Bill Bradley of Princeton. Walt Hazzard of UCLA. Jeff Mullins of Duke. These were a few of the star collegians of the US Men’s basketball team that won the Gold Medal in 1964. But that championship team was also made up of members of the NIBL – The National Industrial Basketball League. Jerry Shipp of The Phillips 66ers, and Larry Brown, Pete McCaffrey and Dick Davis from the Goodyear Wingfoots.
The NIBL was an amateur league that provided a full-time job to basketball players, who would then practice and compete after a day’s work. As Shipp told me, this league thrived in the 1950s and 1960s as a legitimate competitor league to the NBA, successfully recruiting top players out of college because the pay was better, and retirement from basketball didn’t mean you were out of a job. Shipp himself was drafted by my hometown team, The New York Knicks, but chose to join Phillips.