A few decades ago, Bruce Jenner, now known as Caitlyn, attempted to become a sensation in the NBA. That’s right, Track & Field star Jenner made it into the National Basketball Association after being labeled the “World’s Greatest Athlete” by some people. This was right after he had picked up numerous world records along with a gold medal at the 1976 Olympics. That was when the NBA started calling.
When Was Bruce Jenner Drafted? Jenner was officially drafted to the Kansas City Kings with the 139th overall pick in the seventh round of the 1977 NBA Draft. The Kansas City Kings are also now known as the Sacramento Kings. Jenner was presented with a jersey that had the number 8,618 on it, his decathlon score. Jenner was 27 years old when he was selected in the NBA Draft.
Now that you know Jenner was officially drafted into the NBA, are you curious if he ever suited up for the Kings? Or was it all just for publicity?
Kings Badly Needed a Boost
Over the years of watching the NBA, you can definitely tell when a team is in dire need of some momentum. This doesn’t always come from just winning, it could come from a variety of different sources. Ultimately, you have to get the fans excited about the future and really draw in some new people to support your team. The Kings were really bad in the 1970s. They were known around the NBA as consistent losers and it really just wasn’t getting any better. The Kings moved from Cincinnati to Kansas City in 1972 but there wasn’t any boost in sight for them. Right before this draft had begun, there were rumors floating around that the team was thinking about moving once again. This time, they would be heading over to Salt Lake City or San Diego, whichever one would be better. This was when the idea of drafting Jenner came around. Management understood that Jenner would be an icon on the team no matter how long he stuck around the organization. The amount of people that had just seen Jenner dominate the Olympics must have been keeping an eye on what he was up to afterwards. Kansas City may not have been very good at the time, but they were 100 percent correct. Jenner boosted their popularity quite a lot shortly after the draft finished up. It was pretty clear why so many people were interested in the team.
Did Jenner Ever Actually Play?
Unfortunately, no. Jenner never ended up suiting up for the Kings after getting drafted. Matter of fact, the fans knew straight away that the pick wasn’t really serious. It was just a really fun way of bringing some life back into a team that so desperately needed it at the time. When Jenner was drafted, fans quickly realized what was going on because of a few differences. For one, Jenner would have to leave the Olympics and such after setting numerous world records and being thought of as one of the best athletes ever. On top of that, the salary difference was just incredible. Lastly, Jenner wouldn’t even be joining a top team in the league. He would have been joining a bottom of the barrel, struggling franchise after trading all of that other stuff away. It just didn’t make sense in the long run. That didn’t mean there wasn’t a ton of publicity anyways. The team got Wheaties to sponsor a few events after they selected him because Jenner was placed on the box. They also handed out special mini boxes at a game that they called, Bruce Jenner night. From a few reports, it was said that Wheaties decided to send over approximately 10,000 boxes to the Kings front office. If they didn’t get around to handing all of them out at the game, I think it’s safe to say that they would have had more than enough Wheaties to keep them fed for weeks. Jenner chose to attend the game on Bruce Jenner night but ultimately didn’t suit up. He did stick around and sign a lot of autographs through. Like a lot. He hung out with the staff and just gave the players something to play for that night. All in all, the entire event and situation brought life into the Kings. It was a fun couple of days together but sadly there wasn’t any basketball included in this selection.
Could Jenner Have Played in The NBA?
Chances are, yes. Now, it wouldn’t have really been a walk in the park for Jenner in any way. He would have had to drastically change his lifestyle and training regiments at the time to really even get into basketball shape for the league. Although, his size and athleticism could have given him a genuine shot at playing good ball and making the official roster. At the time, he was six-foot, one inch and everybody realized that he had some of the greatest athleticism that they had ever seen at the time from just one person. After all, there was a reason why Jenner had broken numerous records in the Olympics and the decathlon. The real issue would obviously be basketball skill. Nobody really knows to this day if Jenner was able to dribble or shoot the basketball well. I don’t know about you, but I would say those are two very important skills to have when trying to make an official NBA roster. The fact that he was playing football at a high-level way before the Olympics took place is also another reason why could likely participate in the NBA to some degree. It is unfortunate that we will never be able to see it all play out but it certainly would have made for an incredible story. How many times can an NBA team boast about how they drafted an Olympian and had him carry them to victory shortly after. The community would have lost their minds at the time.