Only one man, Bob Pettit, has ever meant more to St. Louis basketball, and even his stature above Ed Macauley is highly debatable. Macauley was born in St. Louis. He was raised in St. Louis. He went to high school and college in St. Louis. And he debuted as a professional basketball player in St. Louis.
However, it was not the St. Louis Hawks that drafted Macauley back in 1949. In fact, they were still the Blackhawks and were in the Tri-Cities, years away from relocating to Missouri. It was, instead, the Bombers of St. Louis that gave Macauley his pro break at the tender age of 21.
The young center was extremely lanky and thin. Standing at 6’8″, Macauley would never get much beyond 190 lbs. for the duration of his career. This meant he’d be routinely out-muscled on the boards by bigger, stronger post players, but that doesn’t mean Macauley didn’t often get the upper hand against other centers.
For starters, “Easy Ed” was a superb passer. Even if you did succeed in muscling him away from the basket, but Macauley could nail cutting teammates with precision. For the 1950s, Macauley (a center remember) finished with the eighth most assists of all NBA players. To this day, Macauley ranks 11th all-time amongst centers in assists per game. Although he never set the world on fire with his board work, Macauley did produce five seasons of eight-plus rebounds per game.
Finally, of course, the string bean Macauley was a terrorizing scorer. He was one of the avant-garde players who took jump shots, possessed a fantastic hook shots, and finished trailing layups on the fastbreak all with ease. So much ease in fact, that in 1954 he set a new NBA record by shooting 48.6% from the field for an entire season.
His all-around play could be best encapsulated in 1953 when averaged 20 points, 9 rebounds and 4 assists per game. Since that season, the Macauley Line, as I call it has been replicated by 26 other players, but Ed was the very first.
All of these wonderful tales and examples of Macauley’s greatness may have started in St. Louis with the Bombers, but that was for only one season. After his rookie year in 1949-50, the Bombers folded and the Boston Celtics picked up Macauley, who in his first year with Boston would be the very first All-Star Game MVP. Teaming with Bob Cousy and Bill Sharman to form Boston’s first Big Three, Macauley helped turn Boston into a perennial playoff team, but they never got over the hump and into the Finals. His deficient rebounding just couldn’t be masked with the roster as it was constructed.
So, prior to the 1956-57 season, Red Auerbach orchestrated a trade to send Cliff Hagan‘s draft rights and Macauley to Hawks, who had by now moved to Ed’s hometown St. Louis, in exchange for the draft rights to Bill Russell. Macauley would play just two more full seasons in the NBA, and those as a reserve to the aforementioned Bob Pettit, and the rising star in Hagan. But they were two luxurious years for Macauley, nonetheless.
The Hawks met Boston for the title both seasons losing in seven games in 1957, and then capturing the title in 1958 in six games in the rematch. After just 14 games in the 1959 season, Macauley retired and took up the reins as St. Louis’ coach. In 1960, he’d coach the club to yet another Game 7 loss to his old club, the Boston Celtics, in the Finals.
The St. Louis legend just couldn’t seem to extricate himself from attachments to the Boston Celtics. Only fitting, though, since both cities owe so much hard-earned success to a man who was so easy.
Seasons Played: 1950 – 1959
3x All-NBA 1st Team (1951-’53)
All-NBA 2nd Team (1954)
7x All-Star (1951-’57)
All-Star Game MVP (1951)
NBA – 641 Games
17.5 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 3.2 APG, 43.6% FG, 76.1% FT
2x FG% Leader (1953-’54)
Contemporary NBA Ranks (1950 – 1958)
2nd Points, 9th PPG
2nd FTs Made, 30th FT%
2nd FGs Made, 4th FG%
6th Assists, 14th APG
11th Rebounds, 24th RPG
3rd Games Played, 4th Minutes Played