Joe Fulks
Fulks in 1946
Personal information
Born(1921-10-26)October 26, 1921
Birmingham, Kentucky, U.S.
DiedMarch 21, 1976(1976-03-21) (aged 54)
Eddyville, Kentucky, U.S.
Listed height6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)
Listed weight190 lb (86 kg)
Career information
High schoolKuttawa (Kuttawa, Kentucky)
CollegeMurray State (1941–1943)
Playing career1946–1954
PositionPower forward
Career history
19461954Philadelphia Warriors
Career highlights and awards
Career statistics
Points8,003 (16.4 ppg)
Rebounds1,379 (5.3 rpg)
Assists587 (1.2 apg)
Stats Edit this at Wikidata at
Stats at
Basketball Hall of Fame as player
College Basketball Hall of Fame
Inducted in 2006

Joseph Franklin "Jumping Joe" Fulks (October 26, 1921 – March 21, 1976) was an American professional basketball player. The NBA's first scoring champion, he was sometimes called "the first of the high-scoring forwards". He was posthumously enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1978.

Early life

Fulks was born in Birmingham, Kentucky, a small town in the state's far-western Purchase region that was inundated in the 1940s after the Tennessee Valley Authority dammed the Tennessee River to create Kentucky Lake.

College career

He played college ball at Murray State University (then known as Murray State Teachers College) for two years before leaving school to join the Marines in May 1942. He served with 3rd Battalion, 9th Marines during World War II, and was discharged as a corporal in May 1946. His number 26 hangs in the rafters at Murray State's CFSB Center.

Professional career

Philadelphia Warriors (1946–1954)

Fulks joined the BAA's Philadelphia Warriors in 1946, at age 25, and as a rookie won the league's first scoring title with a 23.2 points per game average as the Warriors won the BAA title. Fulks again led the league's in scoring average during the 1947–48 season at 22.1 points per game, but lost the scoring title to Max Zaslofsky, who had more total points. Fulks had a career best 26.0 points per game average in the 1948–49 season. Fulks led the NBA in free throw percentage during the 1950–51 season.

Fulks set the BAA/NBA single game scoring record four different times. On December 3, 1946, in just his eighth game as a professional, Fulks became the league's record holder for most points scored in a single game when he scored 37 points, making 16 field goals and five free throws, in Philadelphia's 76–68 win over the Providence Steam Rollers. Just 20 games later on January 14, 1947, Fulks set a new single game scoring record when he scored 41 points, making 15 field goals and 11 free throws, in Philadelphia's 104–74 win over the Toronto Huskies. In the 1946–47 season, Fulks also led the league in scoring for its inaugural season, scoring 23.2 points per game. Two seasons later, on December 18, 1948, Fulks tied Carl Braun's single game scoring record[1] when he scored 47 points, making 18 field goals and 11 free throws, in Philadelphia's 94–90 win against the Providence Steamrollers.[2]

For the fourth and final time, Fulks set a new single-game scoring record when he scored 63 points on February 10, 1949.[3][4] It remained the most in an NBA game until Elgin Baylor scored 64 points in a 1959 game. Fulks' 63-point outburst came during a Warriors 108–87 victory over the Indianapolis Jets. Fulks made 27 of 56 field goal attempts and nine of 14 free throws. Along the way he shattered the record for most points in one half (33), field goals, and field goal attempts. Two seasons after his 63-point game, on January 4, 1951, Fulks grabbed a career-high 16 rebounds, alongside scoring 20 points, in a 92–69 win over the Baltimore Bullets.[5]

The 6'5" (1.96 m) Fulks was known both for his athletic drives to the basket as well as his shooting. He was perhaps most remembered as one of the pioneers of the modern jump shot. During his early career, Fulks was considered the league's greatest offensive player. In his first three seasons, Fulks averaged 23.9 points per game at a time when, before the advent of the shot-clock, teams rarely scored over 70 points in a game. Fulks was named to the All-BAA First Team during his first three seasons. In 1971, he was one of 25 players named to the NBA 25th Anniversary Team. However, indicative of his era, Fulks was a low-efficiency shooter, holding the 18th-worst career field goal percentage in NBA history for players who attempted at least 1,000 shots, making only 30.2% of the shots he attempted.[6] He holds the record for missed shots in a game, in both the regular season and playoffs.[7]

Later life and death

Upon his retirement, Fulks returned to Marshall County, Kentucky, where he lived the remainder of his life. He worked at the Kentucky State Penitentiary as the prison recreation director. Fulks was shot and killed on March 21, 1976, by Gregg Bannister, the son of his girlfriend, Roberta Bannister, during an argument over a handgun. A jury found Bannister guilty of reckless homicide and he was sentenced to four and a half years in prison.[8] Fulks was buried in Briensburg, Kentucky.

BAA/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  *  Led the league

Regular season

1946–47 Philadelphia 60 .305 .730 .4 23.2*
1947–48 Philadelphia 43 .259 .762 .6 22.1*
1948–49 Philadelphia 60 .313 .787 1.2 26.0
1949–50 Philadelphia 68 .278 .696 .8 14.2
1950–51 Philadelphia 66 .316 .855* 7.9 1.8 18.7
1951–52 Philadelphia 61 31.2 .312 .825 6.0 2.0 15.1
1952–53 Philadelphia 70 29.8 .346 .727 5.5 2.0 11.9
1953–54 Philadelphia 61 8.2 .266 .571 1.7 .5 2.5
Career 489 23.4 .302 .766 5.3 1.2 16.4
All-Star 2 9.0 .409 .700 6.0 2.5 12.5


1947 Philadelphia 10 .288 .787 .3 22.2
1948 Philadelphia 13 .242 .810 .2 21.7
1949 Philadelphia 1 .000 .000 .0 .0
1950 Philadelphia 2 .192 .500 1.0 7.5
1951 Philadelphia 2 .327 .741 8.0 .5 26.0
1952 Philadelphia 3 23.3 .152 .778 4.0 .7 5.7
Career 31 23.3 .258 .782 5.6 .4 19.0

See also


  1. ^ Goldstein, Richard (February 11, 2010), "Carl Braun, an All-Star With the Knicks, Dies at 82", The New York Times
  2. ^ "Basketball-Reference: Philadelphia Warriors at Providence Steam Rollers Box Score, December 18, 1948". Retrieved November 22, 2019.
  3. ^ "2006–2007 Statistical Yearbook" (PDF). Retrieved May 6, 2019.
  4. ^ "1946–47 Philadelphia Warriors Schedule and Results". Retrieved May 6, 2019.
  5. ^ “Joe Fulks Career High 16 Rebounds”
  6. ^ “Worst Career Field Goal Percentages”
  7. ^ "Joe Fulks has missed the most field goals in a game, with 42 misses against the Providence Steam Rollers on March 18, 1948. StatMuse". Retrieved August 17, 2018.
  8. ^ Christgau, John (1999). The Origins of the Jump Shot: Eight Men who Shook the World of Basketball. U of Nebraska Press. pp. 106–34. ISBN 978-0-8032-6394-9. Retrieved November 30, 2020.

Further reading