Bud Palmer, an inaugural Knicks member who later gained popularity as a sports broadcaster, died of cancer Tuesday at his home in West Palm Beach, Florida. He was 91.
Born in Hollywood, California in 1921, Palmer originally took up boxing as a youth but was forced to switch sports after his mother received multiple complaints from the parents of the kids Bud beat up.
In addition to basketball, Bud played a number of other sports and was All-American in both soccer and lacrosse at Princeton. Following his junior year of college, Palmer joined the Navy and learned to pilot the B-26 bomber. His aircraft was responsible for towing targets for fighter planes at the time.
“I was one of the most shot-at soldiers in World War II,” Palmer is quoted as saying by the New York Times.
After his stint in the Navy, Bud became one of the founding members of the Knicks in 1946, playing in the start-up Basketball Association of America (BAA), which became the NBA in 1949.
During his three seasons with the Knicks (1946-1949), he led the team in scoring and into the playoffs in year. More important than his contributions to the Knicks’ record, however, was Bud’s role in pioneering the jump shot.
According the NY Times, Palmer developed the, then unorthodox, method of shooting as a youngster in order to compensate for his lack of size.
The jump shot became a regular part of Palmer’s game, and eventually proved to be an effective method for scoring when Bud played in the league.
The NY Times writes:
“Decades later, whether the story was true or not, old-time Knicks fans had made Palmer part of their holy writ: a Knick, they assured grandchildren, had shot the first jump shot.”
After his hoops career, Mr. Palmer moved on to sports broadcasting, first calling Knicks games on WMGM radio and later on TV.
His most memorable contributions were in national sports broadcasting, where he worked for all three major networks and handled events such as the Summer Olympics.
He also served as producer and broadcaster of CBS Sports Spectacular for many years and made regular appearances on ABC’s “Wide World of Sports,” covering everything from figure skating to gymnastics to golf to auto racing.
In his later years Palmer moved to West Palm Beach, Florida.
He is survived by a son, John Palmer, daughters Gene Palmer, Lisa Palmer and Betty Landerscasper and two grandsons.
Palmer wasn’t the only former New York Knicks player to pass away this week.
On Friday, Knicks guard Ray Williams died after a long battle with colon cancer. Williams was just 58 years old.