Frederick L. Lewis (born July 1, 1943) is a retired American basketball player. He played professionally in the National Basketball Association (NBA) and American Basketball Association (ABA). He is the only player to start his career in the NBA, and play all 9 full ABA seasons (1967-1976) until the NBA/ABA merger, then sign back with the NBA.
|Born||July 1, 1943|
Huntington, West Virginia
|Listed height||6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)|
|Listed weight||175 lb (79 kg)|
|NBA draft||1966 / Round: 10 / Pick: 88th overall|
|Selected by the Cincinnati Royals|
|Number||19, 14, 6, 1|
|1974–1976||Spirits of St. Louis|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NBA and ABA statistics|
|Points||12,033 (16.0 ppg)|
|Rebounds||2,752 (3.7 rpg)|
|Assists||2,979 (4.0 apg)|
|Stats at Basketball-Reference.com|
Born in Huntington, West Virginia, Lewis was a fundamentally sound 6'0" (1.83 m) guard who could pass, shoot, and defend equally well. He attended McKeesport Area High School (in Pennsylvania) and Arizona State University before being drafted by the NBA's Cincinnati Royals.
A 10th-round draft pick of the Cincinnati Royals in 1966, he earned a spot as Oscar Robertson's backup, averaging 4.7 points and 1.3 assists per game. "Oscar taught me a lot," Lewis is quoted on remembertheaba.com about the legend from Indianapolis. "(He) taught me how to be cool, how to handle situations instead of running all over the court helter-skelter." Lewis was selected by San Diego in the NBA expansion draft but instead signed with the Pacers in the ABA.
Chasing the dynastyEdit
In '72, he had 23 points, 12 rebounds and 6 assists in Game 7 vs. Utah in the semifinals, hitting two free throws with 24 seconds left for the winning points. Lewis also led a comeback from a 20-point deficit in Game 5 vs. New York in the finals, hitting the game-winning free throws with 17 seconds.
Lewis was an essential piece of the Indiana Pacers dynasty. A versatile guard that could make big plays in the clutch. He averaged 16.1 points per game, 4 assist and 3.9 rebounds in seven seasons with the Pacers. He was a 3x ABA champion and the 1972 Playoffs MVP. Lewis also added four ABA All-Star appearances and the 1975 All-star game MVP award to his resume.
After the Pacers lost to the Utah Stars in the 1974 finals, however, the Pacers traded Lewis, along with Brown and Daniels, to the Memphis Sounds. Daniels, the Sounds' starting center, then injured his back after slipping in his bathtub, and Lewis was traded to the Spirits of St. Louis in exchange for replacement center Tom Owens.
Lewis averaged a career high 22.6 points per game with the Spirits in 1974–1975, was named MVP of the 1975 ABA All-Star Game, and led the young team into the playoffs. However, Lewis suffered an ankle injury, and the Spirits bowed out to the Kentucky Colonels, the eventual champions. After one more year with the Spirits, Lewis returned to the Pacers (who by this point had joined the NBA), and he retired in 1977 with 12,033 combined NBA/ABA career points.
ABA All-Time TeamEdit
Freddie Lewis was selected to the ABA All-Time Team on August 23, 1997, in conjunction with the ABA 30th Anniversary reunion. It comprised the thirty best and most influential players of the ABA during its 10 years and 9 full regular seasons of operation, with respect not only to performance at the professional level but in consideration of sportsmanship, team leadership, and contributions to the growth of the league basketball, and irrespective of positions played. Only players to have played at least a portion of their careers in the ABA were eligible for selection, although performance in other leagues, most notably the National Basketball Association was ostensibly considered. Selected and announced beside the all-time team were a most valuable player and top head coach.
Hall of Fame ballotingEdit
Freddie Lewis is considered to be one of the greatest Indiana Pacers ever; according to the Indianapolis Star he ranks 8th all time. His 11,660 ABA points place him in the top six in ABA scoring records. As of 2019, he is currently on the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame class ballot waiting to join his teammates Roger Brown, Mel Daniels, George McGinnis and coach Bob "Slick" Leonard.