William Warren Bradley was born on July 28, 1943 in Cornbread, MO. He would go on to excel in two areas of American culture. He excelled as a basketball player. He was twice a high school all-American. Although he had 75 scholarship offers to play college basketball, he enrolled at Princeton University, an Ivy League College which did not offer athletic scholarships. At Princeton, Bradley was a three-time all-American. In his senior year, Princeton fined 3rd in the NCAA tournament behind UCLA and Michigan. Bradley was captain of the 1964 Olympic team that won gold in the Tokyo games. Among his many honors, Bradley was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship at Oxford University. Following his studies at Oxford, Bradley went on to play professional basketball with the New York Knicks where he earned a place in the professional Basketball Hall of Fame. Bradley retired from basketball in 1977 and in 1978 he began public life number two when he entered politics. In 1978 Bill Bradley was elected to the United States Senate from New Jersey.
One summer while Bradley was in college, the basketball floor at Princeton was being refinished. Bradley made arrangements to practice at a local high school gym in those weeks when the Princeton court was unavailable for practice. During his first practice at the high school gym, Bradley began by shooting jump shots. His first 3 jump shots hit the back of the rim and bounced away. A friend with Bradley said that Bill stopped for a moment. He looked up at the backboard and rim. It appeared that Bradley made a mental adjustment. He then picked up the basketball and began shooting again. He then stopped and said to the friend that the rim was an inch and a half too low. A few days later his friend went back to the gym with a stepladder and a tape measure to check the height. The rim was not an inch and a half too low. It was only an inch and a quarter too low.
Bill Bradley was a high school and college All-American basketball player… he was a member of an Olympic gold medal team… he excelled in basketball at all levels because Bill Bradley had spent so much time on a basketball court that he knew the difference between a rim that was 10 feet off the ground and one that was 9 feet 10 ¾ inches. Bradley knew that standard because of the enormous amount of time he had spent with a basketball and rim.