Following through his famous hook shot on the opposite page, Neil Johnston completes one of the most difficult maneuvers in basketball. He starts with his back to the basket, goes through a rhythmic series of feints to confound his guard and, just as the hoop comes in view in a corner of one eye, he releases the ball. Rhythm, instinct and flash perception make it a deadly shot for Johnston; three times it has won for him the scoring leadership in pro ball, tying George Mikan's alltime record.
One shot, however, doesn't make a pro. Johnston is also a strong threat with the one-hander (see page 20), has led the Warriors in rebounding for five straight seasons (see cover) and is a tenacious ball-hawk (see pages 18-19)—a combination of skills that spells the difference between a truly great pro star and just another useful player. All together, that does make a pro, and has earned for Johnston selection on the East All-Star team six times.
Johnston had hoped to come to Philadelphia in a baseball uniform, spent four years in the Phillies' farm system trying to develop a curve to go with his fast ball. When a sore arm killed that, he asked for a tryout with the Warriors and has been a scoring mainstay ever since. Throughout his career, he has played as much of the 48 minutes of regular games as any pro simply because Philadelphia has had no one near his ability to substitute for him. Oddly enough, Johnston's chances of breaking Mikan's record will decrease as the Warriors become a better-balanced team. A weak team plays to its few offensive threats; a strong team plays to the man in the best position to score.
Eluding New York defenseman Charlie Tyra, Johnston hooks for two points from edge of circle
Lunging for loose ball rangy Johnston battles for possession with New York's Carl Braun.
Soaring one-handed push shot is launched by Johnston as Ray Felix stretches in vain