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Robert "Bobby" McDermott (January 7, 1914 in Whitestone, Queens, New York – October 3, 1963 in Yonkers, New York) was an American professional basketball player, in the 1930s and 1940s.

He was known as an outstanding shooter and has been called "the greatest long-distance shooter in the history of the game" by contemporaries.



During the 1940s the most common offenses were motion offenses that were supposed to open up players close to the goal. This was because most players were awful shooters. The most common defenses were zones, that clogged passing lanes and packed the paint. For zone defense to be successful, all the defenders have to be close together and close to the goal.

Bob spread the defenders like nobody ever did before or has since. He was an accurate shooter for his day but not legendarily accurate. His free throw percentage was below 80% most of his career and he used a two-handed set shot from the chest that was easy to block. However, he could score from anywhere within the half court. Al Cervi, a great defensive player who often had to guard him, said of McDermott, "Oh, he could shoot! If he shot ten times from thirty feet, I'd guarantee he'd make eight in game conditions."

Through sheer athleticism, and power he could shoot from almost anywhere on the court. At a time when most teams played a deliberate slow-up style and scoring less than 30 wasn't just common, it was expected, Bob McDermott frequently scored more than 20 points, and scored as many as 36.

Professional basketball career

McDermott dropped out of high school after just one year, and was picked up by the Brooklyn Visitations after making a name for himself on the playgrounds. He continued the trend in the American Basketball League. He led the league in scoring, and helped Brooklyn win the 1934-35 ABL championship against the dominant Philadelphia Sphas in their prime. He spent a year in the New York Professional League where he set a play-off record for most points with 32. He played with the recently reorganized Original Celtics for the next three years.

He went back to the ABL and was again the league's scoring leader, returned to the Celtics for another season, then settled down for a while with the Ft. Wayne Zollner Pistons of the National Basketball League in 1941. From 1941-46 he was at his peak. He improved his shot and for the first time his free throw percentage rose above 80%. He continued to get more accurate and dangerous while keeping his legendary range. The Pistons won over 80% of their games and made five consecutive NBL finals appearances. They won NBL titles in 1944 and 1945, as well as the World Professional Basketball Tournament in Chicago.

McDermott became a player-coach during 1946. He took up the same position when he moved to the Chicago Gears. On the Gears he was teamed with the biggest inside threat in the league, George Mikan. They won the 1946-47 NBL championship together. Though he would continue to play professionally for several more years, McDermott's last year with the Gears was his final year of stardom on a winning team.

The American Gears joined the Professional Basketball League of America in 1947. But when that league folded in November 1947, after only three weeks of existence, the Gears players were distributed among NBL teams. McDermott landed with the Sheboygan Red Skins, with whom he was a player-coach for about a month. He scored 138 points in 16 games and coached the Red Skins to a 4-5 record. Doxie Moore regained the coaching reins after McDermott left to join the Tri-Cities Blackhawks, where he coached and played for the next season and a half.


McDermott was the world professional championship tournament MVP and was named the NBL MVP in four consecutive seasons during the 1940s. In 1946 the NBL named McDermott the greatest player in league history. Collier's magazine chose him to an "All-World" team in 1950. McDermott was named to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1988.

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