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Bruce Jenner's brief NBA career
The 1970s were a interesting decade for America and for sports in particular. The decade saw the US withdraw from Vietnam and seen the presidency mired in the biggest scandal in American history; Watergate. It saw the Superbowl rise to dominance lead by the dominant teams of the era, the Steelers and Cowboys and it seen the Miami Dolphins deliver the only perfect season. In the basketball world it seen the NBA go head-to-head with the dazzling ABA only to see the larger NBA eat the ABA and take four of its teams.
It was also an era in the NBA when the annual NBA draft was like that annoying song from the children's show Lambchop; it would go on and on and on..... But looking at the seemingly endless list of picks and one can find some funny and interesting picks. The Chicago Bulls would draft runner Carl Lewis in 1984, the same year they drafted a guy named Michael Jordan. The New Orleans Jazz drafted a woman named Lusia Harris. The Boston Celtics drafted a water boy and the Lakers tried drafting both Scooby Doo and a chair but both picks were rejected by the league. But one of the most interesting publicity stunt picks, mostly because he may have actually been able to play in the NBA, was the Kansas City Kings 7th round pick Bruce Jenner.
Long before he was a member of the Kardashian goofball clan that dominants reality TV and pop culture, and before he became a she and became Caitlyn, Bruce Jenner was one of the most dominant atheltes of his era. The Graceland Unviersity product was a multi sport athelte, who was encouraged to become a runner only after a knee injury ended his football career, would go on to be one of, if not the most, decorated summer olympian in American history.
The Kings were struggling in the 1970s. They were perpetual NBA losers and had just moved to Kansas City after leaving Cincinnati in 1972, even then they split their time between KC and Omaha, Nebraska until 1975 and even after a new arena was built there was the chance that the Kings could pack up and move again to San Diego or Salt Lake City. So the ownership needed a publicity stunt and what better way to attract sports fans than to draft the best athelte in the world at the time.
in 1977 Jenner had just come off a dominanting 1976 summer games were he set several world records and was being dubbed "the greatest athelte in the world" by the media. America just could not get enough of Bruce Jenner.
When the pick came in everyone knew it was a farce. Jenner was the top athelte in his sport in the peak of his career, there would be no way that the Kings could persude him to leave that for a merger salary with a struggling NBA team. The Kings marketed the event splendidly. They even got Wheaties to sponsor the even, as with today, almost all Olympic winners get their pictures on a Wheaties box and "the greatest athelte in the world" was no exception. Wheaties manufactured special mini boxes of Wheaties to give out at a game that was dubbed Bruce Jenner night, and Jenner himself even attended
It remains to be seen if Jenner could have played in the NBA, but what is not questionalbe is that he had the athletic skill to compete. It would just be his shooting and dribbling that would be questional. In all, it was a fun event for the people of Kansas City and an interesting side not in NBA history.