LSU Gold

Statue Commissioned for Basketball Great Bob Pettit

by Kent Lowe (@LSUkent)
Statue Commissioned for Basketball Great Bob Pettit

BATON ROUGE – LSU Vice-Chancellor/Director of Athletics Joe Alleva announced on Friday that the LSU Athletics Department has commissioned a statue of LSU All-America and NBA star Bob Pettit, which is expected to be unveiled prior to the conclusion of the 2015-16 basketball season.

The life-size statue will be placed in the area in the front of the Basketball Practice Complex near the present location of the Shaquille O’Neal statue and next to the new LSU Gymnastics Practice Facility.

Pettit played at LSU in the 1952, 1953 and 1954 seasons. In his astonishing career at LSU, he earned All-America honors in 1953 and 1954 and All-SEC honors all three seasons. The Tigers won the SEC Championship in both 1953 and 1954 and advanced to LSU’s first NCAA Tournament Final Four in 1953.

Pettit in his three years scored 1,916 points, which remains the sixth highest career point total to this day in LSU history, averaging league leading scoring averages of 25.5 points in 1952, 24.7 in 1953 and 31.4 in 1954.

He pulled down 1,039 rebounds in his three seasons, a 14.8 rebounds per game average, and he is one of just four players in LSU history to have pulled down 1,000 or more rebounds in his career.

He was the first LSU player in any sport to have his number retired in 1954 and was elected to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 1971 and the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006. He is a member of the LSU Athletic Hall of Fame and the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and was selected to LSU’s All-Century Team in 2009.

“Bob Pettit’s LSU and NBA credentials speak volumes of his star quality and his lasting recognition as one of the stars of the game,” said Alleva. “He is truly an ambassador of the game of basketball, and for LSU, and we are honored to be able to soon dedicate this statue in his honor.”

Pettit was named one of the NBA’s 50 at 50 in 1997, commemorating the league’s 50th anniversary. The first round draft pick of the Milwaukee (later St. Louis) Hawks in 1954, would play 11 years in the NBA, earning all-star game selection 11 times. He was NBA Rookie of the Year in 1955, NBA regular season MVP in 1956 and 1959 and a 10-time All-NBA selection (1955, ’56, 1958-65).

Four times (1956, ’58, ’59, ’62), Pettit was the All-Star Game MVP and led the Hawks to five NBA Finals series, winning the title in 1958. He was first NBA player to score more than 20,000 points and averaged 26 points and 16 rebounds in his NBA seasons.

“This is the greatest honor that could ever be bestowed on me,” said Pettit about the statue. “It is great to be recognized at such a wonderful institution that has always held a very special place in my heart. I want to acknowledge all the individuals who have made this possible and give a special thanks to everyone that has helped me with all that I have accomplished in my life.”

Saturday, Pettit will celebrate birthdate number 83. He was born in Baton Rouge on Dec. 12, 1932, and LSU Athletics joins everyone in wishing Bob a Happy Birthday!

Further details on the statue unveiling will be available later in the year.