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Hub Reed: Talking basketball

by Berry Tramel Published: August 4, 2014
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Hub Reed (left) and Leon Griffin (center), teammates on Oklahoma City University basketball teams in the 1950s, chat with their coach, Abe Lemons, in 1999. (Oklahoman archive photo)
Hub Reed (left) and Leon Griffin (center), teammates on Oklahoma City University basketball teams in the 1950s, chat with their coach, Abe Lemons, in 1999. (Oklahoman archive photo)

I went to a wedding Saturday night. Josh Kahoe, who as an OU student ran my board when I had a radio show at KREF in Norman 7-8 years ago, got married at the Sam Noble Museum.

And I had a lovely surprise. I ran into Hub Reed at the wedding.

I thought it was him. Big, tall, regal looking bald man. Now 77 years old.

A generation or two of El Reno students remember him as the athletic director who kept a tight lid on student behavior at ballgames.

Sports editor Mike Sherman tells two great stories about Reed.

One, he would man the broom at basketball games and sweep the floor at halftime and between games. And if a student yelled something untoward, Reed would lean that broom against the wall and motion for the offender(s) to come down from the stands and face the court of justice.

Two, some El Reno students once threw some eggs at the Carl Albert girls basketball team bus. The next morning, those El Reno students were at Carl Albert High School to apologize. Hub Reed had driven them over himself.

Others remember Hub Reed as the great big man on Abe Lemons’ early teams at Oklahoma City University. Reed was Lemons’ first OCU all-American. The 6-foot-9 center from Capitol Hill totaled 1,871 points and 1,108 rebounds as a Chief. OCU reached the regional final of the NCAA Tournament in Reed’s sophomore and junior seasons.

The first time I met Reed was at a reception two decades ago for Lemons. A small group of his former players feted Lemons. And Reed, never a big talker, simply quoted Philippians when talking of his old coach. “I thank my God for every remembrance of you.”

Reed told one Lemons story. Seems that the Chiefs went to Miami for a game and got beat pretty good. OCU was scheduled to play Florida State the next night in Tallahassee, and Lemons was so disgusted, he said his troops would have to try something different. So all he fed them on game day was fruit salad. Florida State rolled OCU. “We never had to eat fruit salad again,” Reed said.

But between his days playing for OCU and riding herd on the young people of El Reno, Reed spent seven years in the NBA.

He was taken 14th overall in the 1958 NBA Draft by the St. Louis Hawks, which had a formidable front line of Bob Pettit, Cliff Hagan and Clyde Lovelette. Reed eventually played with the Cincinnati Royals, Lakers and Pistons. He retired with career averages of 5.5 points and 5.1 rebounds per game.

The Dish and I chatted with Reed and his wife for 7-8 minutes. Reed is not a loquacious talker.

But in that short amount of time, he offered a few NBA nuggets.

When Oscar Robertson, a Royals teammate, signed a three-year contract for $100,000, the Reeds thought that was all the money in the world.

Reed routinely dueled Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain. I asked Reed if Serge Ibaka had any Russell shot-blocking qualities. Yes, Reed said, except Russell rarely blocked the ball out of bounds. Or blocked shots at all. He intercepted shots. Russell would catch a shot in mid-air, teammate Bob Cousy would head for the opposite end and the Celtic fast-break would be at its zenith.

Reed went against Chamberlain in college; OCU and Kansas played in the 1957 Midwest Regional final. And they were frequent combatants in the pros.

Reed said he once blocked a Chamberlain dunk attempt. Running back upcourt, Wilt ran along side Reed and said, “Hubert, don’t do that anymore. You’re making me look bad.”

Reed is an Oklahoma treasure. A guy who went to the NBA for seven years and couldn’t wait to get back to Oklahoma, where he kept floors clean and young people in line and the memories strong about basketball in the golden age of OCU.

by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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