The career of Maurice Stokes is unfortunately full of tragedy, one that started off with so much potential but wound up cut short far too soon.
Originally the number two overall pick by the Rochester Royals in the 1955 NBA Draft, Stokes started off his career in ways not many youngsters ever have.
During the first three seasons of his career, Stokes proved to be a phenomenal offensive force. He was a handful down low and could find the open man. He’d go on to average 16.4 points, 17.3 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game, terrific numbers and ones that had him on the path to all-time greatness.
Then came the day of March 12, 1958, where after a simple drive to the basket, the three-time All-Star was knocked unconscious after drawing contact and hitting his head on the hardwood floor. Following an illness about a few days later on a team flight, Stokes suffered a seizure that left him paralyzed for good, officially closing the book on what had been a terrific opening act by the man out of Saint Francis University.
How Maurice Stokes would’ve been remembered had he been able to see his career through is an interesting topic of discussion even for those unfamiliar with his work. It’s clear he had the ability to dominate the game with his own brand of all-around talent, but the basketball gods seemed to have other plans.
Stokes was still elected into the Hall of Fame as a member of the 2004 class, but even so, he still had many rocks left unturned. No matter how his career would’ve turned out, it’s safe to say he deserved a chance to flip them all.