University of Kansas

Former KU basketball great Bill Bridges dies

KU’s Bill Bridges (left) helped surround Cincinnati’s Paul Hogue during a 1960 NCAA Tournament game in Manhattan, Kan.
KU’s Bill Bridges (left) helped surround Cincinnati’s Paul Hogue during a 1960 NCAA Tournament game in Manhattan, Kan. The Associated Press

Bill Bridges was a rebounding machine. When he finished his Kansas men’s basketball career in 1961, his 1,081 boards amassed in three years were the second-most in school history. His 580 rebounds in conference games remains a record.

He carried that ability into the NBA and was a three-time All-Star and a member of the Golden State Warriors’ NBA Championship team in his final season, 1975.

Kansas announced Thursday that Bridges died on Sept. 25 in Santa Monica, Calif., after a battle with cancer. He was 76.

Bridges arrived on campus from Hobbs, N.M., in 1959, the year after Wilt Chamberlain departed, and made an immediate impact. Bridges, a 6-foot-5 forward, averaged 13.2 points and 13.9 rebounds in his Kansas career. He was chosen All-Big Eight in three seasons and was an All-American in 1961.

The Jayhawks won the conference title in 1960.

Bridges was selected in the third round of the 1961 NBA Draft by the Chicago Packers, which later became the Washington Wizards. But Bridges instead spent 1 1/2 seasons with the Kansas City Steers of the American Basketball League. That league folded midway through the 1962-63 season, and Bridges entered the NBA with the St. Louis Hawks.

His All-Star seasons came with the Hawks, in St. Louis and Atlanta. Bridges played for the 76ers and Lakers before finishing his career with the Warriors.

Among Kansas players in the NBA, only Chamberlain finished with more career rebounds in the pro ranks. Bridges is the sixth leading NBA scorer among former Jayhawks in the NBA.

His jersey was retired at Allen Fieldhouse in 2004.

Blair Kerkhoff: 816-234-4730, @BlairKerkhoff

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