Oscar Schmidt is a legendary basketball player from Brazil who is being inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame this weekend.
He was a star in international play during the 70s and 80s, but never played in the NBA because it would have meant that he’d be ineligible to play for his country at that time.
If Schmidt had played NBA basketball, he believes he would have been one of the game’s 10 best players of all time.
He said he would have been one of the 10 best players in the NBA if the basketball world had been different in the 1970s and ‘80s, and he came to the United States. And not one of the 10 best in the league. One of the 10 best ever,
“Yes,” Schmidt said. “Anytime. It was easier, because in the NBA at that time it was one-on-one, always. One-on-one, I’m free. If it comes to two players guarding me, maybe.”
Insert big laugh.
“I would be one of the best 10 ever.”
Schmidt was drafted by the Nets in 1984, but he declined the opportunity to play in the states. In 1992 the eligibility rules for international play changed, and he could have jumped to the NBA then — except that at age 34, it was a little bit too late.
Schmidt was a pure shooter who could get his shot off almost anywhere over a single defender, and it’s very possible his claim might’ve come true. The laughs at the press conference weren’t intended to mock Schmidt’s statements — rather, they were a joyful response to the confidence he maintains, even now at age 55.