Bob Rule: Sonic Boomer, 1970

[Bob Rule played in the NBA from 1967- 1975, breaking in with the expansion Seattle SuperSonics followed by shorter stints in Philadelphia, Cleveland, and Milwaukee. Though Rule, a.k.a., The Golden Rule, battled alcohol problems later in his career, particularly in Philly, he was a force during most of his just-over four seasons in Seattle. Here’s former Seattle coach Lenny Wilkens on The Golden Rule: 

“Bobby was on the verge of becoming a great center when he ripped up his Achille’s tendon. He had three great years for us, in that fourth season he played four games, and I thought this was it. Bob Rule was ready to become one of the premier big men in the league. He had a nice 15-foot jumper, he could really get up and down the floor, and he knew how to get rebounds. When he played a great center, such as Bill Russell or Wilt Chamberlain, you could put up 25 to 30 points next to Rule’s name, because he really turned on the jets for those guys. He was very popular on the team. He liked to party, but he was a warm guy and easy to coach. It’s just too bad he got hurt. [From Tark: College Basketball’s Winningest Coach, Jerry Tarkanian and Terry Pluto, 1988]

Today, there aren’t a lot of old articles to be found on Rule, who passed away approaching three years ago in his native Riverside, CA. But here’s a brief one from the magazine Fast Break, 1970 Basketball Annual. The article, which has no byline, gives a nice intro to The Golden Rule in Seattle: Do unto others what they would do unto Bob Rule—if they only had his soft touch from 15-feet out.]


Bob Rule is having an interesting existence as the big man in the lives of the Seattle SuperSonics. His development in two years has been monumental. 

Sure it has, when you consider he has had as little as 220 pounds spread on a 6-foot-9 frame to combat the brute giants of the pros at center. And when you consider also that he really isn’t all in one piece. 

Rule, an easy-going, graceful guy, was outscored by only Elvin Hayes, Earl Monroe, and Billy Cunningham last winter. He has survived an almost impossible two years of orientation in the league. 

Let’s see, Rule has had one of his hammertoes straightened. He has only nine more. He must wear a built-up left shoe to take pain out of a troublesome back. [Editor’s note: In junior college, Rule and his back were badly banged up in a terrible car wreck. The car in which he was traveling plunged 40-feet into a ravine, landing him in the hospital.]

He is now wearing eyeglasses to ease an eyestrain, and he tenderly protects bunions on both feet when he goes to the basketball court. And he can’t do very much about the fact his right leg is a few tiny millimeters longer than his left one. 

Certainly, he had these impediments while doing excellent things in junior college and then at Colorado State. But as a pro, he surpassed the 16-point average he attained as a collegian. If the Sonics ever can afford to put him into a corner, he should reach his peak quickly. As a center, he has had to battle the odds, especially on the boards. 

“I’ve also started taking more hook shots,” he said last winter while reaching his 24.0 scoring average. “My best shot is my jump shot. I relied on a jumper most of the time. But I learned against guys like Chamberlain and Thurmond and those big centers, I need the hook shot.”

Rule’s quick acceptance of the challenge and his ability to adjust quickly has made him a valuable chattel in Seattle, where once there was slight apprehension over even drafting him. He came under coach Al Bianchi’s lash, along with all other Sonics early last winter. Bianchi stormed after many losing games, “I’ll trade anyone.”

But Rule came on furiously by midseason. And he emerged from the winter much improved over his rookie season two years ago. In Sonic country, they believe they possess a potential superstar. After all, what puts a man in superstar category? A consistent display of outstanding talent night after night. 

“It takes a while to adjust to playing against people who were my heroes when I was in high school,” commented Rule. “But I finally began to feel at home.”

He had come a long way in a short time. At his rate of progress, Seattle could feel the boom pretty soon.

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