RECREATION & FITNESS

Marine Corps Sports Hall of Fame

Joseph "Joe" Fulks
Class of 2012

Joseph FulksJoseph "Joe" Fulks was born on October 26, 1921 in Birmingham, Kentucky... 1941... Signed by the Philadelphia Warriors in 1946... Earned 1st Team All-BAA honors, "Jumpin'" Joe Fulks led the Warriors to the 1947 finals against the Chicago Stags, defeating them 4-1 in the series…One of modern pro basketball's first scoring sensations and first of the high-scoring forwards... revolutionized shooting by first using a two-handed shot and then gradually switching to the one-handed method... 1949- set a new record by scoring 63 points in a single game which lasted for 10 years…shattered the record for most points in one half (33); field goals; and field goal attempts... one of the top five players in all major categories... In 1949, The Sporting News called Fulks "the greatest basketball player in the country."... a three-time All-BBA First Team selection, played in two All-Star games... 1970- named to the NBA's 25th Anniversary All-Star Team and named to the Pro Basketball Hall of Fame in 1978... inducted into the Murray State Athletics Hall of Fame in 1966 and the College Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006.

Joe Fulks was born on October 26, 1921 in Birmingham, Kentucky. A high school standout, Fulks led his Kuttawa High School basketball team to the Kentucky state finals in 1940 earning All-State honors.

In 1941, Fulks enrolled at Murray State University and lettered in basketball. Averaging over 13 points per game, Fulks earned All-American honors in 1943 when he led the Racers to the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Men's Division I Basketball Tournament Final Four. In a heartbreaking overtime loss to North Texas State University with a score of 59 to 55, the game marked the first time a NAIA Final Four game would enter overtime named in 1943.

At the conclusion of the 1943 season, Fulks enlisted in the Marine Corps and would begin his training at the Recruit Depot in San Diego. Designated as a mortar crewman, Fulks was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 9th Marines and set sail aboard the U.S.S. General M. L. Hersey towards the Mariana Islands.

Arriving on the island of Guam in January 1945, Fulks and his unit was assigned to combat the remaining Japanese forces on the island and remained there until September of that year. By May 1946, Fulks was promoted to corporal and was stationed at Camp Pendleton before he was honorably discharged.

Signed by the Philadelphia Warriors in 1946, the rookie from Murray State made an immediate impact leading the Basketball Association of America (BAA) in field goals made and attempted; free throws made and attempted points, and points per game. Earning 1st Team All-BAA honors, "Jumpin'" Joe Fulks led the Warriors to the 1947 finals against the Chicago Stags, defeating them 4-1 in the series.

One of modern pro basketball's first scoring sensations and first of the high-scoring forwards, The 6'5" Fulks was known both for his athletic drives to the basket as well as his shooting. He revolutionized shooting and scoring in professional basketball by first using a two-handed shot and then gradually switching to the one-handed method. On February 10, 1949 Fulks set a new record by scoring 63 points in a single game. That record would last for 10 years until Elgin Baylor scored 64 in 1959. Fulks' 63-point outburst came during a Warrior 108-87 victory over the Indianapolis Jets. In the game Fulks made 27 of 56 shots and nine of 14 free throws. Along the way he shattered the record for most points in one half (33); field goals; and field goal attempts.

Fulks was one of the top five players in all major categories until the emergence of Paul Arizin during the 1951-52 Season. Fulks, Arizin, and Andy Philip all served in the Marine Corps and were one of most prolific scoring trios in the newly restructured National Basketball Association (NBA). The Warriors placed first in the Eastern Division, but lost a close series to the Syracuse Nationals in the Division Semifinals.

In eight pro seasons, Fulks averaged 16.4 points per game, and in the pressure filled playoffs, increased it to 19 points per game. In 1949, The Sporting News called Fulks "the greatest basketball player in the country." Fulks was a three-time All-BBA First Team selection, played in two All-Star games. At the conclusion of the 1954 season, he retired from the game and returned to Kentucky where he lived the remainder of his life.

In 1970, Fulks was named to the NBA's 25th Anniversary All-Star Team and named to the Pro Basketball Hall of Fame in 1978. He was also inducted into the Murray State Athletics Hall of Fame in 1966 and the College Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006.

Working at the Kentucky State Penitentiary as the recreation director, Fulks was tragically shot to death at his home on March 21, 1976. Despite his athletic achievements, his tombstone reads, ""Joseph Franklin Fulks... Corporal, US Marine Corps."