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Joe Ruklick
Personal information
Born (1938-08-03)August 3, 1938
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Died September 17, 2020(2020-09-17) (aged 82)
Morton Grove, Illinois, U.S.
High school Princeton (Princeton, Illinois)
Listed height 6 ft 9 in (2.06 m)
Listed weight 220 lb (100 kg)
Career information
College Northwestern (1956–1959)
NBA Draft 1959 / Round: 2 / Pick: 9th overall
Selected by the Philadelphia Warriors
Pro career 1959–1962
Career history
1959–1962 Philadelphia Warriors
Career highlights and awards
  • Third-team All-American – AP, NABC (1959)
Career NBA statistics
Points 398 (3.5 ppg)
Rebounds 286 (2.5 rpg)
Assists 48 (0.4 apg)

Joseph Wayne Ruklick (/ˈrʌklɪk/ RUCK-lik; August 3, 1938 – September 17, 2020) was an American professional basketball player for the Philadelphia Warriors of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He played college basketball for the Northwestern Wildcats and was an All-American in 1959. Ruklick was selected by Philadelphia in the second round of the 1959 NBA draft. He was known for passing the ball for the assist on Warriors teammate Wilt Chamberlain's final score en route to his NBA record 100-point game.

Early life

Ruklick was born in Chicago, but he moved to an orphanage in Princeton, Illinois, after his mother was diagnosed with tuberculosis when he was 11. He attended Princeton High School, leading the team to consecutive state tournaments in 1954 and 1955.

College career

Ruklick attended Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. He played three seasons with the Wildcats, leading the team in both scoring and rebounds each year. Ruklick averaged 23 points and 13 rebounds as a senior in 1958–59, when he was named a third-team All-American by the Associated Press and National Association of Basketball Coaches. He finished with career averages of 19.9 points and 13.2 rebounds per game.

Ruklick guarded Wilt Chamberlain in his first collegiate game with Kansas in 1956. Chamberlain had 52 points and 31 rebounds, and his scoring total remains a Kansas single-game record. Ruklick countered with 22 points but fouled out with 9:30 remaining in the game. "I held him to 52", quipped Ruklick in 2002.

Professional career

Ruklick was selected by the Philadelphia Warriors in the second round of the 1959 NBA draft with the ninth overall pick. In teammate Wilt Chamberlain's 100-point game, he got the assist for Wilt's 100th point and played eight minutes. Late in the game after Chamberlain has already scored 100, Ruklick missed two free throws, stating afterwards that he intentionally missed the second in hopes that Chamberlain might rebound it and get 102 points.

After Ruklick's third season with the Warriors, the team moved to San Francisco. Averaging only 3.5 points and eight minutes per game in his career as a backup to Chamberlain, he asked to be traded in order to play more. However, the team refused. According to Ruklick, owner Eddie Gottlieb told him, "We need you next year. Fans won't buy tickets if you have too many Negroes." Ruklick left the team over moral objections.

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

Regular season

1959–60 Philadelphia Warriors 39 9.8 .397 .722 3.5 .6 5.0
1960–61 Philadelphia Warriors 29 7.7 .358 .615 2.1 .3 3.2
1961–62 Philadelphia Warriors 46 6.6 .327 .462 1.9 .3 2.3
Career 114 8.0 .366 .613 2.5 .4 3.5


1960 Philadelphia Warriors 4 3.8 .222 1.3 .0 1.0
1962 Philadelphia Warriors 2 4.0 .250 .500 2.0 .3 1.5
Career 6 3.8 .231 .500 1.5 .4 1.2


Later years

After his NBA career, Ruklick worked in investment banking. He received a graduate degree from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism at the age of 50. He worked at newspapers including The Galesburg Register-Mail and later The Chicago Defender, where he was the only white among the African-American newspaper's 22-person editorial staff.

Ruklick lived in Evanston, and frequently attended Northwestern games while reporting for the Aurora Voice. He died of natural causes at 82 on September 17, 2020.

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