Dallas-Fort Worth basketball fans could debate on and on about who is the best male basketball player this area has ever produced.
Chris Bosh? LaMarcus Aldridge? Dennis Rodman? Larry Johnson? Ricky Pierce? Deron Williams?
A case can be made for each of those players, but there is no debating who was North Texas’ first true star who made it big nationally, breaking through longstanding, regrettable racial barriers in the process.
His name was Dave ‘The Rave’ Stallworth, and he hailed from old Madison High. Stallworth died last March at the age of 75, and you can read much more about his Dallas origins below, but the reason we’re again writing about him is that his alma mater, Wichita State, is honoring him with a statue outside of Charles Koch Arena on Saturday, with the Shockers hosting Baylor later in the day.
“He was one of the original superstars of this program,” Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall told reporters this week. “I never was able to see him play for Wichita State, but I’m old enough to have seen him play with the Knicks.
“Super gentleman. I met him several times before he passed. It’s a great honor, to be the first and only statue at Koch Arena, and rightfully so. He was a pioneer and he got this program going.”
Stallworth, a 6-7 forward, averaged 24.3 points in four seasons as a Shocker, including averages of 26.5 as a junior and 25.0 as a senior. He led the Shockers to their first NCAA appearance in 1964, but, in an oddity of those times, he ran out of eligibility midway through the 1964-65 season. Still, that Wichita State team, which also included Forth Worth-raised star center Nate Bowman, advanced to the Final Four.
“I think we would have had a better chance in the ’65 Final Four if he hadn’t been running out of eligibility at midyear,” Marshall said. “That to me is the burgeoning of NCAA faux pas back then, a guy can lose his eligibility midway through the season.”
Stallworth’s No. 42 was retired by Wichita State years ago, but several of his Shockers teammates have spent the past two years in a labor of love to raise money and lobby the school’s athletic officials to make the statue a reality.
Here is the story we posted when Stallworth died last March:
Dave Stallworth, the first true basketball star to come out of Dallas, died Wednesday night at the age of 75.
Most of the Stallworth obituaries that have circulated during the past 24 hours have fittingly focused on his All-America seasons at Wichita State in 1964 and 1965, and the role he played in helping the Knicks to a pivotal Game 5 win in the 1970 NBA finals en route to beating the Lakers for the title.
Far less known are the facts that Stallworth was born in Dallas in 1941 and starred at Madison High School in the early 1960s. That is because Stallworth endured a similar fate as another Dallasite, Booker T. Washington High product Ernie Banks, who was born a decade earlier.
During the 1950s and even into the 1960s, The Dallas Morning News and rival Times Herald scarcely covered the feats of athletes at all-black high schools like Madison and Booker T. Washington. Moreover, Division I colleges in Texas and through much of the south did not recruit black players.
When Stallworth got a scholarship at Wichita State, became a national star and, ultimately, the No. 3 pick of the 1965 NBA draft, The News and Times Herald made little mention of him.
The embarrassment I felt while combing Morning News microfilm for Stallworth background compelled me to apologize when I interviewed him for a feature prior to the 2004 NBA draft. Yet Stallworth expressed no bitterness. He could not have been more magnanimous.
“I don’t think I would have enjoyed growing up in any place other than Dallas,” he said that day. “We were all dirt poor down there, but everybody knew each other, cared about each other, helped each other.”
After Stallworth, it would be nearly three decades before Dallas produced a top-five NBA draft pick. Since then, there has been a steady trickle of standout NBA players from Dallas and North Texas.
But there was only one Original, only one who carried the nickname “Dave the Rave.”
And here is the feature we wrote about about Stallworth in 2004:
Larry Johnson. Tony Battie. Kenyon Martin. Chris Bosh. All are Dallas products and top-5 NBA draft picks.
Each had the privilege of flying his family to the draft. Each donned a custom suit and walked onstage to shake commissioner David Stern’s hand while millions watched on TV. The next morning, their photos were on the cover of their hometown sports sections.
Dave Stallworth experienced none of that.
If you are unfamiliar with the athletic lore of Dallas’ all-black schools before integration, you probably didn’t know that Stallworth hails from Dallas and was a top-5 NBA draft pick.
Even if his name rings familiar, you probably didn’t know that he was the first local basketball kid to make it big, earning consensus All-America honors at Wichita State in 1964 and an NBA title ring as a New York Knick in 1970.
He was the Original. He was Dave “The Rave” Stallworth. Yet when the Knicks made him the No. 3 overall pick of the 1965 draft, it caused barely a stir in Dallas, except within the black community and at his alma mater, James Madison High.
“Yeah, but those were the times,” says Stallworth, 62. “I don’t have any hard feelings about it.”
As another glitzy draft night arrives, Stallworth stands proudly, not resentfully, as a reminder of how far the league and his hometown have come.
He recalls that on draft day 1965, he was about to play a pickup game on the Wichita State campus when he was called into the basketball office.
Minutes later, a Knicks representative phoned to tell Stallworth he had been selected after Davidson’s Fred Hetzel and Miami’s Rick Barry. Stallworth’s selection was no surprise to Shockers fans who watched him forge a 24.2-point career scoring average.
The 1960 state championship photograph of the James Madison High School basketball team that coach Euril Henson won when Dave Stallworth was on his team. Coach Henson is the fourth from the left, in the back row, in the white suit. Dave Stallworth is the third from the left, in the front row, sitting directly under coach Henson.
The 1960 state championship photograph of the James Madison High School basketball team that coach Euril Henson won when Dave Stallworth was on his team. Coach Henson is the fourth from the left, in the back row, in the white suit. Dave Stallworth is the third from the left, in the front row, sitting directly under coach Henson.(Dallas Morning News file photo)
Twenty-five years elapsed before Skyline’s Johnson and San Antonio Cole’s Shaquille O’Neal, in 1990, became the next Texas high school recruits to earn consensus All-America status. When Charlotte drafted Johnson No. 1 the following year, he was the first Dallas product since Stallworth to be picked among the top 10.
“I think a lot of people have forgotten about Stallworth,” says 76-year-old Euril Henson, Stallworth’s coach at Madison. “To me, he’s the best basketball player to come out of Dallas.”
Some haven’t forgotten. Legendary Fort Worth Dunbar coach Robert Hughes, who faced Madison often as head coach at I.M. Terrell during the late ’50s and early ’60s, jokes that he has spent four decades trying to forget Stallworth, “the matchup nightmare.”
“But back then, if you were a local boy going to college out of state, you weren’t going to get much publicity,” Hughes says.
“And if you were a local boy of color in the early ’60s going out of state, people would think you’ve dropped off the globe.”
At the bottom
Stallworth didn’t have much choice.
He dreamed of playing for SMU, but Southwest Conference schools did not recruit black players. It wasn’t until 1965 that TCU made I.M. Terrell’s James Cash the league’s first black basketball signee.
When Wichita State offered Stallworth and Fort Worth Kirkpatrick’s Nate Bowman scholarships in 1961, they became the first local black athletes to play basketball at a predominantly white, out-of-state school.
“As far as me being the best athlete to come out of there, I doubt it,” Stallworth says. “I was a good athlete, but there were so many others who were outstanding.
“A lot of guys just didn’t get the opportunity. I got the opportunity and ran with it.”
Born in Dallas on Dec. 20, 1941 to a single mother named Doris Jordan, Stallworth grew up in the South Oak Cliff projects: 229 Monahan Court, to be exact. His mother was a maid at the Baker
Those who lived in the neighborhood matter-of-factly referred to it as The Bottom.
“Because that’s what it was,” Stallworth says. “The bottom of the totem pole.”
There was no gym at Stallworth’s elementary school, N.W. Harlee on Eighth Street. But just off Colorado Street, there was an outdoor court at Oak Cliff Park, now Eloise Lundy Park. That’s where
Stallworth learned to play.
Dallas had no major pro sports teams, so Stallworth’s heroes were high school players. He idolized Lincoln’s Abner Haynes, who later starred for the AFL’s Dallas Texans, and future Madison teammate
Stone Johnson, a sprinter on the 1960 U.S. Olympic team.
At 13, while playing his first organized basketball game at the downtown YMCA, Stallworth recalls feeling intimidated, and honored, that the referee was Chicago Cubs star and Booker T. Washington
great Ernie Banks.
“I don’t think I would have enjoyed growing up in any place other than Dallas,” Stallworth says. “We were all dirt poor down there, but everybody knew each other, cared about each other, helped each
In 1956, a previously white high school was reopened as Madison to help relieve overcrowding at Dallas’ other two historically black schools, Lincoln and Washington. Euril Henson, a 28-year-old former star athlete at Houston Yates and Prairie View A&M, was hired as Madison’s first basketball coach.
During the fall of 1957, one of Henson’s practices was interrupted by a knock on the locked gym door. The intruder was a tall eighth-grader in striped overalls.
“What you want, son?”
“Coach, I wanted to come out for basketball. My name is David Stallworth, but they call me ‘Snot.’”
Recalling that day more than 45 years ago with a gravelly chuckle, Henson anticipates the obvious question:
“Because his nose was snotty, I guess.”
Coach Henson’s boy
On that day in ’57, Henson led Stallworth to the left-hand corner of the gym and told him to take a shot. Stallworth swished it, but instead of complimenting him, Henson corrected his follow-through.
Having such a young coach who could not only instruct, but also demonstrate, was an advantage Stallworth still appreciates.
“For years, you could watch a pickup game and tell who was one of Coach Henson’s boys just by the way they played,” Stallworth says. “He taught me more about basketball than anybody I ran into in my
whole life, period.”
No small statement, since Stallworth played for Ralph Miller at Wichita State and Dick McGuire and Red Holzman in the pros – all Hall of Famers.
With Stallworth, 6-5, at center, Madison finished second in the state Prairie View League (originally the Texas Interscholastic League of Colored Students) in 1958 and ’59.
Madison also advanced to the 1960 title game against Houston’s Kashmere Gardens. The game drew so much anticipation that after noting the raucous overflow crowd in the Prairie View A&M field house, officials deemed conditions unsafe and declared the teams co-champs.
Stallworth and Madison packed gyms everywhere they went, including old Cobb Fieldhouse, which was just a few blocks from where the American Airlines Center sits today. White schools played at Cobb on Fridays, black schools on Saturdays.
But game coverage of Madison, Lincoln and Washington in The Dallas Morning News and Dallas Times-Herald typically consisted of a box score in small type. Henson stopped calling scores in.
“They said, ‘Well, we don’t have no space.’ I said, ‘Well, I don’t have the time.’”
When Stallworth graduated at midterm of 1961 and left for Wichita State midway through the season, local weekly black papers gave him a big sendoff and called it a hopeful sign for future local black
The Morning News and Times Herald barely noticed, even when Stallworth starred immediately in Wichita.
En route to becoming the first Shocker to have his jersey (No. 42) retired, Stallworth, who grew to be 6-7, led the school to a 64-16 record. He was a two-time All-American and set 18 school records.
The Shockers’ sports information director dubbed him “The Rave,” and the nickname stuck. Fans in Wichita still stop Stallworth to talk about his 46-point performance in a 65-64 victory over
top-ranked Cincinnati his junior season. He scored his team’s final seven points that game.
Fortunately for Dallas’ black community, the Shockers played in the Missouri Valley Conference, along with North Texas State, which meant a hero’s homecoming once a season.
“We’d get a busload of kids,” Hughes says. “And we’d all go to Denton to look at Stallworth.”
Stallworth played eight NBA seasons, but his career almost ended soon after it started.
After averaging 12.6 points and 6.2 rebounds as a rookie, he had almost identical numbers in 1966-67.
But during warm-ups before the fourth-to-last game of that season, Stallworth felt twinges of chest pain. When the team returned to New York two days later, the Knicks’ doctor gave Stallworth a cardiogram and determined that he’d had a heart attack.
He ordered Stallworth to stay in a hospital for 34 days, 27 of which he spent on his back.
“That’s where I lost it,” he says. “I didn’t have any stamina after that.”
Stallworth did not play the 1967-68 or 1968-69 seasons. He spent those years working out. Follow-up examinations convinced Stallworth and other doctors that he, in fact, had not had a heart attack.
The Knicks and the NBA – fearing a relapse and possible lawsuit, according to Stallworth – would not allow him to rejoin the team until the 1969-70 season. He averaged 7.8 points as a backup, a role he was destined to have the rest of his career.
But on one magical night at Madison Square Garden, The Rave reappeared.
It was Game 5 of the 1970 NBA Finals. The series was tied 2-2, but the Los Angeles Lakers appeared to have the upper hand eight minutes into the game when Knicks center Willis Reed seriously injured his right hip.
The Knicks trailed, 25-15, when Reed limped off the court, and by halftime the deficit was 13. Holzman tried to slow Lakers center Wilt Chamberlain with Dave DeBusschere, Bill Hosket and Fort Worth’s Bowman, but all got into foul trouble.
“Can you handle him?” Holzman asked, turning to Stallworth.
“Well, I’ll find a way.”
Remarkably, the Knicks rallied to a 107-100 victory. Chamberlain scored only four of his 22 points in the second half, and was outscored, 10-0, by Stallworth over the final nine minutes.
“Every time he put it on the floor, I would steal it from him,” Stallworth says. “I think I caught him by surprise more than anything.”
Chamberlain got revenge in Game 6, scoring 45 points in Los Angeles to send the series back to New York. Game 7 is remembered for Reed’s inspirational return, but there probably wouldn’t have been a Game 7 if not for Stallworth’s Game 5 heroics.
“He was a real inspiration,” DeBusschere, who died after a heart attack last year, recalled more than two decades after the game.
After retiring from the NBA in 1975, Stallworth settled in Wichita. He made $11,000 in his first NBA season and $55,000 for his last, so it wasn’t as though he could sit back and be The Rave the rest of his life.
For nearly 25 years, he has worked as a parts distributor at the local Boeing plant.
He and his second wife, Gloria, have been married 18 years. He has three grown children. One of his grandchildren, Michael, moved to Dallas about a year ago.
His mother moved to California long ago, but when she died four years ago, she was buried in Dallas’ Lincoln Memorial cemetery. Dave’s plot is there, too.
He visits Dallas a couple of times a year and makes it a point to drive by Lundy Park and to visit his old coach, Henson. Stallworth seems to harbor no bitterness about his place and time in Dallas athletic history.
“There’s a lot of history that you don’t hear about down there,” he says. “I don’t understand why they didn’t keep records of these things.
“What can you do? Nothing you can do about it.”
Euril Henson sits in his black-and-white-bricked Oak Cliff home, surrounded by mementos and memories.
In one corner, on a yellow barstool, sits the dusty state co-championship trophy from 1960. He pulls out a scrapbook with yellowed photos and clippings from his seasons at Madison and South
He retired as a head basketball coach after leading SOC to the 1977 Class 4A state title but stayed at the school as JV football coach until 1986.
Divorced in 1973, he, like Stallworth, had three children. But on a rainy night a couple of years ago, his only son, Keith, died after flipping his Jeep Cherokee near Texas Stadium after leaving a Mavericks game. He was 37.
“It’s like I haven’t been the same since,” Henson says.
His eyes light up, however, when talking about the old days and the hundreds of kids he coached, one especially.
“His little mother wanted him to be nice, and he was that type of fella. He was a great player and a good team man.
“I wish you could have seen him.”
1. Fred Hetzel
NBA team: San Francisco
Comment: Six seasons, five teams, 11.2-point average
2. Rick Barry
NBA team: San Francisco
Comment: Only player to lead NCAA, ABA and NBA in scoring
3. Dave Stallworth
NBA team: New York
Comment: Won 1970 NBA title with Knicks
4. Billy Cunningham
College: North Carolina
NBA team: Philadelphia
Comment: Hall of Famer as player; won 1983 title as Philly coach
5. Jim Washington
NBA team: St. Louis
Comment: 10 seasons, 10.6-point average
*Note: New York selected Princeton’s Bill Bradley, Detroit took Michigan’s Bill Buntin, and Los Angeles took UCLA’s Gail Goodrich as territorial picks, separate from the main draft.