In print: Chairmain of the boards
Wilt Chamberlain is the NBA’s career leader in rebounds, but it’s easy to make the case that George Raveling is the leading expert on the subject.
Raveling authored two books solely on rebounding: “War on the Boards: A Rebounding Manual” in 1984, the first book devoted to the subject, and he followed that with “A Rebounder’s Workshop” in 1989.
The 6-foot-6 Raveling was a talented board man in his time, but Bob Knight gets the credit for encouraging Raveling to take an academic interest in the subject. The two met at a summer league game, just outside of Philadelphia, while Knight was an assistant coach at West Point in the mid ’60s. Soon after, Knight told Raveling where he could make his mark. Knight had already done the preliminary research.
“He told me that to advance my coaching career, I had to be known as an expert at some facet of the game, and he knew that no book had been written on rebounding and that no coach ever spoke about it at length,” recalled Raveling, who went on to be an assistant coach on Knight’s 1984 gold-medal-winning U.S. Olympic team. “So I spent three or four years researching and that was one of the areas where I made my reputation.”
As for who was the best rebounder?
Raveling’s pick is retired 6-7 center Wes Unseld, “as fundamentally sound as any,” he said, adding that 5-9 Calvin Murphy was the best rebounder for his size.
“The great myth about rebounding is that you have to have great leaping ability,” Raveling said. “Most rebounds are taken at rim level or below, but there’s always this myth that you have to be a great leaper. If you look at the great rebounders of all time, not many of them were great leapers, but they all knew positioning, timing and pursuit of the ball. The great ones start to go for the right position the minute a ball leaves a shooter’s hands.”