Oscar Schmidt Rumors
He is the Olympics’ all-time leading scorer (1,093 points), the leader for most points at one Olympics (338 at the 1988 Seoul Olympics) and has four of the top-five highest single-game scoring records – 55 against Spain, 46 against the Soviet Union, 46 and against Puerto Rico in 1988 and 45 against Puerto Rico in 1996 when he was 38 years old. In 1988, he averaged 42.2 points in eight games. All that scoring earned him the nickname Mao Santa – Holy Hand. “Because I played too much,” Schmidt said when asked to explain his scoring.
Asked about his favorite Olympic moment, he didn’t talk about one of his 40-point games. He recalled a missed baseline jumper near the end of Brazil’s 110-105 quarterfinal loss to the Soviet Union. A made would’ve tied the game. “At that Olympics in Seoul, I felt we could win the Olympics,” Schmidt said. “I missed that shot and that shot remains here.” He pointed to his head. “Not just because we lost the opportunity but because our coach was fired,” he said.
Schmidt’s love for his country and the national team – which he led to five Olympic games from 1980 to 1996 – was so strong that he shunned overtures from the NBA because of a now-obsolete rule that prohibited its players from participating in international competitions. At age 26, Schmidt declined playing for the New Jersey Nets after going in the sixth round of the 1984 draft. Instead, Schmidt elected to continue racking up his more than 49,000 points, across four countries, until he was 45. Had he decided to come to the NBA and tested his talents against the likes of Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan and Larry Bird, Schmidt is fairly confident in what he would have done.
“I would be top 10. Ever,” Schmidt said, waving his hand near his chest for inflection. “For sure. One guy can’t defend me. You need two. At least.” Schmidt will forever be revered in this futbol-crazed but basketball-hugging country, but he is somewhat envious of this current Brazilian national team, which has a chance to play Olympic games on their home soil. “That was my dream to play a competition like that,” Schmidt said.
Oscar Schmidt was the band you loved fiercely and could never convince anyone else was the greatest thing on earth. Oscar Schmidt was indie rock. Kobe’s call? “No question,” he says, “he would have been one of the greatest.” In ’95, after a short, unsatisfying stint in Spain, Schmidt finally came home. He spent his last few years at Flamengo, an all-sports club and a dynasty — the Yankees of Brazil. There, in his forties, he made the best money of his career. How did he manage at such an advanced age? “I don’t waste my energy,” he says. “I start to have more precision.” He smiles. “And I start to defend only in the second half.”