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Alex Groza

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Alex Groza is both a famous and infamous figure in basketball history. The 6' 7 Martins Ferry, Ohio product was an early star for Adolph Rupp's U. Of Kentucky Wildcats in the late 1940s. Brother Lou starred for the AAC and NFL Cleveland Browns. The biggest star on a loaded Wildcats roster, Groza keyed national championships for Kentucky. A quick athletic big man for the day, the 225-pound Groza could score and rebound on any center of the time. Groza's Wildcats won the 1948 U.S. Olympic trials and all five Kentucky starters led that gold medal team for the USA. When the five were signed together to form the NBL Indianapolis Olympians, the BAA moved immediately for a merger in 1949. The following year the league became the NBA. Groza was a three year First Team All-NBA player, with Ralph Beard his long-time point guard, making Indianapolis a NBA contender. He led the NBA in scoring, rebounds and in field goal percentage for a full season. However, investigations found that Groza had taken pay while at Kentucky, and that he had even thrown games for fixers. While the investigation was careful not implicate other stars from the East, Groza and Beard were banned from the NBA as players for life, a very harsh penalty for a few thousand dollars. A bitter Groza later managed and coached in both the ABL and ABA, finishing with the Kentucky Colonels. Had he played, he likely would have been a ten-year NBA All-Pro. Instead, the Olympians folded, and bitter Indianapolis fans instead supported a ABA franchise in 1967. His treatment greatly effect pro basketball in that city for decades. He still later became a Hall Of Famer based on his college career.



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Alex Groza

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