One of the very first players to routinely toss slick passes and weave through defenses with fancy dribbles, Bob Davies is a legend of the highest stylistic order. He is, after all, the man who brought the behind-the-back dribble to the big leagues.
The Rochester Rocket wasn’t all flash. There was definite substance behind his glitzy play.
As the leader of the Rochester Royals’ guard-heavy attack, Davies was Most Valuable Player of the NBL in 1947, an NBL champion in 1946, and an NBA champion in 1951. Over the course of his 10-year career, he was five times selected to an all-league 1st Team split between the NBL, BAA, and NBA.
Those Royals teams were something special. With Arnie Risen, Al Cervi, Bobby Wanzer, and Red Holzman, they were perennially among the best teams in whatever league they happened to be playing in thanks to their all-star roster concocted by their owner Les Harrison who spared no expense…
“Eber Bros. and Seagram [corporate sponsors of Harrison’s independent team] didn’t want to go big-time, and my brother and I mortgaged everything we had or could lay our hands on and we got a franchise in the National Basketball League, the only big league at the time. I think it cost us $25,000.”
Harrison’s independent outfit became the Royals of Rochester and won the NBL title in 1946, their first season in the league. Over the next decade the Royals sported a win percentage of .642, equivalent to winning 52 games every year in today’s NBA.
Davies was the only man around for every one of these seasons and was Rochester’s linchpin for success. He was a basketball mind who flashed his brilliance all over the court with deadly mid-range shots and blind passes. Opponents, when not ticked off on how he was beating them down, could only look on in bewilderment at how Davies manipulated the basketball.
Despite all the fanciness he could pull off, Davies was at his best when he simply rocketed straight ahead to the hoop with reckless abandon. His blinding speed coupled with his dexterity prevented any opponent from swiping the ball away. He’d get to the rack and finish with sinewy acrobatic layups.
And although the Royals have long since left Rochester, Davies’ #11 is retired by the Sacramento Kings. A respectful tribute that’s well deserved for perhaps that franchise’s greatest player.
Years Played: 1945 – 1955
All-NBL 1st Team (1947)
All-NBL 2nd Team (1948)
All-BAA 1st Team (1949)
3x All-NBA 1st Team (1950-’52)
All-NBA 2nd Team (1953)
4x All-Star (1951-’54)
NBL – 107 Games
11.0 PPG, 74.6% FT
BAA – 60 Games
15.1 PPG, 5.4 APG, 36.4% FG, 75.1% FT
APG Leader (1949)
NBA – 402 Games
14.2 PPG, 4.8 APG, 2.9 RPG, 38.0% FG, 75.7% FT
Contemporary BAA/NBA Ranks (1948-49 through 1954-55 season)
4th Assists, 4th APG
7th Points, 13th PPG
7th FGs Made, 27th FG%
10th FTs Made, 28th FT%
9th Games Played, 19th Minutes Played*
*stat not kept until 1951-52 season