The reason that players like James Worthy and Michael Jordan were able to leave college “early” and enter the NBA draft or later, Kobe Bryant and Lebron James could do the same from highschool was because Spencer Haywood challenged the system and won.
50 years ago, the concept of “one-and-done” or “early entry” was born after a landmark Supreme Court ruling and the landscape of pro basketball seismically shifted.
Today, Haywood, an Olympic gold medallist (1968), NBA Champion (1980) Hall of Fame Inductee (2015) and former star power forward in the ABA and NBA still wants the league to put some respect on his name – officially.
It is why his biography is titled – The Spencer Haywood Rule: Battles, Basketball and the making of an American Iconoclast.
Released last fall, it covers a life that began in the Jim Crow South, weaved through the Pacific Northwest, Broadway, Hollywood and Europe.
Along the way, Haywood built up the emotional baggage that followed with blazing a trail. Creating upheaval came with a cost and his legacy paid a price in the delay of his due respect.