Joe Louis Caldwell (born November 1, 1941) is a retired American professional basketball player. Born in Texas City, Texas, he spent 6 seasons (1964–1970) in the NBA and 5 seasons (1970–1975) in the now-defunct ABA, and was one of the few players to be an All-Star in both leagues. He was also a member of the United States Olympic basketball team that won the gold at the 1964 Summer Olympics.
Nicknamed "Pogo Joe" or "Jumping Joe" for his leaping abilities, Caldwell was a 6'5" guard/forward from Arizona State University. Though drafted by the Detroit Pistons in 1964, he spent the majority of his NBA career with the St. Louis/Atlanta Hawks franchise. After averaging 21.1 points per game during the 1969-70 NBA season, Caldwell jumped to the rival ABA, playing for the Carolina Cougars from 1970 to 1974. More than just a high-flying scorer, Caldwell was also a tenacious defender, and basketball legend Julius Erving once said that Caldwell guarded him better than any player in the ABA.
During the 1974-75 season, St. Louis management blamed Caldwell for influencing team star Marvin Barnes to briefly leave the team. Caldwell denied doing this but he was suspended for "activities detrimental to the best interests of professional basketball." Caldwell never played another pro basketball game and has filed various lawsuits because he believes that he was wrongly blacklisted by the ABA and later the NBA. He scored 12,619 combined NBA/ABA career points.
On November 20, 2010, ASU retired his collegiate number 32 before a game against the UAB Blazers.
- ^ "Sun Devils to Honor Joe Caldwell's No. 32 at Home Opener on Nov. 20 vs. UAB". Arizona State Sun Devils. 2010-11-10. Retrieved 2010-11-21.
By Dean Hanley
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