Joseph Roberts (born May 18, 1936) is an American former professional basketball player. Born in Columbus, Ohio, Roberts played for Ohio State University's 1960 NCAA champions, and later played in the NBA for the Syracuse Nationals before going into coaching. Roberts also played with Hall-of-Famers Jerry Lucas, John Havlicek, and Bobby Knight. Coach Fred Taylor also was a Hall-of-Famer for Ohio State.
|Born||May 18, 1936|
|Listed height||6 ft 6 in (1.98 m)|
|Listed weight||214 lb (97 kg)|
|High school||East (Columbus, Ohio)|
|College||Ohio State (1957–1960)|
|NBA draft||1960 / Round: 3 / Pick: 21st overall|
|Selected by the Syracuse Nationals|
|Career highlights and awards|
As assistant coach:
|Career NBA and ABA statistics|
|Points||1,255 (5.8 ppg)|
|Rebounds||1,075 (4.9 rpg)|
|Assists||123 (0.6 apg)|
|Stats at NBA.com|
|Stats at Basketball-Reference.com|
He starred at Columbus East High School under coach Jackie Moore as a 6'6", 220-lb forward. Future OSU teammate Mel Nowell also starred for Columbus East. Roberts ended up at Ohio State when schools like Georgia Tech and Ohio University advised they had curfew rules for blacks like Roberts. The Buckeyes had few black players at that time, but coaches Floyd Stahl and Fred Taylor made him feel welcome.
Roberts, fellow senior Dick Furry, and Larry Siegfried were returnees that were joined by super sophomores Lucas, Havlicek, and Nowell in 1960. That team lost just three games, one to Utah and star center Billy McGill, one to Adolph Rupp's Kentucky team, where Roberts and Nowell endured racial taunts, and one to Indiana after the Buckeyes had won the Big Ten title. Roberts was a senior co-captain who provided veteran leadership to the sophomore stars on that team.
All five starting Buckeyes—Roberts, Havlicek, Lucas, Siegfried, and Nowell—were drafted to play in the NBA, a rare feat considering there were then just nine NBA teams. Roberts did play for Ohio State in the 1960 US Olympics trials, but drew little attention away from his teammates and the many AAU players who came to take their place on that team regardless of performance.
Roberts was drafted in the third round by the NBA's Syracuse Nationals. He was a reserve at both forward positions behind stars Dolph Schayes, Lee Shaffer, and Johnny Kerr. He played with the Nats three seasons, with the Nats making the playoffs each year under coach Alex Hannum. The Nats were very good, but could not get past the Boston Celtics in their division.
Feeling that his race was limiting his opportunities, Roberts declined to stay with the team when they became the Philadelphia 76ers in 1963.
Roberts returned to his hometown of Columbus, Ohio for the 1966-67 season as the player/manager for the Columbus Comets of the newly formed and short lived North American Basketball League (NABL) where he played with former East High and Ohio State teammate Mel Nowell as well as former Ohio State alumni Dick Reasbeck, Gary Bradds, and Jim Doughty. Also on the team was a guard from Kent State named Gene Michael who at the time was a member of the Columbus Jets baseball team, the minor league affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Michael would go on to be a player, and later General Manager for the New York Yankees.
He later became an assistant coach for Western Michigan in the Mid-American Conference, then Iowa in the Big Ten, before being an assistant for the NBA's Golden State Warriors and coach Al Attles for five years. The Warriors, led by MVP Rick Barry, won the NBA championship in 1975. Roberts coached the Warriors to their fourth win in the NBA finals against the Washington Bullets after Attles was ejected from the game.
- NBA & ABA stats @ basketballreference.com