Bailey Howell
Howell as a senior at MSU
Personal information
Born (1937-01-20) January 20, 1937 (age 87)
Middleton, Tennessee, U.S.
Listed height6 ft 7 in (2.01 m)
Listed weight210 lb (95 kg)
Career information
High schoolMiddleton (Middleton, Tennessee)
CollegeMississippi State (1956–1959)
NBA draft1959: 1st round, 2nd overall pick
Selected by the Detroit Pistons
Playing career1959–1971
PositionSmall forward / power forward
Number52, 18, 15, 16
Career history
19591964Detroit Pistons
19641966Baltimore Bullets
19661970Boston Celtics
1970–1971Philadelphia 76ers
Career highlights and awards
Career statistics
Points17,770 (18.7 ppg)
Rebounds9,383 (9.9 rpg)
Assists1,853 (1.9 apg)
Stats Edit this at Wikidata at
Stats Edit this at Wikidata at
Basketball Hall of Fame as player
College Basketball Hall of Fame
Inducted in 2006

Bailey E. Howell (born January 20, 1937) is an American former professional basketball player. After playing college basketball at Mississippi State, Howell played 12 seasons in the National Basketball Association (NBA). Howell was a six-time NBA All-Star, two-time NBA champion and was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1997.

Early life

Bailey Howell was born in Middleton, Tennessee, on January 20, 1937, to Walter and Martha Howell. His father was a mail carrier and his mother was a teacher. He had two siblings.[1]

Playing for Middleton High School from 1953 to 1955, Howell scored 1,187 career points, the Tennessee high school record at the time. He was selected all–conference each season, All–State his junior and senior seasons and All–American his senior year of 1955. He averaged 31.2 points per game as a senior.[2][3]

Howell was recruited by major schools Memphis State, Mississippi, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, and Kentucky, among others. Kentucky Coach Adolph Rupp never made the trip to see Howell play. Ultimately Howell chose to play for Coach Babe McCarthy and the Mississippi State Bulldogs men's basketball program of the Southeastern Conference (SEC).[2][4]

College career

Howell was a 6'7" forward, playing at Mississippi State University from 1955 to 1959.

In 1956–1957 Howell made his varsity debut, as freshman were prohibited from playing varsity. Playing for Coach McCarthy, Howell made an immediate impact as a sophomore, averaging 25.9 points and 19.7 rebounds, as Mississippi State finished 17–8, placing 3rd in the SEC.[5]

The 1957–1958 season saw Mississippi State improve to 20–5, placing 3rd in the SEC and being ranked 15th in the final polls. Howell averaged 27.8 points and 16.2 rebounds, winning the first of consecutive SEC Most Valuable Player awards.[6]

In his senior season of 1958–1959, Mississippi State finished 24–1 and won the SEC Conference Championship with a 13–1 record. Howell averaged 27.5 points and 15.2 rebounds, winning his second SEC Most Valuable Player award.[7][2]

In 1959, Howell was named AP First Team All–American. Howell was named to the team along with Bob Boozer of Kansas State, Johnny Cox of Kentucky, Oscar Robertson of Cincinnati, and Jerry West of West Virginia. Howell, Boozer, Robertson, and West have been inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.[8]

Mississippi State University forfeited its NCAA tournament bids during Howell's tenure. The university declined to play in the tournament due to the state of Mississippi's then unwritten practice of not playing against integrated basketball teams.[9][10] “It was the biggest disappointment of my basketball career,” Howell said of the Mississippi State University's decision. “I was never so disappointed. In America, no matter what you do, you have the opportunity to go as far as you can go and be whatever you can be. We were denied that opportunity.”[10]

Overall, during his three varsity seasons, Howell led the Bulldogs to a 64–14 record. His career averages of 27.1 points and 17.0 rebounds per game are both still school records. Howell concluded his career as Mississippi State's leading scorer (2,030 points) and leading rebounder (1,277 rebounds). His 47 points against Union in 1958 and 34 rebounds against Louisiana State University in 1957 remain single-game MSU records.[2][11]

Despite playing at the college level for only three years, he set and still holds Mississippi State records for single-game points scored, career scoring average, single–season and career free throws made, single-season and career free throws attempted, single–game free throw percentage, single-game rebounds, single–season rebounds, career rebounds, and single-season and career rebounding average. His scoring records are particularly impressive, since there was no three-point line or shot clock in the era that he was a player. He is considered a legend to the Bulldog basketball faithful, and one of the best-known players to have played at MSU. He is probably most known for his hook shot, rebounding ability, and work ethic as a player and person.

NBA career

Detroit Pistons (1959–1964)

Howell was the No. 2 pick of the 1959 NBA draft by the Detroit Pistons. He was selected behind territorial pick Wilt Chamberlain and Bob Boozer, both future Hall–of–Famers.

Howell made an immediate impact, averaging 17.8 points and 10.5 rebounds as a rookie in 1959–60, as the Pistons finished 30–45.[12][13]

In his first season, Howell became friends with Piston teammate Earl Lloyd, who earlier in his career had become the first African-American to play in an NBA game. "Earl took me under his wing and spent a great deal of time teaching me about the pro game." Howell said years later. "He was truly my mentor. We continued our friendship after our playing days were over, keeping in touch and visiting occasionally. My wife and I were at his Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony."[3]

In his second season, Howell improved to 23.6 points and 14.4 rebounds in 1960–61 as Detroit finished 34–45 under head coach Dick McGuire. Howell was named to his first of four consecutive NBA All-Star Teams. On November 25, 1960, Howell had career highs of 43 poinst and 32 rebounds in a game against the Los Angeles Lakers.[3][14] The Pistons lost 3–2 in the playoffs to the Los Angeles Lakers as Howell averaged 11.2 points in the series.[15]

The Pistons improved to 37–43 in 1961–62, with Howell leading the team averaging a double-double of 19.9 points and 12.6 rebounds, along with 2.4 assists.[16] The Pistons defeated the Cincinnati Royals 3–1 in the playoffs, behind 22.0 points from Howell. The Pistons were then defeated by the Lakers for the third consecutive year in the Western Conference Final 4–2, as Howell averaged 18.7 points in the series.[17]

In 1962–63 Howell averaged a double-double of 22.7 points and 11.5 rebounds. The Pistons finished 34–46, losing to Bob Pettit and the St. Louis Hawks 3–1 in the playoffs, with Howell averaging 17.8 and 10.5 in the series.[18]

The Pistons replaced Dick McGuire with Charles Wolf as head coach in 1963–64 and the team finished 23–57. Howell again was an All-Star and averaged a double-double of 21.6 points and 10.1 rebounds.[19]

Baltimore Bullets (1964–1966)

On June 18, 1964, Howell's Detroit tenure ended. He was traded by the Pistons with Bob Ferry, Les Hunter, Wali Jones and Don Ohl to the Baltimore Bullets for Terry Dischinger, Don Kojis and Rod Thorn.[20]

With Baltimore in 1964–65, Howell led the league in personal fouls (345) and averaged 19.2 and 10.5 rebounds, playing alongside Walt Bellamy. The Bullets finished 37–43 under head coach Buddy Jeannette.[20][21] The Bullets won their first round series 3–1 over the St. Louis Hawks, before losing 4–2 to the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Finals, despite 21.8 points and 13.4 rebounds from Howell. Jerry West averaged 46.3 points and 6.8 assists for the Lakers in the series.[22]

Under head coach Paul Seymour (Jeannette moved to become the GM), the Bullets finished 38–42, and Howell averaged 17.5 points and 9.9 rebounds. The team was swept by the St. Louis Hawks in the playoffs.[23]

Boston Celtics (1966–1970)

Howell's career took a landmark turn on September 1, 1966, when he was traded by the Baltimore Bullets to the Boston Celtics for Mel Counts in a trade engineered by the Celtics' Red Auerbach.[20] In Boston, Howell joined a roster loaded with future Hall of Famers: player-coach Bill Russell, John Havlicek, Don Nelson, K.C. Jones, Satch Sanders, Wayne Embry and Sam Jones. Howell blended in quite well, averaging 20.0 points and 8.4 rebounds for the 60–21 Celtics. Undoubtedly Russell's rebounding skills kept a few from Howell, as Russell averaged 21.0 rebounds per game.[24] The Celtics defeated the New York Knicks 3–1 in the playoffs, before losing 4–1 to Wilt Chamberlain and the eventual NBA Champion Philadelphia 76ers in the Eastern Conference Finals. Chamberlain averaged a triple-double of 32.0 points, 21.6 rebounds and 10.0 assists in the series. Howell averaged 17.2 points and 6.8 rebounds.[25]

Howell earned an NBA Championship ring in 1967–68. The Celtics won the NBA Title, defeating the Los Angeles Lakers 4–2 in the NBA Finals. Howell averaged 19.8 points and 9.8 rebounds in the regular season as the 54–28 Celtics earned Russell his first title as head coach. The Celtics beat the Pistons 4–2 in the playoffs, with Howell third on the team with 17.7 points in the series.[26]

In a rematch against Chamberlain and the 76ers in the 1968 Eastern Conference Finals, the Celtics prevailed 4–3 with a 100–96 game seven win, with 17 points and 10 rebounds from Howell.[27]

In the 1968 NBA Finals against the Lakers with Elgin Baylor and Jerry West, Howell averaged 21.0 points and 7.5 rebounds in the 4–2 series victory for the Celtics.[28]

The Celtics defended their NBA Title in 1968–69, earning Howell a second NBA Championship ring. The Celtics finished 48–34 in the regular season as the 32-year-old Howell averaged 19.7 points an 8.8 rebounds on the season, second on the team in scoring to Havlicek and second in rebounding to Russell.[29]

In the 1969 playoffs, the Celtics beat the 76ers 4–1 and the Knicks 4–2 in the Eastern Conference Finals, to set up a rematch with the Lakers in the NBA Finals. Baylor and West now had Chamberlain alongside them as a teammate.[29]

In the 1969 NBA Finals, the Celtics won in seven classic games. Game seven was a 108–106 Celtic win in Los Angeles. Howell averaged 10.6 points and 5.3 rebounds in the series.

Bill Russell retired after the 1969 title, with Tommy Heinsohn taking over as head coach of the Celtics in 1969–70. With an aging lineup and without Russell the Celtics slipped to 34–48, missing the playoffs. Howell averaged 12.6 points and 6.7 rebounds at age 33.[30]

Philadelphia 76ers (1970–1971)

After the season, on May 11, 1970, Howell was drafted by the Buffalo Braves from the Celtics in the NBA expansion draft. He was immediately traded by the Braves to the Philadelphia 76ers for Bob Kauffman and a future 1971 2nd round draft pick (Spencer Haywood).[20]

At age 34, Howell played one final NBA season with the 76ers in a slightly reduced role, averaging 10.7 points and 5.4 rebounds for the 47–35 76ers under head coach Jack Ramsey.[31] The 76ers were defeated by the Bullets in the playoffs with Howell averaging 6.7 points and 4.4 rebounds in the series.[32]

Career legacy

Overall, Howell played 12 seasons (1959–1971) in the National Basketball Association (NBA) as a member of the Detroit Pistons (1959–1964), Baltimore Bullets (1964–1966), Boston Celtics (1966–1970), and Philadelphia 76ers (1970–1971). A six-time All-Star with 17,770 career points (18.7) and 9383 rebounds (9.9), he was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1997. He won two NBA championships with the Boston Celtics.[20] The best years of his career were during his time with the Celtics and the Pistons.

At the time of his retirement from the NBA in 1971, Howell ranked among the NBA's top 10 leaders in nine statistical categories.[3]

Hall of Fame announcer Dick Vitale called Howell the greatest offensive rebounder in history.[33]

Personal life

Howell married Mary Lou Flowers in 1964. They have lived in Starkville, Mississippi for many years.[34]

After his career ended in 1971, Howell returned to Mississippi State earning his master's degree in physical education while assisting the men's basketball team.[34] Howell went to work with the Converse shoe company most notably working with developing the Converse All-Star. He is very active in Mississippi State athletics fund-raising, specifically the Bulldog Club which raises funds to pay for MSU athletic scholarships.[34]

Howell has served as an elder for the Starkville Church of Christ for many years.[35]

Howell is the father of Mississippi Board of Realtors CEO Beth Hansen and father-in-law of current University of Florida athletic director, Scott Stricklin, a Mississippi State graduate who was athletic director at his alma mater before taking the same position at Florida.[36][37] Stricklin is married to the former Anne Howell, the youngest daughter of Bailey Howell. Anne Howell was a three-time All-Lone Star Conference team member and played tennis for Abilene Christian. Bailey and Mary Lou Howell have three daughters. Their oldest daughter, Amy Howell Allen, and her husband, Stan, live in Paducah, Kentucky.[38]

Honors and awards

NBA career statistics

  GP Games played   GS  Games started  MPG  Minutes per game
 FG%  Field goal percentage  3P%  3-point field goal percentage  FT%  Free throw percentage
 RPG  Rebounds per game  APG  Assists per game  SPG  Steals per game
 BPG  Blocks per game  PPG  Points per game  Bold  Career high
 †  Won an NBA championship

Regular season

1959–60 Detroit 75 31.3 .456 .739 10.5 0.8 17.8
1960–61 Detroit 77 38.3 .469 .753 14.4 2.5 23.6
1961–62 Detroit 79 36.2 .464 .768 12.6 2.4 19.9
1962–63 Detroit 79 37.6 .516 .798 11.5 2.9 22.7
1963–64 Detroit 77 35.1 .472 .809 10.1 2.7 21.6
1964–65 Baltimore 80 37.2 .495 .801 10.9 2.6 19.5
1965–66 Baltimore 78 29.8 .488 .730 9.9 2.0 17.5
1966–67 Boston 81 30.9 .512 .741 8.4 1.3 20.0
1967–68 Boston 82 34.2 .481 .727 9.8 1.6 19.8
1968–69 Boston 78 32.4 .487 .735 8.8 1.8 19.7
1969–70 Boston 82 25.3 .429 .763 6.7 1.5 12.6
1970–71 Philadelphia 82 19.4 .472 .730 5.4 1.4 10.7
Career 950 32.2 .480 .762 9.9 2.0 18.7
All-Star 6 13.5 .394 .750 1.7 1.3 5.3


1960 Detroit 2 36.0 .341 .750 8.5 1.5 17.0
1961 Detroit 5 30.8 .351 .696 9.2 4.4 11.2
1962 Detroit 10 37.8 .423 .827 9.6 2.3 20.0
1963 Detroit 4 40.8 .375 .852 10.5 2.8 17.8
1965 Baltimore 9 38.9 .515 .757 11.7 2.1 20.8
1966 Baltimore 3 31.3 .460 .727 10.0 0.7 18.0
1967 Boston 9 26.8 .484 .667 7.3 0.6 15.3
1968 Boston 19 31.4 .511 .692 7.7 1.2 18.1
1969 Boston 18 30.6 .489 .719 6.6 1.1 15.0
1971 Philadelphia 7 17.4 .422 .500 4.4 0.6 6.7
Career 86 31.7 .465 .732 8.1 1.5 16.3

See also


  1. ^ Veazey, Kyle (October 2, 2012). Champions For Change: How the Mississippi State Bulldogs and Their Bold Coach Defied Segregation. Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 9781614237228 – via Google Books.
  2. ^ a b c d r2WPadmin. "Bailey Howell". Mississippi Encyclopedia.((cite web)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  3. ^ a b c d McClellan, Michael (September 21, 2018). "The Bailey Howell Interview".
  4. ^ Veazey, Kyle (October 2, 2012). Champions For Change: How the Mississippi State Bulldogs and Their Bold Coach Defied Segregation. Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 9781614237228 – via Google Books.
  5. ^ "1956-57 Mississippi State Bulldogs Roster and Stats". College Basketball at
  6. ^ "1957-58 Mississippi State Bulldogs Roster and Stats". College Basketball at
  7. ^ "1958-59 Mississippi State Bulldogs Roster and Stats". College Basketball at
  8. ^ "NCAA College Basketball AP All-America Teams".
  9. ^ "Sports in Black and White". Retrieved January 29, 2019.
  10. ^ a b "Mississippi's Bailey Howell never had opportunity to be mad for March". sunherald.
  11. ^ "Bailey Howell College Stats". College Basketball at
  12. ^ Howell got his first post season experience as the Pistons lost 2–0 to the Minneapolis Lakers with Elgin Baylor and Frank Selvy.
  13. ^ "1960 NBA Western Division Semifinals - Minneapolis Lakers vs. Detroit Pistons".
  14. ^ "1960-61 Detroit Pistons Roster and Stats".
  15. ^ "1961 NBA Western Division Semifinals - Detroit Pistons vs. Los Angeles Lakers".
  16. ^ "1961-62 Detroit Pistons Roster and Stats".
  17. ^ "1962 NBA Western Division Finals - Detroit Pistons vs. Los Angeles Lakers".
  18. ^ "1962-63 Detroit Pistons Roster and Stats".
  19. ^ "1963-64 Detroit Pistons Roster and Stats".
  20. ^ a b c d e "Bailey Howell Stats".
  21. ^ "1964-65 Baltimore Bullets Roster and Stats".
  22. ^ "1965 NBA Western Division Finals - Baltimore Bullets vs. Los Angeles Lakers".
  23. ^ "1965-66 Baltimore Bullets Roster and Stats".
  24. ^ "1966-67 Boston Celtics Roster and Stats".
  25. ^ "1967 NBA Eastern Division Finals - Boston Celtics vs. Philadelphia 76ers".
  26. ^ "1968 NBA Eastern Division Semifinals - Detroit Pistons vs. Boston Celtics".
  27. ^ "1968 NBA Eastern Division Finals - Boston Celtics vs. Philadelphia 76ers".
  28. ^ "1968 NBA Finals - Los Angeles Lakers vs. Boston Celtics".
  29. ^ a b "1968-69 Boston Celtics Roster and Stats".
  30. ^ "1969-70 Boston Celtics Roster and Stats".
  31. ^ "1970-71 Philadelphia 76ers Roster and Stats".
  32. ^ "1971 NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals - Philadelphia 76ers vs. Baltimore Bullets".
  33. ^ "Hall of Famer Bailey Howell Settles the Bill vs. Wilt Debate and So Much More". Pull Up Jimbo.
  34. ^ a b c d "Bailey Howell « Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame".
  35. ^ "Starkville church of Christ - Bailey Howell". Archived from the original on January 29, 2019. Retrieved January 29, 2019.
  36. ^ "Howell sad to see son-in-law leave position at MSU". The Commercial Dispatch. October 2, 2016.
  37. ^ "Today in Celtics history: Bailey Howell, Patrick O'Bryant born". January 20, 2017.
  38. ^ "Florida Hires Scott Stricklin as Athletic Director". Florida Gators.
  39. ^ "Middleton High School".
  40. ^ "Mississippi State University M-Club Alumni Association & Sports Hall of Fame". Mississippi State University Athletics.
  41. ^ "Bailey Howell". November 5, 2012. Archived from the original on January 29, 2019. Retrieved January 29, 2019.
  42. ^ "The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame :: Bailey Howell".
  43. ^ "Gillom, Howell Trophy finalists announced". Mississippi Today. February 26, 2018.
  44. ^ Team, ITS Web Development (February 10, 2009). "Bailey Howell gets jersey retired". Mississippi State University.
  45. ^ "MSU to celebrate Bailey Howell Drive during Georgia game". The Clarion Ledger.