schayes. Retrieved March 26, 2022, from https://www.nba.com/news/history-nba-legend-dolph-schayes
NBA Media Ventures, LLC. (2022). Dolph Schayes. Dolph Schayes | NBA's 75 Anniversary | NBA.com. Retrieved March 26, 2022, from https://www.nba.com/75/player/dolph-schayes-78076