Brazil was always in Oscar Schmidt‘s heart. The talented South American forward, a cornerstone of Hispanic Heritage Month, was chosen by the New Jersey Nets in the 1984 NBA Draft, even though he never wanted to play in the United States, he retired in 2003 as the top scorer in professional basketball history .
He has the record of 49,737 points scored, displacing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who retired in 1989 holding the NBA scoring record of 38,387 points in 20 years with Los Angeles Lakers and the Milwaukee Bucks.
The Brazilian forward, who stands 6’9″, began to play in professional basketball in 1974 and despite his indisputable skills he refused to go play in the the NBA . At age 26, Schmidt was selected by the Nets in the 1984 NBA Draft with pick 131 (6th round) but Schmidt, nicknamed of “Mano Santa”, (Holy Hand) , preferred the Brazilian national team.
“I did not play because NBA players were barred from playing for the national team. I was selected in the sixth round in 1984, come on man. I was offended. Then I went there just to show them what they will lose. I was there for two weeks. One for practice and the other played five games. They gave me 25 minutes per game, I gave them 25 points per game.
“[…] They came to offer me a no cut contract. That was incredibly good because they didn’t believe that people outside the United States could play basketball. I immediately refused. ‘ Why did I refuse?’ I just wanted to see if I was capable and I did it. That was the reason “, said Schmidt in a recent interview with Unanimo Deportes.
While the restriction was abolished in 1989, Schmidt was already 31 years old by then. This however, did not prevent him from still be a star on the court, playing with teams such as Palmeiras, Sirio, América de Rio, Caserta and Pavia in Italy, Forum Valladolid in Spain before returning to Corinthians , Bandeirantes, Baruerí and Flamengo, where he retired in 2003 at age 45 and as the top scorer in the history of the sport.
Oscar Schmidt, the Pentalympian
Schmidt played in five different Olympic Games with Brazil (1980, 1984, 1988, 1992 and 1996) making him one of the five basketball players with the most participation in the history of the Games . He also has the highest individual scoring in an Olympic game when he poured 55 points against Spain in Seoul 1988.
Schmidt is responsible for seven of the highest individual scoring totals in Olympics history, tallying over 40 points six times while also becoming the only Olympian to ever eclipse the 50-point mark.
His 1,093 points in 38 games in the Olympics hasn’t been surpassed, and no one is close to it. Australia’s Andrew Gaze is the closest one with 789 games, followed by Spain’s Pau Gasol with 649. Both of them are retired from Olympic competition.
Schmidt also has the best scoring average with 28.8 points per game.
He also wore the colors of the “Canarinha” in four World Championships (1978, 1982, 1986 and 1990), where he won the bronze medal in the Philippines 1978. In this competition he also has the record of more points in a World Championship game with 53 against Australia in 1990.
His career, full of successes and personal marks of all kinds, allowed him to be inducted into the FIBA Hall of Fame in 2010 and three years later into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame .
Oscar Daniel Bezerra Schmidt is one of the best players in the history of basketball and one of the best Latino athletes, so Hispanic Heritage Month is honored to recognize his career.