G650 Unrestricted Flight ScheduleDYNAMIC DUO Hall of Famers Claude Gross & Tee Parham NBA Denied/Philadelphia Basketball History
In the modern world of NBA basketball, the Dynamic Duo list is filled with the best of the best; Russell /Cousy, Chamberlain/Rodgers, Baylor / West, Unseld /Hayes, Kareem /Magic, Bird /McHale, Jordan /Pippen, Shaq /Kobe, Lebron /Wade, Westbrook /Durant and Curry/ Thompson. These collaborations are historical in the legacy of the NBA, and each duo has left markers along that narrow trail, that flows up the road to greatness.
The final word in basketball today is the NBA in the minds of most. Preceding the formal inception of the NBA, people judged players in the game and identified the great players they saw with their own eyes and or by word of mouth; generating an oral basketball history. Many of the best players of the day had stints with the Harlem Globetrotters including Claude Gross and Tee Parham. Years prior to the NBA were the great Harlem Globetrotters teams and the New York Rens. My college coach John Wooden told me that the New York Rens played some of the best team basketball he had ever seen. Prior to the NBA, Wooden traveled around on the Barnstorming professional circuit. Coach Wooden had special praise for William “Pop” Gates, one of the greatest players, shooters of the day ,as well as, Tarzan Cooper, the ferocious center for the New York Rens.
Basketball circa the 1950’s was still a segregated game, a casualty of the 1896 Plessy v Ferguson decision on society. The 1954 decision of Brown v Board of Education and the 1955 decision, of At All Deliberate Speed would eventually bring changes on the Game. Inner city basketball was not the beast it became during the 1960’s. Most of the top inner city players were not receiving scholarship offers commiserate with their abilities. Many players were forced to take lower level offers or just the one offer they received. How does a Ray ‘Chink’ Scott 6’9″ of West Philadelphia H.S. who battled against Overbrook’s Wilt Chamberlain get out of Philadelphia, Pa., without any offers and have to take an offer from Portland State? Giving Portland State credit, the college recognized they had a chance to get a special player and made it happen.
Obviously, there were players who fell through the interpretation of institutions’ view of separate is not equal as a cavern to move at their All Determined Speed. Claude Gross and Tee Parham, fell through the cracks of this college ratio to Black athletic players , America’s historical cavern.
Once Claude Gross and Tee Parham’s playing days were over they became servants, giving back into the lives of literally hundreds maybe thousands of youth turned to young men, to men, including myself. Claude Gross and Tee Parham lived the majority of their lives as working men who after eight hours of work, gave their valuable time to nurturing young ballers, time that could have given to their families. After work, they were trustworthy and consistent contributors of a Philly Basketball Phenomenon called the Sonny Hill League, birthed from The Charles Baker Summer Pro-League. They would give their gifts for over forty years, Claude Gross as a coach and Tee Parham as a referee.The Dynamic Duo always there at the game site, 21st and Chew, Bright Hope and McGonigle Hall, never complaining, always with a word of encouragement for all the players, or a Coach Claude “tough word” to help players who had strayed to get back on course.
Coach, referee, is who I knew them to be, but that changed. As I was growing in developing my basketball game, I began hearing word that my Sonny Hill League coach Claude Gross had been a really good player and so was that good referee named Tee Parham.
I would encounter basketball oral history discussions after games at Landreth Elementary’s court, the Christian Street YMCA, Marion Anderson Recreation Center and basketball courts all over the City of Brotherly Love. Often times the discussions turned to heated passionate interchanges among the older players as ‘the word of mouth” oral history flowed. Over the years, as more of the stories came to light, it became evident; My Sonny Hill League coach, Claude Gross, and our Sonny Hill League referee Tee Parham were some great players in their day. Their talent was recalled by people who saw with their own eyes the great games they played throughout their careers. I could see my coach Claude Gross around 6’7’ being a real player, but Mr. Parham took more faith to visualize, until the stories of the two kept coming!
The foreshadowing of who Claude Gross would become happened when as a sixteen year old Claude Gross helped develop some of his younger compadres in basketball. Ray ‘Chink’ Scott he used to walk to Kindergarten, and would go on to school Ray on the game that was becoming popular on the asphalt playgrounds of Philadelphia. A 14 year old Wilt Chamberlain was beginning to spread his wings with Claude giving input. Claude would later become Wilt’s brother-in-law. Dip as he was affectionately called. Claude was sharing what he was learning from his mentors with a young Wilt. Another youngster Claude imparted to was Tee Parham, his eventual teammate and partner on the Dynamic Duo battlefield of basketball. Joe Powell and Dave Riddick,were also his students. Claude said “They all turned out to be fine players.” Claude Gross reflecting, “How did I do that?” I was twelve years old when Zach Clayton told me I was going to be a great player when I decide to let my talent take over and move out fear! Strong Mentor !”
Claude Gross would use an old tennis or rubber ball to practice basketball in the darkness of the night at Barrett Hr. High School the court near his home, until his parents could afford to get him a basketball. A friend John Chaney let him rent his balloon/ basketball as Gross called it. Claude Gross would tell himself if I can make all these shots in the dark, I know I can make them in the daytime and under the lights, and he did. John Chaney did have a cash cow as he took the young Claude Gross’ $.30 cents chump change in their daily 1 on 1 matches.
Claude Gross felt his shooting and dribbling a tennis ball in the dark night after night helped him enhance his touch when he got a basketball in his hands. Claude Gross like many of South Philly’s African American players forsook his neighborhood high school, Southern, and migrated to Benjamin Franklin where the John Chaney, Bob Gainey show was in operation. Claude did not travel alone to Ben Franklin. He followed his friend, Richard Chaney, brother of John Chaney on his journey to North Philadelphia, not always a smooth transit from South Philly.
Many of the varsity players campaigned to their coach for Claude to be moved up to the varsity because of his height, skill and relationship with them, but he had one problem; His dad wasn’t having it. He was not sold on the idea of spending the time after school basketball required. There are more important things you can do with your time. You better have your butt home soon as school is out. Fortunately, Mr. Gross came around as Claude began leaving markers on the courts of Barrett Jr. High School, the YMCA and around the city playing ball in the evenings.
Ben Franklin’s coach wanted all of those outside performances and more as the next season came, but Franklin’s coach wasn’t getting all he needed from Gross. Claude said he started out that next season okay, scoring around 18 ppg. grabbing about 5-7 rebounds and that was respectable. His issues at home were resolved regarding basketball so he played on varsity. His friend and teammate Richard Chaney carried the load as the top scorer averaging around 22 ppg. and Gross was scoring around 18 ppg. that was how the newspapers reported it and then it happened!
Ben Franklin was playing an away game, at South Philadelphia High School. Franklin needed this win, first place was at stake and Southern was a good team capable of beating Franklin. Southern was having its way with Ben Franklin and the coach had seen enough, he called timeout. During the timeout the coach called Gross over and told him let loose . . . let it go, “Take Over”. In other words you get it done! Claude Gross got the message and he never looked back a monster had awakened. Gross went on to score 29 points, grabbed 19 rebounds and blocked 15 shots!
Claude Gross went on to destroy the Public league and any other opponent even the young developing Wilt Chamberlain. His Franklin team beat all the top teams of the day in the Public League, Overbrook, Northeast, Lincoln; “We beat Everybody”, Gross emphatically declared. Gross was 1st team All-Public and was the 3rd leading scorer in the Public League behind # 1 Drew Belmont and the # 2 scorer the sharp shooting Hal Lear.
Colleges today recruit players no matter what their ethnicity, if they can Play. So if a Claude Gross was playing today every former Big Five schools and now the Atlantic 10 teams in the area would be trying to keep him home with a full ride scholarship. During, the 1950’s it was not so for many top players like a John Chaney who had to matriculate to Bethune Cookman University, in Florida where he excelled but never had the national platform larger universities could have provided for someone with his talent level. John Chaney is regarded as one of the best ball-handlers ever to come out of Philadelphia and that is saying a lot when you look at the talented ball-handlers who were produced in the City of Brotherly Love.
Outside the Public League, in the evenings and on the weekends Claude played basketball on industrial, company or brand named store’s teams including the YMCA. Top players throughout the Philadelphia area played on these teams so the competition was fierce. Teams recruited players and paid to get the best players to win.
South Philly’s Christian Street YMCA had established a legacy for many basketball players the Christian Street Y was a center piece in their basketball lives for many years. The best played at and represented the Christian Street YMCA.
In 1953, a seventeen year old Claude Gross played for Coach Buchanan on a YMCA team that was filled with some of Philadelphia’s finest players including a young Wilt Chamberlain. They were so good that they got to vie for the national championship playing an undefeated North Carolina squad with a laundry list of players that would go on to play major college basketball and some pro ball. This all white team had won 96 straight games and they wanted to be national champions! I know what you are thinking, the Y team had Wilt Chamberlain. Right?
As the story was told to me by Claude Gross, the trip to North Carolina, traveling in the South with an all Black team, coach and a giant of a teenager wasn’t a vacation. Obviously that story is for another day but we can only imagine the ills of such a trip in 1953. When they finally had gotten near game time it was becoming clear that Wilt Chamberlain’s thumb was bothering him and it was so bad he didn’t think he could play. Of course his older teammate and mentor tried to convince Wilt that he could play, . . . he had to play! According to Gross no one really talked openly about this piece of history, Wilt did not play, he hurt his thumb. According to Gross the team rallied together and fought this great undefeated team in an epic battle of basketball that was a precursor to the Men’s 1966 NCAA national championship between an all-white Kentucky Wildcat team coached by the legendary Adolph Rupp who faced Coach Don Haskin’s Texas El Paso team that started five Blacks and for the first time an all Black starting five beat a white team, It was “Glory Road”. It happened years earlier on a different road. Claude said he rose up his game as did his teammates, and they beat this great team in overtime. Wow, we needed this on video, but we have it on the film of life’s memories.
Claude Gross and Tee Parham both had illustrious high school careers though both players started out slow. Gross not being on the varsity and for the most part Tee Parham rode the bench his first year at Northeast High School a power house because of Guy Rodgers and Hal Lear. The great Guy Rodgers was averaging 37 points a game at Northeast. Most people assumed Wilt held all scoring titles during his high school career but Rodgers won the scoring title his senior year. Tee Parham said,” Rodgers played all the time and Overbrook’s Wilt Chamberlain played half the time so Wilt would not be scoring 60, 70 points a game”.
Tee Parham watched Rodgers put up those league leading numbers in 8 minute quarters from the bench. In his sophomore year, Tee watched Rodgers lead his Northeast team to win after win, eventually playing in a packed to capacity Palestra Field House only to fight an uphill battle against Wilt Chamberlain and his Overbrook Hill toppers who were at the top of the hill!
When Rodgers graduated from Northeast High school, it was Tee Parham’s turn and man did the little guy from Northeast H.S. start lightning up the Public League and any where else he was playing outside school. In his Jr. season, Tee and his back court partner Mousey took over at guard as Northeast did not skip a beat. Parham rose from the ranks off the bench to a 25 point a game scorer, received the most All-Public votes except for who else Wilton Norman Chamberlain. It was still in the rarefied air up there and Tee Parham was breathing that rare air up there with Wilt.
Now being fully informed of Tee Parham’s legendary shot extraordinaire status leads me to only imagine what he was doing. Not tall, not the quickest, not over athletic, no dunking , not super strong, but he was getting it done, not just scoring but play making, navigating, playing to win, a winner! Parham would continue his exploits at Northeast. Once again leading his team back to a packed house at the Palestra only to face another giant of the day Ray ‘Chink’ Scott who would beat Northeast, despite the physical pounding they put on West Philly High Schools’ Ray ‘Chink’ Scott.
The Dynamic Duo had not formed yet as Claude Gross had finished his illustrious career at Benjamin Franklin high school. He left markers but no scholarship offers. Things were not as clear as they are today about the connection of grades and receiving a basketball scholarship. There were rare examples of Philly’s African American high school stars ending up at the local or surrounding colleges yet there was no re-enforcement of racial bias loosening its grip.
Tee Parham, did not have proper guidance on the order of his college prep classes in high school. He is constantly telling young people he encounters, “play ball but get the right classes for your academics”. Tee Parham tried; he would take his remaining classes at Northeast and then head down on Broad Street to Temple University to take Temple Prep classes.
Tee Parham’s efforts with Temple unfortunately came to nothing. No bridge was established but the talent was there. During these years, Tee and many others with this caliber of talent were ignored by colleges throughout the Greater Philadelphia Pennsylvania region. North Carolina A&T’s Coach Cal Irving expressed interest in Tee. Coach Cal, had brought in Al Attles and a few other top notch players, but for Tee …, they could not work it out. Now Tee Parham gets nothing at home but the great powerhouse Kansas wanted Tee Parham to team up with Wilt. They were smart. Would North Carolina have been able to triple team Wilt in the NCAA national championship Finals, if they had Tee Parham? No! He would have his two hand set shot and every other shot available because of the triple team . It would have been a win for Tee, Wilt and Kansas, but they could not make it happen. At least the people of Kansas did not let any racial bias that existed stop them from wanting to win. They thought Wilt was enough but that little guy with Wilt, who they could not get in was their answer to winning a national championship, James “Tee” Parham the shot extraordinaire!
Claude took classes at Franklin and he also did some prep school work after school, but in the end nothing manifested. Claude Gross, great player, All high school Mr. Everything Claude Gross would not step his toe on a college campus to matriculate as a student-athlete.
Now we have two players who were for sure top level college players, potential pros., not where they should be. Mainly because of lack of support academically in high school.They were not seeing their predecessors going to college locally and when they did see one of their own get some love it was from far away or for a select few like Guy Rogers and Hal Lear, a lot had to fall in place and after a few got in the door was shut. For the few exceptions to take place, somebody knew somebody, who knew somebody and the barrier was slightly opened then shut. Young players of that day knew that no matter how good you played the likelihood that you would be recruited by any of the colleges in the area, where they know who you are, was remote.
Players of any day needed to be told and re-enforced before the eighth grade by their coaches, counselors and others that you are going to have to be focused on academics just as you are in basketball, if you want to take advantage of this opportunity. Parents need to fly like eagle/ hawks in the air over the academic requirements of their children But that is the point during these times, the opportunities,information was not readily accessible to those not associated with higher education. Today Parents must be in tune with NCAA changes of curriculum requirements for college entrance. In the fifties there were restraints of separate but equal strings attached to the lack of college scholarship opportunities, in the hope years of youth for Claude Gross and Tee Parham college ended up being an illusion.
Among the inner city players it was a foregone reality that it was not going to happen. Where else can I continue to play basketball against competition? Claude and Tee knew just what to do but for Claude it took an offer of $5.00 to play that would change his basketball career forever. Claude abruptly stated, “Five Dollars, I would have played basketball for nothing, but if you are gonna pay me, I’ll take it. That five dollar payment for a “basketball player for hire” set the stage for arguably the greatest Industrial League Dynamic Duo ever. Hank Grossa, assistant to Eddie Gottlieb of the Philadelphia Warriors, became Claude’s friend then agent. Claude said,” Hank made sure teams/companies did not nickel and dime Gross”. This relationship makes the final outcome more bizarre and would impact the history of the NBA.
One day Claude had a special bill he had to pay and it took all the money he had. When he dragged into the elevator after having to empty his pockets, a white man got on with him. The man said are you Claude Gross? Claude said, “Yes I am”. The man began to tell Claude, he had a team and proceeded to name some the top white basketball players in the area, but I was in need of a rebounder. Claude forcefully but politely said,” I score the ball, I do everything, I win basketball games. I don’t think I am interested.”
The man did not give up, he said,” I will give you $55, just to come to practice and watch the other players”, (good money in those days, especially for doing nothing but watching some players practice.) Claude asked the man in the elevator one more thing before he gave his final answer, “Can I catch a Cab to come to the practice?” The man was smart he said, “of course”. Once Gross arrived at practice, he saw up close who would be his teammates. “They were some good players but they had no real presence on the inside.” The team was missing that special ingredient a big man who can take his man in the post, shoot the 15 footer so pure he could make them in the dark, as he did as a kid. Most important to the owner was he was getting a great rebounder. Claude also brought some intangibles, he could block shots, make plays passing the ball, and had an uncanny but strong will to win.
“Man, I didn’t turn the ball over when I played!, I played to win!” The business owner wanted an answer, he asked Gross,” What will it take to get you to join the team?” Claude responded,” What you are paying”, the man said, “Whatever you want”! Now you speaking my language! Claude recalled. Claude Gross didn’t need his agent for this negotiation. The deal was sealed. Gross was playing with the white boys. They won five straight championships.
Once Claude was comfortable with the team, he needed one more move that would sealed the deal, my young boy.” Hey man I got another player, he is a little fellow but he is the biggest thing, outside of me, of course, out there. His name is Tee Parham. If you haven’t heard of him you will”. Claude and Tee hooked up and the Dynamic Duo was formed.
The Industrial League team owners were business people, owned furniture stores, sporting goods stores, all types of businesses and corporations. On occasion Claude played for his employer The United States Post Office. Together they; The Dynamic Duo played for Spike’s Trophies and the Norristown Block, whose owner had about seven stores. The teams /sponsor companies that could pay for players did so to give themselves access to some the best players on the market. Teams like Mr. Bill Berry put together had good players and were competitive teams, but he did not have the monetary backing some of these other teams had but he still fielded good teams.
These teams were rich with talent. Many African American players were on sponsored teams. The owners wanted their teams to win and their business name to be known. So despite any racial beliefs or other matters along those lines many business owners wanted to win and they knew that having a few Black players would improve their chance to win. Top Black players gave them the best chance to win and advance their business(es). That fact worked both ways, Claude Gross was assured and confident in himself as a Black man during these racially segregated times. Claude told me that one thing got in the way of his militant beliefs during these times and it was his favorite color green, green money! Sports has always been at the forefront of helping change racial barriers. Obviously sports cannot do it all on its own but competition exposes the substance within each competitor and the competition forces the unity necessary to win. Communication and bridges to understanding one another’s’ footsteps has taken place under the teammates threshold.
The Dynamic Duo, were winners! When I asked them about losing they were hard pressed to remember many losses.” I beat they ass”, shouted Claude when asked about his playing prowess. “Ask them”, he shouted, ask the boys from New York, Canada, Alaska, France they’ll tell you. I LEFT MY MARKER EVERYWHERE I PLAYED I only bow to one . . . Dip, Wilt Chamberlain and we beat him on occasions.” Claude averaged around 37 ppg. He reiterates a story about a conversation he had with a fellow in a gym, the discussion was all about basketball and different players etc. . . The conversation went on with this gentlemen who was a Villanova assistant coach. He was telling Claude about the merit of some guys, he’s naming guys, you know, players he knew, this guy that guy. Claude says to the coach I know guys better than them. So the coach says to Claude after about 45 minutes of basketball players etc…” Well what is your name?” Claude answers; Claude Gross, the man dropped his clip board, papers, that stuff fell under the stands and he says, “Naw, I saw you get 78, 60, 55 and on.” For years I have asked other players from that era but no one has refuted what Claude has shared with me in such a confident manner, almost daring me to check with others, and I did. Claude’s contemporaries all agree that he was a pioneer, because he was a bigger guy who could shoot from 15 feet and out, deep. and post you up.
When I asked Tee Parham about his compadre he said,” that Claude could do it all, shoot it, run like a deer, rebound, block shots, make plays passing and off the dribble and he can play defense. He was a defensive stopper and a help defense shot blocker and he didn’t turn the ball over.”
While speaking with Claude I created a situation on the court where I involved myself. Claude snared the defensive rebound, passed it to me in the middle so I could run the fast-break properly. Then I said, I got the ball on the break and I hit you on the wing what happens? . . . He immediately says ‘CHIPS’, I say they call that buckets today, he says, you got it, that shot was like a layup for me.
I asked Claude about Tee many times but this time he laid it out telling a quick story that boggles the mind. This story also sets the imagination for everyone who never saw Tee Parham play including me. May we get the immensity of the player, James”Tee” Parham.
Claude states, “Tee Parham was my young boy! I got him on the team, Tee can make any shot, I watched him play during this time, he was not just a great player he was a basketball genius! A lot of players were smart but Tee was a genius with the basketball. The way he played the game at his size and what he was doing was pure genius!”
Together as a Dynamic Duo, Claude said, “combine me who could hit any jump shot and Tee who could make and create any shot, along with offensive, defensive and rebounding fundamentals, teamwork, only playing to win not caring who got the credit or the most money, we beat their ass, all of them! You can tell them I said it and you can put it that blunt! … You can write it on Facebook or wherever, we won games, we won championships!”
The story goes like this; There was a game that was played, Guy Rodgers, Hal Lear had their crew of top flight players; other pros. Tee Parham had his crew. The game was played. After the game a coach came up to Guy Rodgers and Hal Lear and said; “Man I am glad you were here tonight, because if you were not HE would have got A Huundred points” TEE PARHAM HAD . . . 63 THAT NIGHT !!!
Talking with Tee Parham in 2017, he has a clear picture of the game and he sees his place in the history of the game. You can hear it in his voice, it is clear. I also created a scene on the court for Tee to dissect what he would do, so we may get a glimpse of his genius and talent on the court. Tee and I had been discussing Tee scoring over, around or through Wilt when Wilt had that 50 inch vertical. I said,” let’s set up a two on one what would you do?” But before he answered, I went over the fundamentals of a two on one. The best dribbler should have the basketball. The two players on a two on one should maintain good spacing so the lone defender cannot play both players. The rule is that the player with the basketball is supposed to attack the basket ferociously, but under control, with the intent to lay it up or do greater damage. If the break is done correctly the defender will commit if he believes the one with the ball has evil intent of scoring the basket. If the defender doesn’t commit you take it in for a layup or dunk. If the defender commits the one with the ball makes that great pass to his teammate for the layup or dunk. Tee Parham said, that I was right, but if Wilt was back there he would pull up for a 10-12 foot shot off the run. I said,” Most coaches would jump off the bench to get you immediately out of the game for taking that shot on a two on one break, it is a layup/dunk or nothing”. Tee said again,” you are right but that 10 -12 foot shot was automatic for me”. WHAT! We all know how hard that shot is on the run especially on a 2 on 1. I said,” Most players, even the best that ever played are not rollin like that.”
Tee would go on to say that once players get to know each other they have a sense of your capabilities. In the case of Wilt Chamberlain versus Tee Parham encounters, Wilt had been tricked by Tee enough to the point that on many of Tee’s approaches to the basket Wilt wouldn’t go to block Tee’s shot, he would just get in rebound position, so he could get the rebound on those seldom misses by Tee. Wilt didn’t like being tricked and he knew Tee Parham had a bag full of trick shots he could get over him or force him to goal tend. Two points!
Tee Parham said,” that when a player can handle the ball, get anywhere they want on the court off the dribble, shoot and pass equally and efficiently with either hand, can shoot it pure from long distance, mid-range and every layup imaginable, this player is unstoppable.” This is Tee Parham’s description of the way he played, in the hour glass of today’s NBA game; a forerunner of the NBA’s Unanimous, two time League MVP Stephen Curry. Everything Curry could do, Tee could do and more. Tee shot a two hand set shot that was automatic from any distance.There was no three point shot and players did not have the mind set to shoot that far but Tee did it whenever he needed to or wanted when he was feeling it.
Claude Gross and Tee Parham’s team played many preliminary games before the Philadelphia Warrior games at Convention Hall and The Arena. The NBA players and fans would come early to watch this team and these two pioneers in their own rights, precursors to the game today. They would put on a show,sometimes the games went long and they would run them off the court to get the main game started, the NBA players and the fans would boo.I asked Tee why these NBA teams never tried to get you on their team. Remember we are in the 1950’s. The NBA was young and racial prejudice ran rampant, At All Deliberate Speed the 1955 ruling was vague and not implemented.The non compliance to the Supreme court rulings of 1954, Brown v Board, Separate is not equal and1955, At All Deliberate Speed is was why King led the March on Washington. If a team had one Black player on a team That was a lot, 2 was not normal and 3 or 4 was out and 5 was only the Boston Celtics.
Tee Parham and Claude Gross had sit downs with Eddie Gottlieb the owner of the Philadelphia Warriors and a pioneer when you talk about Jewish basketball and the NBA’s early history. I want to share Tee Parham’s clear assessment and the conclusions that still resonate with him. In his meeting with Mr. Gottlieb, Tee explained to Mr. Gottlieb that he should hire /sign him on the team. The next year, 1959, the Warriors had the Territorial Draft pick and it would be Wilt Chamberlain. Tee reasoned to Mr Gottlieb that he could learn the league this year so when Wilt came Tee would already know the league and be ready for Wilt and the double and triple teaming that was waiting for him in the NBA. Mr. Gottlieb felt maybe Tee was too small and they would post him up. Then Tee said “but next year you are going to have the greatest shot-blocker basketball has ever seen guarding the paint.”
Claude’s visit was similar because he had played along side Wilt and had the solution for the double triple team. Ball goes into Chamberlain, he is double teamed, Chamberlain passes back out to Gross . . . Chips, bucket made! Chamberlain catches the ball in the paint he is immediately triple teamed passes out beyond the top of the key to an open Tee Parham . . Bang! Red Auerbach calls time out as the Warriors go on a run as Boston’s defensive strategy has no answer for the sharp shooting Dynamic Duo of Gross and Parham.
Tee Parham believes with all his heart that had Mr Gottlieb had the vision and willingness like Red Auerbach and the Boston Celtics, history would definitely have been different. When Wilt Chamberlain joined the Warriors in 1959 he led them to 4 consecutive playoff runs only to lose to Bill Russell, Red Auerbach and the Boston Celtics
The Boston Celtics were willing to go against the American societal racial barriers by signing African American players to their team in degrees higher than other NBA teams in the early years of the NBA, in pursuit of winning championships.
Tee Parham felt that the Philadelphia Warriors should have signed he and Claude Gross,because both had successfully played against all of the Black NBA players like Guy Rodgers, Andy Johnson,and Woody Salisbury. Tee said that Claude would have been able to, not only hit the open jump shots, rebound the weak side when Wilt went to help or block shots, but most importantly he could have guarded Tommy Heinsohn who was a constant thorn in the side of the Warriors when they would meet in the playoffs. Tee knows he could do everything Bob Cousy did with the basketball . Tee Parham could score and was unstoppable, Parham was the shot making extraordinaire.
Eddie Gottlieb did not grow up rich so when the opportunity arose he would sell the Warriors for $600,000.00 (SIX hundred thousand dollars) which was a bunch of money at the time. The Warriors and Wilt Chamberlain moved to San Francisco. In a couple of his books Wilt Chamberlain says he tried to convince the Warriors to bring in a couple of his guys but they didn’t listen.
I asked Tee Parham, you guys were doing all the damage you were on the basketball court and they saw it right in front of their eyes, when you guys played in the preliminary games . . . why didn’t they pick you and Claude up? “Andre, they just couldn’t see it or maybe they could see . . .” Wow, what would basketball history look like if the Dynamic Duo had not had their gift blocked from the NBA? We can only imagine.
They thought all they needed was Wilt, but they were wrong, they needed the Dynamic Duo: Claude Gross & James “Tee” Parham! Pass the Word!