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Forgotten Superstars: Bob Davies


Bob Davies

Although Bob Davies only had a seven-year NBA career, he was one of, and if not, the best Rochester Royals player in Royals' history.


Also known as Robert Edris Davies, Bob Davies started his professional basketball career at Seton Hall University. He was originally offered a BASEBALL scholarship, but once John "Honey" Russell, the head coach of the Seton Hall basketball team, saw Davies practice, Russell persuaded Davies to pursue basketball instead.


During his three years with the Seton Hall Pirates, Bob Davies played the Point Guard position and averaged 11.2 points. Unfortunately, no other stat was recorded besides points. This does not work in Davies' favor as he was known as a "consummate passer and play-maker." We'll never know if that's actually true because the number of assists he averaged in college is unknown.


Nevertheless, Bob Davies was still one of the best college basketball stars. He led Seton Hall to FORTY-THREE consecutive wins, and he was so outstanding that he attracted over 18,000 PEOPLE to watch Seton Hall go up against Rhode Island at Madison Square Garden.


Fun Fact 1:

Bob Davies was nicknamed the "Harrisburg Houdini." There's no background about how he got his nickname, but I assume it's because Davies is from Harrisburg, and maybe his players were as magical as Houdini? Either way, still a dope nickname.


Fun Fact 2:

According to John Russell, Davies was the originator of the behind-the-back dribble.

"He (Bob Davies) had such an uncanny control of the ball behind his back that it never concerned me. He made it look as easy as the conventional dribble." - John Russell

After his three years with Seton Hall, Davies would enlist in the U.S. Navy during World War 2.


After his time in the war, in 1943, Davies joined a team that was a part of the American Basketball League (ABL), the Brooklyn Indians. The Brooklyn Indians were horrible. They started with a 2-10 record, and midway through the season, the ABL disbanded.


As for Davies, he was not that bad! He averaged 6.0 points a game. Interestingly, he was not the only Seton Hall alumni on the team. Other Seton Hall players include:

  • Bob Fitzgerald (5.3 Points)

  • Chuck Connors (1.4 Points)

  • Ben Schamus (3.0 Points)

  • Al Negratti (0.0 Points)

After an extremely disappointing season with the Brooklyn Indians, Davies decided to switch sports. He ended up playing Major League Basketball with the New York Gothams (1944-45). There is literally no info on his time with the Gothams. Even if there were any information, I wouldn't be of much use. I don't know shit about baseball.


Finally, after two years of being with a failure of a basketball team and a 'god-knows-what- happened' year with a baseball team, in 1945, Bob Davies would find a basketball team that he would stick with for the rest of his career, the Rochester Royals.


Table of Contents:



Rochester Royals (NBL: 1945-48)


1945-46:

Before joining the NBA, the Rochester Royals were a part of the National Basketball League (NBL). In their first season in the NBL (1945-46), the Royals went 24-10 and were 2nd in the Eastern Conference. As for Bob Davies, during the regular season, he averaged 9.0 points. A three-point increase from his time with the Brooklyn Indians.


In the playoffs, Bob Davies would kick it up a notch. Davies ended up being the second-leading scorer of the team, averaging 12.3 points per game. In the first round, Davies and the Royals easily beat the Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons (3-1).


The Finals were even EASIER! The Royals beat the Sheboygan Redskins, 3-0. In his first season with the Royals, Davies was already a Champion.


However, this is probably one of the easiest playoff runs I've ever seen. There were only four teams in the playoffs, and the Royals only had to face two teams to win a Championship. Nowadays, you have to go through twice as many teams!


Fun Fact 3: The Rochester Royals are now known as the... Sacramento Kings! AKA, the worst NBA team in California. Sorry Kings fans, but it's true.


1946-47:

In his second year with the Royals (1946-47), Bob Davies' clearly proved that he was the best player on the Royals. In both the regular season and playoffs, he led the team in points.


Regular Season:

14.4 Points

74 FT%


Playoffs:

13.7 Points

68 FT%


The Royals would finish with a 31-13 record and were the 1st seed in the Eastern Conference. Unfortunately, this time, the Royals would not win the Championship. However, they still made it all the way to the Finals.


First Round: 3-1 against the Syracuse Nationals

Second Round: 2-1 against the Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons

Finals: 1-3 against the Chicago American Gears


Although the Royals did not win the Championship, Davies was named MVP and part of the All-NBL First Team! What makes this even MORE impressive is that at the same time, he was COACHING the Seton Hall, basketball team!


AND he was a good coach too! Seton Hall University went 24-3 under Bob Davies as head coach.


1947-48:

In his last year in the NBL (since the Royals would leave the NBL to join the BAA/NBA), Bob Davies did not perform as well as expected. After coming off an MVP season averaging 14.4 points, this season, he only averaged 9.8 points. In his defense, three other players were averaging more than 10 points on the team:

  • Red Holzman: 10.2 Points

  • Al Cervi: 13.4 Points

  • Arnie Risen: 14.5 Points

If you combine the above three players' scores (38.1), they made up 59% of the teams' average total points (64.6).


Although Davies' regular season was not good, like in the 1945-46 NBL season, he popped off during the playoffs. In the playoffs, he averaged:


14.6 Points

77.5 FT%

5.1 Field Goals


In a bizarre coincidence, the Royals ended up having the EXACT post-season record as last season. The teams they faced against were different, but each series had the same Win/Loss record...


First Round: 3-1 against the Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons

Second Round: 2-1 against the Anderson Duffey Packers

Finals: 1-3 against the Minneapolis Lakers


Rochester Royals (NBA: 1948-1955)


1948-49:

Now, a part of the NBA, we finally get to see Bob Davies' assist numbers. As said earlier, Davies was known as a playmaker and "consummate passer."


The Royals' first season in the NBA was very successful. The team ended up going 45-15 and were 1st in the Western Division. Davies' first season in the NBA was also very successful. He averaged:


15.1 Points and 5.4 Assists

36.4 FG% and 77.6 FT%

60 Games


Even by today's standards, 5.4 assists is a lot. If Davies played in the 2020-2021 NBA season, he would tie with Bam Adebayo, Devonte Graham, Khris Middleton, and Dejounte Murray for assists per game and rank 28th in assists per game.


His 5.4 assists per game made Davies the 1948-49 Assist Champion (i.e., he led the league in assists). In addition, he would be selected into the All-NBA (then called All-BAA) First Team!


Sidenote: So that I don't sound too repetitive...

  • Bob Davies would make the All-NBA First Team from 1948-1952. In the 1952-53 NBA season, he was on the All-NBA Second Team.

  • After this season, Davies would never lead the league in assists. However, every season after, he was always Top 10 in assists per game.

  • Davies would make the All-Star game from 1951-1954 (4x All-Star).

As usual, the Royals made a deep playoff run. The Royals made it all the way to the Conference Finals but got swept by the George Mikan-led Minneapolis Lakers, 2-0.


In the first round, Bob Davies played really well. He scored 18 points per game and shot 76.9% from the free-throw line. However, in the second round, he completely fell apart. He only scored 6 points per game and shot no free throws in the series. This is what happens when you go up against George Mikan!


1949-50:

Literally, nothing special happens this season. The Royals once again had a good regular-season record (51-17) and finished 2nd in the Western Conference.


In the regular season, Bob Davies averaged:


14.0 Points and 4.6 Assists

35.7 FG% and 75.2 FT%

64 Games


Not as good as last year, but still pretty decent numbers. However, in the playoffs, Davies completely crumbles. It was like Davies regressed to when he was on the Brooklyn Indians. He averaged:


7.5 Points and 4.5 Assists

23.5 FG% and 87.5 FT%

2 Games


In the regular season, Davies led in points and assists. Although he still led in assists in the playoffs, he had the sixth-highest number of points per game (or the fourth-worst).


I just want to get this season over because next season is when Bob Davies and the Rochester Royals win their second Championship.


1950-51:

The 1950-51 NBA season was when Bob Davies and the Rochester Royals would win their second championship. This also happened to be the year when the NBA started counting rebounds, so from here on out, we're going to be adding rebounds too!


In the regular season, the Royals went 41-27 and finished 2nd in the Western Conference. The Royals also had the best offensive rating in the league (89.3), but on the other hand, had the fourth-worst defensive rating (86.2). Besides Davies, there were two other Seton Hall alumni on the team.

  • Pep Saul (4x NBA Champion... wasn't that good)

  • Bobby Wanzer (5x All-Star, 3x NBA Champion... was outstanding)

In the regular season, he averaged:


15.2 Points, 4.6 Assists, 3.1 Rebounds

37.2 FG% and 79.5 FT%

63 Games


In the first round against the Fort Wayne Pistons, the Royals beat them 2-1. Bob Davies averaged 17.3 points and shot 37.3% from the field and 87.5% from the free-throw line. Out of all the players in the series, Davies led in points per game. In addition, in the first game of the series, he would score 21 points and had seven assists!


In the second round against the Minneapolis Lakers, the Royals beat them 3-1. Davies did not do as well this series, but thankfully, his teammate, Arnie Risen, rose to the occasion.


While Davies was only averaging 12.3 points per game and shooting a horrible 26.2% from the field, Risen was averaging 18.3 points per game (and for some reason, his field goal percentage was not recorded). In addition, 50% of the Royals were scoring ten points or above!

  • Arnie Johnson (not Ernie Johnson): 10.0 Points

  • Bobby Wanzer: 10.8 Points

  • Jack Coleman: 10.8 Points

  • Bob Davies: 12.3 Points

  • Arnie Risen: 18.3 Points

Even George Mikan, who was averaging 23.8 POINTS, could not stop the Rochester Royals Big Five.



In the Finals against the New York Knicks, the Royals would beat them 4-3. Coincidentally, the best player on the other team was Max Zaslofsky, the first person we did an "Unforgotten Superstars" about.


Ok... let's go back to the Royals' players, specifically Davies. He would average:


17 Points, 3.3 Rebounds, and 5.3 Assists

36.1 FG% and 79.5 FT%


Although Davies had a good series performance, and this article is ABOUT Bob Davies if it weren't for Risen, there's no way the Royals would have won the Championship. Risen averaged:


22 Points, 14.3 Rebounds, and 2.7 Assists

39.7 FG% and 64.0 FT%


In 57% of the games, Risen led in rebounds and points! Unfortunately, Finals MVP was not an award yet, but Risen would have definitely gotten it if it was.


And just like that, Bob Davies and the Rochester Royals were 2x Champions!


1951-52:

From this season onwards, Bob Davies would not make it to the Finals for the rest of his career.


Sorry to start on such a cynical note. On the bright side, this was Davies' best regular-season and post-season performance!


In the regular season, he averaged:


16.2 Points, 4.1 Rebounds, and 6.0 Assists

38.3 FG% and 77.6 FT%

36.8 Minutes


In this season, he also recorded a career-high 33 points!


In the playoffs, he averaged:


19.8 Points, 3.0 Rebounds, and 4.7 Assists

40.2 FG% and 81.8 FT%

38.8 Minutes


In the first round against the Fort Wayne Pistons (again), Davies averaged 26 POINTS! To be fair, it was only two games.


In the second round against the Minneapolis Lakers (again), Davies only averaged 16.8 points. Still a lot, but not as good as his performance during the first round.


1952-53:

This was Bob Davies' last season before his downfall. He averaged:


15.6 Points, 3.0 Rebounds, and 4.2 Assists

38.3 FG% and 75.3 FT%

33.6 Minutes


In the playoffs, he would only average:


8.7 Points, 1.3 Rebounds, and 4.7 Assists

20.7 FG% and 70.0 FT%

30.3 Minutes


From here on out, nothing eventful happens for Bob Davies and the Rochester Royals. Davies and the Royals would only make the first round for the next two years, and afterward, they wouldn't even make the playoffs.


1953-55:

Bob Davies' last two years were bad. In his defense, he was already 34 years old. In his last two seasons, he would average:


12.2 Points, 2.7 Rebounds, and 4.9 Assists

39.3 FG% and 73.5 FT%

27.9 Minutes


This was a career-low for Davies in points, rebounds, and minutes.


In the playoffs, he averaged:


8.4 Points, 2.0 Rebounds, and 2.6 Assists

33 FG% and 74.5 FT%

27 Minutes


After seven years in the NBA, Davies would retire to coach Gettysburg College for two seasons. Within those two seasons, Gettysburg would win 28 and lose 19.


As expected, fifteen years after retirement, Bob Davies would be selected to the Hall of Fame.


 

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