I'm a big time sports fan. I am a fan of the Packers since 1967, Cubs and Celtics since 1969 and Indiana Pacers since 1970.
The State Of Indiana
The state of Indiana is well known for their love of basketball. The movie "Hoosiers" was based on a real life basketball team from Indiana. In the early 1950's a small school won the single class state High School basketball tournament. It was the height of Hoosier Hysteria.
The Indiana High School Athletic Association change from a single class basketball tournament to multiple classes in the 1980's. Sadly, Hoosier Hysteria has diminished, however, you still see a love for basketball in the state. Most barns have basketball goals attached and in the cities, kids still go play basketball in the parks.
As I came up with the idea for this article, I thought it was going to be very tough figuring out the best player born in the state of Indiana. Unfortunately during my research, I discovered that the great Oscar Robertson was actually born in Tennessee. His parents moved to Indianapolis when he was a little over a year old. He does not technically fit in the category of being born in Indiana, however, he was raised in Indiana and deserves a mention.
Robertson won 2 High School state championships in Indiana. He went on to star at the University of Cincinnati.
In his second year in the NBA, he AVERAGED a triple double. He averaged 30.8 ppg, 12.5 rpg and 11.4 apg. For his NBA career, he averaged 25.7 ppg, 7.5 rpg and 9.5 apg.
Robertson made 12 all-star teams and won league MVP award. He was also the starting Point Guard for the 1970-71 NBA Champion Milwaukee Bucks.
Number 10 - Zach Randolph
Randolph played 17 seasons in the NBA and made 2 all-star teams.
Randolph averaged 16.6 points per game; 9.1 rebounds per game and 1.8 assists per game in his NBA career.
Jim "Goose" Ligon
Number 9 - Jim "Goose" Ligon
First off, with a nickname like Goose, you have to consider him. Add to that the fact that he was born in a city with a cool name like Kokomo and you really have to take a look at him.
Goose deserves on this list because of his success in basketball, not just because of his cool nickname or the city where he was born. Goose played 7 seasons in the ABA, most with the Kentucky Colonels. He averaged 12.8 points per game; 10.9 rebounds per game and 2.1 assists per game in his ABA career. Ligon made 1 all-star team and his career average of 10.9 rebounds per game is the second highest among Indiana born professional basketball players.
Number 8 - Gordon Hayward
Gordon Hayward is at number 7 simply because he is still playing. He will most likely move into the top 5 before his career is over.
Hayward is well known in Indiana for the time he spent leading Butler University to the NCAA Championship game against Duke. As of this writing, Hayward has played 10 seasons in the NBA and has made 1 all-star game. His career averages are currently 15.3 points per game; 4.4 rebounds per game and 3.5 assists per game.
Number 7 - Tom Van Arsdale
The first of the Van Arsdale twins makes the list. The Van Arsdale's were well known in Indiana basketball in the 1960's. The Van Arsdale twins were on the Indianapolis Manual High School team that lost to Kokomo (and Goose Ligon) in the 1961 State basketball championship game. They went on to attend Indiana University
In the NBA, Tom Van Arsdale played 12 seasons for multiple teams. He averaged 15.3 points per game; 4.2 rebounds per game and 2.2 assists per game for his NBA career. He also made 3 all-star games.
Tom & Dick Van Arsdale
Number 6 - Shawn Kemp
Kemp played 14 seasons in the NBA and made 6 all-star games. Only 2 other players born in Indiana played in more all-star games than Kemp.
Kemp played his first 8 season with Seattle before going on to Cleveland, Portland and Orlando. Kemp averaged 14.6 points per game; 8.4 rebounds per game and 1.6 assists per game in his NBA career.
Number 5 - Dick Van Arsdale
Dick Van Arsdale had a very similar career to his twin brother Tom, however, Dick was slightly more successful.
Dick Van Arsdale played 12 seasons in the NBA. The first 3 were with the New York Knicks, he then played the final 9 seasons with the Phoenix Suns. Dick Van Arsdale averaged 16.4 points per game; 4.1 rebounds per game and 3.3 assists per game. He also made 3 all-star games.
The Van Arsdale twins did not get to play on the same team until their final season in the NBA. They were both on the Phoenix Suns for the 1976-77 season and both of them retired following that season.
Number 4 - Louie Dampier
Now we get into the top 4. All 4 of these players are in the Basketball Hall of Fame.
Louie Dampier was one of the greatest players in the history of the ABA. Dampier played 9 seasons with the Kentucky Colonels and then when the ABA and NBA merged, he played 3 seasons with the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA. He was a member of the 1975 ABA Champion Kentucky Colonels.
Dampier averaged 15.9 points per game; 2.6 rebounds per game and 4.9 assists per game in his professional basketball career. Dampier made 7 ABA all-star games. Dampier is also the all-time leader in points scored in the ABA. He scored 13,726 points while playing in the ABA.
Number 3 - Clyde Lovellette
Clyde Lovellette was a 6'9" Center that was the first player in history to play on an Olympic Gold Medal team; NCAA Championship team and NBA Championship team.
Lovellette played 11 years in the NBA beginning with the 1953-54 season and ending with the 1963-64 season. Lovellette was on 3 NBA Championship teams. The 1954 Minneapolis Lakers; 1963 Boston Celtics and 1964 Boston Celtics.
Lovellette made 4 all-star teams and averaged 17.0 points per game; 9.5 rebounds per game and 1.6 assists per game for his NBA career.
Number 2 - George McGinnis
George McGinnis was a 6'8" 230 pound forward that could do it all.
McGinnis played 4 seasons in the ABA (all with the Indiana Pacers) and 8 seasons in the NBA. In his 4 ABA seasons, he made 3 all-star teams, won 2 ABA Championships, led the league in scoring in 1974-75 (29.8 ppg) and in 1974-75 shared the MVP award with Julius Erving. McGinnis also made 3 all-star teams in his 8 NBA seasons.
McGinnis has career averages of 20.2 points per game; 11.0 rebound per game and 3.7 assist per game. His scoring average in the ABA of 25.2 points per game (minimum 250 games played) is third all-time, only Julius Erving and Dan Issel have higher per game averages.
McGinnis began having physical issues due to his physical style of play and lack of taking care of himself. McGinnis' career ended at the age of 31. Had he taken better care of himself, he probably could have played another 3-5 years and who knows what kind of stats he could have put up.
Larry Bird Highlights
Number 1 - The Legend
Larry Bird has to be number 1. Had Oscar Robertson been born in Indiana, it would have been a tough decision but I still would have to give the nod to Bird.
Larry Bird played 13 seasons in the NBA, all with the Boston Celtics. His battles with Magic Johnson were historic and a key ingredient in elevating the NBA to where it is today.
Bird led the Celtics to 3 NBA Championships in his 13 seasons, he made 12 all-star teams (missing one due to injury); won the 1979-80 Rookie of the Year; was a 3 time NBA MVP; 10 All NBA Team; 2 time NBA Finals MVP and 3 times made the All Defensive Team.
Bird averaged 24.3 points per game; 10.0 rebounds per game and 6.3 assist per game for his NBA career. You can see why one of his nicknames is "Larry Legend". Bird is easily the best basketball player born in the state of Indiana, he is probably one of the top 5 basketball players ever.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2020 Art West