Friday, March 27, 2009


Born first to triple double


Damn it, it’s time to stop shortchanging B.H. Born, a Kansas University basketball immortal who triple-doubled before we ever heard of Wilt Chamberlain or Cole Aldrich. Bert did it in a national championship game en route to being chosen most valuable player for the 1953 NCAA Final Four. No wonder his jersey is honored in Allen Fieldhouse.

Figure filberts went darn near orgasmic when sophomore Cole Aldrich got 13 points, 20 rebounds and 10 blocks against Dayton for the first official triple-double in Jayhawk history. There was, however, suitable recognition that the incomparable Wilt Chamberlain had at least two unofficial triple-doubles against Marquette (39-22-14) in 1956 and Colorado (40-13-12) in 1957.

But no reference to Born’s 26 points, 15 rebounds and 13 blocked shots, while battling a horrendous cold, in KU’s 69-68 loss to Indiana in the 1953 college title game. Indiana kept driving on B.H., a superlative defender, and fouled him out with 5:36 to go. Hoosier star Don Schlundt scored 30 points. But it was the willowy Medicine Lodge Pole from Kansas who was voted the tourney MVP, a heroic warrior who at 6-9 didn’t even break 200 pounds. Never admired any athlete more than I do Bert.

As for Wilt, Born helped bring him to Kansas while starring for the potent AAU Peoria Caterpillar-Diesels. Why not the NBA? Bert said a pro coach took him up to the Catskills in the mid-50s to evaluate a promising high school control tower from Philadelphia. B.H. said Chamberlain turned him inside out in workouts and he decided he’d do his best to steer Uncle Dippy to KU. Bert also concluded that if that was the kind of guy, along with Bill Russell, that he’d have to face in the NBA, he’d be better off to stay in the AAU ranks, which in those days were on the NBA level.

Again, the Born and Chamberlain triple-doubles at KU (Wilt actually had more than two) were unofficial. The NCAA started keeping track of rebounds in 1950-51, assists in 1983-84 and blocks in 1985-86. So those Born-Wilt feats had to be informalized until Aldrich came along to officialize a 10-plus, 10-plus, 10-plus performance for KU. Clyde Lovellette had 810 rebounds for 1950-51-52. No blocks listed.

Just think of all the college guys, like Born and Wilt, whose resumes are discounted because of too-late inclusion of assists and blocks. Wonder how many dishes Bob Cousy and Oscar Robertson had. Or how many blocks Bob Kurland and Bill Russell actually registered as collegians.

Research by the late Don Pierce, KU sports publicist par excellence, showed Chamberlain had 182 confirmed blocks in ’56-57, an average of just under seven per game. He missed two games in ’57-58, but had 120 rejections, thus a two-year total of 302. Greg Ostertag is considered the KU record-holder for swats with 258 in four seasons, still 44 short of Chamberlain’s two-year number.

KU’s Cole Aldrich now has 90 blocks, eight shy of Ostertag’s single-season record. How about a 10-swat game against Michigan State?

But B.H. Born and Wilt were in the triple-double bin eons before Aldrich, official or not.

Still, let’s not forget Bert Born went 3-D first.


Lindsey Buscher 13 years, 3 months ago

"...before we ever heard of Wilt Chamberlain..."

Cmon old-timer, you know you had at least heard of Chamberlain while Born was playing for us, he was pretty much a legend before he put on a Kansas uniform.

jayharchitect 13 years, 3 months ago

Did Mayer just use the word "orgasmic"!?!?!?

5DecadeHawk 13 years, 3 months ago

The History behind KU Basketball is integral to the greatness of our program. KU fans that would shuffle it aside are doing a disservice to KU. I have no doubt that sometime in the 2050's another KU great will have a fantastic Triple Double performance. Kids from today will be telling their grandchildren about Cole Aldrich's game against Dayton. That's how it should be.

Cole's achievement is noteworthy, not because Wilt and Born's performances are unofficial, but because Cole has added onto them. KU's legendary status grows with each accomplishment.

Also worthy of note is that KU very likely has other unofficial triple double performances that have been lost to time. How many outstanding guards for KU may have unofficially trip/dubed with Points/Rebounds/Assists?

Darnell Valentine? Jo Jo? Perhaps even someone we wouldn't expect?

I don't know the answers, and I doubt any of us will ever really know.

I just hope KU players keep performing their best on basketball's biggest stage to bring home championships.

Maybe Tyrel, Brady, Mario, Cole, and the Twins will knock down their open shots to cash in assists from Sherron's great passes tonight? Could Sherron will add his name yet again to KU lore with an Assists based Triple Double?

Whatever it takes to get the win is fine by me.

NebraskaJayhawk 13 years, 3 months ago

Thought you were more tasteful than that, Mayer. Way to start and article....Wouldn't "Darn it..." have been a little more classy?

63Jayhawk 13 years, 3 months ago

Nice article Bill. Thanks for keeping us informed about KU's glorious history!!

imzcount 13 years, 3 months ago

"Areyouserious" Why don't YOU get a grip, you young whippersnapper!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ryan Wood 13 years, 3 months ago

I liked the article a lot. Thanks for keeping us in tune with the past.

Jfanallways 13 years, 3 months ago

Shows how great KU is we are one of the blue bloods and nationally respected by everyone but espn and no one truly knows how good we really were imagine the respect if we did have the stats to show how much better teams past were

Clarence Haynes 13 years, 3 months ago

puggy and areyouserious.....c'mon.....respect your elders! it is good to have someone around who can tell us about our rich and historic tradition.

MinnesotaJay 13 years, 3 months ago

Thanks for the article. I wish I could have seen Born play. Without him, we wouldn't have won it all in 1952, and if he hadn't fouled out in 1953, we'd have had back-to-back titles. There's every reason to make sure we respectfully remember the players on whose shoulders our tradition rests.

John Randall 13 years, 3 months ago

Did Mayer just use the word "orgasmic"!?!?!?

Don't get too excited by the vocabulary -- he just meant the writers "got their rocks off."

4mertiger 13 years, 3 months ago

I'm confused. I really thought we'd had some triples with assists (I know Cole is first with blocks). Kirk Hinrich had a triple his rookie year in the NBA. He was the first (and I believe only) pro from his supposedly "greatest class" (LeBron, D. Wade, et al) to get one their first year. I think he's had at least one more since then, and I thought he did it for the Hawks.

Mike Crosbie 13 years, 3 months ago

Excellent Article !! It was said by announcers at many KU games that the history of KU Basketball is THE history of basketball. As excited or maybe a little orgasmic as I was when Cole got his trip-dub, It made me wonder of all the "unofficial" tri-dubs in our past. Thanks Bill Mayer !!! Although we only have 3 NCAA National Championships, I was shouting out- but we have 5 total national Championships including the 2 that are not recognised by the NCAA. Well we can't count on the NCAA to keep track of all that KU has accomplished before the NCAA existed.

TO Bill Mayer: Wonderfull job writing about this, and PLEASE don't stop with this article. KU has a lot to be proud of and with each passing year the greats such as BH Born tend to get lost in the background, especially with some of the younger fans and posters here. Since we are the history of college basketball, we need to keep our history alive.

One of my pet peeves is that some of the greatest coaches in the game are not recognised for being known as branches sprouting off the trunk of the KU tree and Phog Allen. Most know about Adolph Rupp and Dean Smith, but what about George Miller at Oregon State ( one of the winningest coaches in history) And what about the sprouts off of those branches? I'm sure there are more, but I'm only a four decade Jayhawk.

It's OUR history, in our hands- not the NCAA, so WE need to keep it alive !!!!!

Rock Chalk Forever!

actorman 13 years, 3 months ago

mcrozb, good point about KU's coaching history, but it was Ralph Miller at Oregon State, not George Miller.

Also, let's face it, KU's two non-NCAA "championships" are not exactly legitimate, given that they were from 1922 and 1923 and were decided by VOTING in 1936. In football, the BCS is bad enough, but imagine if the title wasn't decided until 13 or 14 years later!

Mike Crosbie 13 years, 3 months ago

Thanks for the correction actorman, (I knew that) still a little orgasmic getting ready for tonight, messing with my mind. BUT, you have to count 1922 &1923 because Kentucky, UNC.... all the others count theirs. A championship is a championship, regardless. Like football they can be argued all day, but they're in the books.

FlaHawk 13 years, 3 months ago

GREAT ARTICLE. Bert Born does not get much recognition today. He really only played two years due to being behind the Hoosier Hoopster Clyde Lovellette. Clyde was not the shot blocker, but boy could he score and run the floor for KU.

Michael Auchard 13 years, 3 months ago

Huh. Never thought I'd see an article start that way. Cantankerous.

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