Swede Halbrook

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Swede Halbrook
Swede Halbrook.jpg
Halbrook with the Wichita Vickers.
Personal information
Born (1933-01-30)January 30, 1933
Died April 5, 1988(1988-04-05) (aged 55)
Portland, Oregon
Nationality American
Listed height 7 ft 3 in (2.21 m)
Listed weight 235 lb (107 kg)
Career information
High school Lincoln (Portland, Oregon)
College Oregon State (1953–1955)
NBA draft 1956 / Round: 4 / Pick: 28th overall
Selected by the Syracuse Nationals
Playing career 1956–1962
Position Center
Number 11
Career history
1956–1961 Wichita Vickers
1961–1962 Syracuse Nationals
Career highlights and awards
Career NBA statistics
Points 786 (5.5 ppg)
Rebounds 949 (6.6 rpg)
Assists 64 (0.4 apg)
Stats at Basketball-Reference.com

Harvey Wade "Swede" Halbrook (January 30, 1933 – April 5, 1988) was an American former National Basketball Association (NBA) player who from 1960 to 1962. He played in college for Oregon State University, and at 7 ft 3 in (2.21 m), was at the time the tallest player to ever play college and professional basketball.[1]

High school career[edit]

Swede Halbrook played high school basketball at Lincoln High School in Portland, Oregon where he also starred in track as a high jumper and hurdler. Lincoln won the state tournament in Halbrook's senior year. In one tournament game he scored 50 points and had 34 rebounds.

College career[edit]

When Halbrook joined the Oregon State Beavers, Life magazine declared him the "World's Tallest Basketball Player" in their Jan. 18, 1954 issue.[1] Under legendary head coach Slats Gill, he instantly turned the team into a national title contender, earning All-American status in 1955 and All-Pacific Coast Conference first team and All-Northern Division first team honors in 1954 and 1955, the only two seasons he played. As of 2006, he still holds the top 3 spots on Oregon State's single game rebound records, his top performance of 36 being tied for 15th in NCAA history. He also holds the Oregon State record for free throws attempted at 28.[2]

Professional career[edit]

Halbrook signed with the Wichita Vickers in 1956, where he played five seasons and led the team to the national AAU title in 1959. The next year he was selected to play for the Syracuse Nationals. He played in 79 games for them in the 1960–61 season, with his team making it to the NBA playoffs and finishing the season in third place. Halbrook was a key presence in many of the Nationals' victories, including a 3-game series sweep over Wilt Chamberlain and the Philadelphia Warriors. Syracuse coach Alex Hannum told an Oregonian reporter that "Wilt was really concerned with Swede...Wilt never had to look anyone in the eye and he would get more involved in trying to outplay Swede than he would in trying to win the game."

The following season he played in 64 games for the Nationals, that season marking the end of his professional career. He remained the tallest player in NBA history until the 1982 draft brought Mark Eaton and Chuck Nevitt into the league.

Personal life[edit]

Off-court issues cut short both Halbrook's college and professional careers. He would reportedly go missing for days, sometimes weeks at a time without explanation.[3] Oregon State coach Gill was forced to cut him from the team after only two seasons for skipping class so often. Nationals coach Hannum is quoted to have said that "He could have had a worthwhile career if he had taken care of himself. During his second season, he disappeared for a week and we sent the police out to look for him. But they couldn’t find a 7-footer! He came back on his own but he never would tell me where he had been." [3]

Swede moved to Portland, Oregon after being released from the Nationals and worked at a variety of odd jobs for the remainder of his life. In later life, he worked as a circus clown and was given the title of the "World's Tallest Clown". He died of a heart attack on April 5, 1988 on a Portland city bus.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "OSU's Famous Alumni". Retrieved 2006-09-09. 
  2. ^ "Oregon State Basketball – Player Records & Honors" (PDF). Retrieved 2006-09-09. 
  3. ^ a b "Up Close and Personal: Tallest Beaver Ever". Retrieved 2006-09-09. 

External links[edit]