by Mike Magers
Bill Bridges was a 2014 inductee into the New Mexico Sports Hall of Fame. Bill was born in 1939 in Hobbs, New Mexico and graduated from Hobbs High School, playing ball under the legendary coach Ralph Tasker. He attended Kansas University where he joined the basketball team as a walk on. While at KU, he went on to earn a scholarship, was an All-American and team captain in 1961. His KU team tied for the Big 8 championship in 1960. Bill was the first player in KU history to score over 1,000 points and pull down 1,000 rebounds. His field goal percentage was 0.401 and free throw percentage was 0.653. During his college career, he scored 1,028 points and had 1,081 rebounds. The Bill Bridges Rebounding Award is presented each year to KU’s leading rebounder.
Upon graduating from Kansas University, he was drafted by the NBA Chicago Browns, but joined the Kansas City Steers of Abe Sapperstein’s ABL where he led the league in rebounding and was named All-ABL in 1962. The league folded after which Bill went on to play 13 seasons in the NBA (1962-1975) for the St. Louis/Atlanta Hawks, the Philadelphia 76ers, Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State Warriors where he played on his only NBA Championship team his last season in 1975.
During his NBA career, he averaged 11.9 points per game and 11.9 rebounds. His NBA career included appearing in 926 games, scored 4,181 goals, made 2,650 free throws for total points scored of 11,012. On the defensive side, his rebound total was 11,054.
Upon his retirement from the NBA, Bridges worked as a business consultant in Santa Monica, California. He was inducted into the Kansas University Hall of Fame in 2002 and his jersey number 32 was retired in 2004. Bill Bridges passed away in 2015.