Born in Brazil in 1958, Oscar Schmidt may be the greatest basketball player you’ve probably never heard of.
Why, you ask?
He scored 49 thousand 7 hundred and 37 total points.
To put this into perspective, it was more than 11 thousand more than the famous player Kareem Abdul Jabbar.
Still not impressed, then get this.
He played in Olympics 5 times and averaged 28.8 ppg.
So, is Oscar Schmidt the greatest player ever?
Since he never played a single game in an NBA jersey, he is often underrated when it comes to basketball. Nonetheless, we ought to keep this great player always remembered.
He was drafted by the then-New Jersey Nets in the 1984 draft but declined to accept the offer to continue playing for the Brazilian national team.
Up until 1989, players in the NBA could not play in the Olympics to represent their respective nations. One team who will never forget his name is the United State’s 1987 Pan American team, who found out first hand just how great Oscar Schmidt was.
The U.S.A squad came into that game on a 34 game win streak, being the heavily favored team over the Brazilians.
The team (United States) was filled with young talent, names including Rex Chapman, Danny Manning, and David Robinson. Chapman, Manning, and Robinson lead the team in scoring.
And they were on the lookout to shut down the games being played at home, with these Pan American Games being held in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Schmidt would only score 11 first-half points, while the Americans took a 68-54 lead.
Things would shift completely in the second half, where Schmidt caught fire scoring 35 points. He would shoot 7-15 from behind the three-point arc, also making key free throws to clinch the game for Brazil, going 13-15 from the line.
Brazil shocked the world, capturing a 120-115 point victory behind Oscar’s 46 points. Mão Santa, when translated to English stands for The Holy Hand, Schmidt would earn this nickname in his home country after this performance to win Gold.
Playing a total of 29 years at the shooting guard/small forward position, yes you read that right, TWENTY-NINE years for three different countries, Schmidt would retire on May 26th, 2003 at the age of 45. Those 29 years are the record for most in a career for any player ever. Finishing his career with a total of 49,737 points scored, which’s 11,350 more than NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Even if you factored in Kareem’s playoff totals, he would still fall 5,588 points short. Schmidt leads the league in scoring 16 times during his career.
His best Olympic performance came in the summer of 1988, scoring 335 points to average 41.9 per game. In 38 Olympic games, he is the only player to ever score more than 1000 points with an average of 28.8ppg, a record still held today. Another NBA living legend, Kobe Bryant, recalls watching Oscar play when he was a child living it Italy.
Bryant once referred to a thought related to if Schmidt would have ever suited up in the NBA.
When I was growing up over there, he was a living legend” also saying of Schmidt, “No question, he would have been one of the greatest.
Oscar Schmidt finally got the recognition he deserved in 2013, when he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Next time you find yourself talking about the greatest players to ever do it, don’t forget the name Oscar Schmidt aka A Mão Santa, the Holy Hand of Brazil.