Born: September 25, 1927
Died: February 10, 2010
New York Knicks (1947-’61)
Boston Celtics (1961-’62)
At 6’5″, Carl Braun was the first great shooting guard to be of such immense height. Not until Oscar Robertson in the early 1960s would such a tall player be so instrumental at guard. And Braun was certainly an instrument of offensive destruction.
Braun’s career began in the 1947-48 BAA season. In just his 11th professional game, Braun erupted for 47 points against the Providence Steamrollers as his New York Knicks devastated the opponent 114 to 85. Braun’s outburst was a new record mark for points in a single game. Along the way he also set marks for field goals made in a game (18) and points scored in one half (31).
Unfortunately, though, Braun’s pro career was rudely interrupted by two years of military service in 1951 and 1952. Upon his return it became quite clear he didn’t miss a beat. Although never again matching that individual scoring outburst of his rookie campaign, he returned to the Knicks better than he was before his duty with Uncle Sam. Now in the NBA, Braun’s field goal percentage (33% to 40%) and free throw percentage (71% to 82%) rose quite respectably. This improvement allowed Braun to score the same amount of points (his average always hovered around 15 PPG), but on fewer shots.
Braun also became more and more of a facilitator on offense. His assists jumped from a mediocre 1.3 in 1948 to 5.5 by 1958, which was good enough for fifth in the NBA that season. This increasing shift from shooting guard to point guard for Braun can be explained by his teammates. Early in his career he had the fortune of playing off of the great point guard Dick McGuire. Later in his career, he played alongside the scoring machine Richie Guerin.
Although he captured an NBA title in 1962 during his lone season with the Boston Celtics, Braun spent every other year of his career with the New York Knicks. He helped guide New York to the NBA Finals in 1953 where they lost to George Mikan’s Minneapolis Lakers. That was the last time New York made the Finals until 1970.
Braun routinely had the touch to propel the Knickerbockers to last-second victories. In March 1950, he nailed a long-range set shot to down the St. Louis Bombers in overtime. While in January 1954, he made only one basket in a game, but it happened to be the last one and defeated the Philadelphia Warriors.
When he left the Knicks in 1961, Braun was their all-time leader in points, games played, minutes played and field goals made. He also staked out a second-place claim on free throws made and assists dished. Braun’s prime-time play is now 60 years in the past, yet, he still remains high up in the Knicks’ leader board: games (4th), minutes (9th), field goals (7th), free throws (5th), assists (4th), and points (5th).
His shooting style may have been a peculiar over-the-head style, but Braun’s career still remains under-the-radar.
NBA Champion (1962)
All-BAA 2nd Team (1949)
All-NBA 2nd Team (1950)
5x All-Star (1953-’57)