Charlie Ward And His Fellow Heisman Hoopsters

The NBA and the Heisman don’t typically go together.

That is, unless, you are Charlie Ward, the only human ever to win a Heisman Trophy and play in the NBA.

And he didn’t just play in the NBA, Ward thrived in it. He played in the league for 11 years while making multiple playoff runs with New York, including starting for the Knicks in the 1998-99 finals.

At Florida State, Ward was the point guard on the Seminoles team that advanced to the 1993 Elite Eight. He still holds the FSU records for career steals (238) and is second in steals in a game (nine) and ranks sixth all-time in assists (396). He joined the basketball team just 15 days after winning the Heisman Trophy in December of 1993. He started 16 games at the point guard position that year and averaged 10.5 points and 4.9 assists for the season. He was selected in the first round (26th overall) of the 1994 NBA draft by the Knicks.

In addition to Ward, there is a long list of past Heisman winners who played at a high level in various sports.

Here’s a quick look at other Heisman winners who have excelled on the hardwood.

Nile Kinnick — The future Hawkeye led his football team to an undefeated season as a senior in high school, but he also scored 485 points for the basketball team, helping them advance to the district finals. At Iowa, he played football, basketball and baseball as a freshman and was the hoops team’s second-leading scorer as a sophomore. He then gave up basketball to concentrate on his studies…and football.

Tom Harmon — Harmon was an all-conference basketball player and three-year letterman at Horace Mann High in Gary, Ind. He also lettered in basketball at Michigan. He was inducted into the state of Indiana’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 1992.

Glenn Davis — Perhaps the finest all-around athlete ever to play at Army, Davis earned a letter in basketball as a guard for the Knights.

John Lujack — Lujack lettered in four sports at Notre Dame, including basketball.

Doak Walker — The legendary Walker also lettered in basketball for SMU.

Dick Kazmaier — According to Kazmaier, he had a better year freshman year in basketball at Princeton than he did in football. He was relegated to the bench in subsequent years, but he would not be stopped when he stepped on the gridiron.

Paul Hornung — Hornung averaged 6.1 points per game as a sophomore for the Irish basketball team, but he gave up the sport to concentrate on his school work.

Joe Bellino — Bellino was the star of Winchester High’s basketball team, which won the Massachusetts state title during his sophomore and junior seasons. The squad’s 55-game win streak was snapped during his senior year. He later lettered in basketball for the Midshipmen.

Ernie Davis — Davis played basketball as a freshman at Syracuse. He put up impressive numbers, with 10.2 points and 9.6 rebounds per game. He once pulled down 18 rebounds against Canisius.

Terry Baker — Baker is the answer to one of the great trivia questions in sports, as the Oregon State star remains the only player to win a Heisman and appear in an NCAA basketball Final Four. Baker averaged 13.4 points per game as a senior point guard and was named national Sportsman of the Year by Sports Illustrated.  He also led the Beavers to the Elite 8 as a junior.  Despite his football prowess, Baker always said that basketball was his true love.

Steve Spurrier — Spurrier was all-state in four sports, including basketball, coming out of Science Hill High in Johnston, Tenn.