We need to give a quick abraço to Helene Elliot at the LA Times. When Blake Griffin and Chris Paul were named starters on this year’s NBA All Star team Helene reminded us that many moons ago, the Clippers had another starter on the All Star squad. Lined up against an Eastern Conference team that was stacked with ballers like Julius Erving, Moses Malone, and George “The Ice Man” Gervin were a trio of Southern California Hall of Famers. Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul Jabbar were on the court to represent the Showtime Lakers and for the first (and until this year the only) time ever, there was a Clipper listed in the starting lineup. That man was one Lloyd Bernard “World B.” Free.
A product of Carnesie High in Brooklyn, the young Lloyd Free earned a name for himself playing street ball in the late 60s and early 70s. With 44″ hops and explosive speed, Free was known to embarrass fools on the way to the hoop, pulling 360 degree midair spins before throwing it down. Built more like a running back than a point guard, Free must have looked like a whirling 185-pound ball of fury shot out of orbit, hence the crowd at the black top dubbed him “World”. And it stuck. And in 1980 it became official when Lloyd Bernard legally changed his name to World B. — World B. Free.
Over the course of his eleven year NBA career, World’s stats were deserving of his name but no season was more spectacular than the 1980 All-Star campaign with the San Diego Clippers. World was indeed All-World, as he averaged over 30 points and almost 4 assists and 4 rebounds per game. That’s kinda sick.
And everything he did, he did with so much style. High arching shot, paralyzing head fake to drop-back J, spin move through the lane, and dude was notorious for kicking defenders in the nuts with his off foot when driving to the hoop (see video below at the 1:09 mark – the guy with the moustache gets straight crushed in the nards). The crotch kick wasn’t exactly stylish or classy… but it was damn funny. And he usually was the one taking the free throws while his victim was still gasping for air. As one commenter has noted, World was one jive ninja.
If you had to make a comparison to a more recent player though, you’d have to say that World at barely 6’2″ was like a proto-Allen Iverson. But unlike Iverson’s skinny-ripped little frame, World was one YOKED hombre who made modern-day cyborgs like Corey Maggette look soft. And god bless him, World had the most super-cool receding hairline we’ve seen on an athlete in over 30 years. The rules behind his tonsorial philosophy seem simple:
– What you lack in the front, make up for with big fat chops
– Embrace the backwards beard
– Whatever you got in the back… even if it’s just some Krusty Clown / Terry Bradshaw thing…
BLOW – – IT – – OUT!
Why? Because World would.
Since today’s Deportista del Día is a throwback, check this YouTube homage to Sr. World B. Free. And count the number of times you lose the ball out of frame. World’s jump shot was a work of pure artistry and only Purvis Short and a handful of other craftsman could put that much air under the ball with that much accuracy.