Deportista del Día: World B. Free

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…

Makes Ben Wallace look like Erkle.

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.


So pretty.


Un pensamiento en “Deportista del Día: World B. Free

  1. Bro,

    Classic post on World B. Free (does that make Metta his cousin?) yes he was the original and as an original World B fan, I must take exception with one detail. My understanding at the time (yes, i was watching Chick call games with World that year — when the Lakers played the Clip’s) Chick loved world’s leg kick. Which amazingly he did on jump shots. he would kick his legs out as he was shooting, even from 20. he didn’t always hit the nut sack, but he often got a call. chick would marvel at it and point it out on replays (jump shots where he usually hit leg or body not sack. not quite as hilarious as chick saying (perhaps about world) ‘wow, he is built keith [erickson his sidekick of the time] i saw him in the shower the other day, water glistening off his muscular back, quite a specimen’ — a true quote. as to the name, my recollection is that it came from the ultimate, as in that guy is all city, well that guy is all state, that guy is all american, well…Lloyd he was all world. and as a clever guy i couldn’t help tha tlike metta he was making a political statement via his last name. No one, has had the arc that he had on his shot. Purvis was the only legacy to his shot. there were folks who argued that world came from the fact that his shot had so much arc that it almost left the earth’s orbit. so kudos for calling out one of the all time greats… as a footnote, i watched him play live as a clipper and a warrior and when i worked at the DOE i was the closer that closed down Canarsie High…doh!

¿y… qué crees?

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