Oscar Schmidt: Basketball’s all-time leading scorer

Oscar Schmidt and Kobe Bryant
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Oscar Schmidt scoring stats and basketball career show nothing but legendary greatness and offensive brilliance. From Europe to the summer Olympic basketball games, he holds all the scoring records that exist today.

He was a 6’9 SF/SG that would set fire to basketball nets until he was 45 years old.

The All Time Leading Scorer

In the NBA, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has the most points all-time with 38,387 points. In basketball history Oscar Schmidt is the all-time leading scorer with 49,737 points.

When a young future legend of the game, Kobe Bryant was growing up in Italy, he wanted to be like Oscar Schmidt. Oscar was Kobe Bryant’s favorite player. Kobe has used parts of Oscar’s basketball career in his own game.

Kobe had his own nickname for Oscar too, “La Bomba”, which means the bomb in Italian.

Kobe Bryant and Oscar Schmidt.

The Olympics

If you Google all-time Olympic basketball scorer, the search results will show article after article stating that the top scorer is Kevin Durant. It will tell you he surpassed Carmelo Anthony to top this list. This is true but only when referring to United States olympic basketball players.

Kevin Durant has scored 435 Olympic points. The actual leading scorer in the Olympics is Oscar Schmidt. Oscar or “Mao Santa” (The Holy Hand) scored 1,093 points during his olympic career. This is the most points in olympic basketball competition. He also has the highest average for a single olympics in Seoul during the 1988 games and in those same Olympics he had the highest game total with 55 points, scored against Spain.

Oscar Schmidt Hall-of-Fame

Oscar Schmidt olympic basketball play vs Penny Hardaway

Here’s what Schmidt said about the 1984 Olympics and being one of the five Naismith Memorial Basketball hall-of-famers drafted in 1984. This was from Oscar Schmidt’s hall-of-fame speech.

“Why this guy never play in NBA. I will explain it to you. In 1984 the New Jersey nets drafted me in the 6th round, I was the 144th choice.”

“I go to the Olympic Games in Los angeles, I go there and I’ll show them what they’ll lose.”

“I Go there and I practice one week and I play 5 games, two of them against Charles Barkley.”

“He guarded me, he never fouled me on the court. I said, hey coach, thanks for drafting me, but i tell you, here is one point a minute. thats what I did, 25 minutes, 25 points a game”

Oscar Schmidt Hall-of-Fame speech 2013


In the 1984 Olympic basketball tournament, Oscar Schmidt averaged a point-a-minute but in the 1988 Olympics, he averaged more than that.

In his eight Olympic basketball games that he played in the Seoul games, he averaged 36.0 minutes-per-game and his scoring average was 42.2 points-per-game. He never really contended for a gold medal but without Oscar, Brazil wouldn’t even be competing in the summer games for basketball.

1984 NBA Draft

The Dream Team go to Oscar to shake his hand in 1992

There was a certain stigma about European players making it in the NBA. The stigma was they couldn’t make it. Not any of them. This followed along the lines of the absurd notion that black football players couldn’t play quarterback or middle linebacker in the NFL.

While we’re on the topic of the absurd, here’s one that you might think “Naw, he’s making this up.” Black players weren’t allowed to play in the NBA until 1950 and the reasoning that was given was that black athletes couldn’t jump well enough to play at the highest level. I swear this is a fact.

When Oscar got drafted in the 6th round he found the actuality absolutely ridiculous. Then after he told the Nets coach he was going to average a point-per-minute at the Olympics, he was offered a no cut contract, no one had ever been offered this before in the NBA. A contract that he turned down.

Brazilian National Team

Scottie Pippen and Oscar Schmidt battle for the basketball at the Olympics

Oscar Schmidt putting up NBA stats wasn’t his goal in Basketball. His pride was in playing for his national team. Any player at that time in 1984 who played in the NBA, couldn’t play for his national team anymore.

No one knew at the time, that because of an American defeat at the 1988 olympics, the NBA would allow its players to play in the 1992 olympics. Schmidt played basketball until 2003 but in 1992 he was 34-years-old.

He wasn’t in his early 20’s when he was drafted, he was 26-years-old. He led Brazil to the World Cup and multiple Olympics. Nothing was more important to him during his basketball career than international competition with his Brazilian national team and trying to advance as far as talent would allow.

Larry Bird

Larry Bird introduced Oscar Schmidt when he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall-of Fame in 2013. People called Schmidt the European Larry Bird. Personally when I watch him I see more of Bernard King, either way though, ya know.

Here’s what Larry Bird said about Oscar.

Oscar was one of the great scorers of our time. He was hard to stop. You Couldn’t guard him with one player, and the way he moved, I mean, he created any shot he wanted.

Larry Bird on Oscar Schmidt’s basketball career

Oscar Schmidt stats

Oscar Schmidt shooting for his Brazilian National Team

Some people say the Dream Team was formed because of Schmidt, he is definitely one of the reasons. Oscar Schmidt’s stats read

  • Most points all-time in basketball history
  • Most points all-time in olympic basketball history
  • Italian Cup Winner (1988)
  • Most points all-time in FIBA basketball history
  • 10x Italian League All-Star (1983-92)
  • 7x Italian League Top Scorer (1984-87, 1989, 1990, 1992)
  • 2x Italian league 2nd division Top Scorer (1991, 1993)
  • Spanish League Top Scorer (1994)
  • 2x Spanish League All-Star (1993, 1994)
  • 3x Brazilian Championship champion (1977, 1979, 1996)
  • South American Club Championship (1979)
  • 10x Brazilian Championship Top Scorer (1979, 1980, 1996-2003)

1987 Pan-Am Games

Oscar Schmidt stats

The highlight of Oscar Schmidt’s basketball career isn’t his overall stats but one game in 1987. The Final of the 1987 Pan American games held at the Market Square Arena in Indianapolis, Indiana.

The United States hadn’t lost in country since 1971 and at the half, Oscar Schmidt’s stats read only 11 points and Brazil was trailing by 20. In the 2nd half, “The Holy Hand” dropped in 35 of his game-high 46 points en route to a Brazilian comeback victory.

That American team had David Robinson, Pervis Ellison, Willie Anderson, and Danny Manning. It was a huge upset for Brazil and its 29-year-old superstar.

This set-up the 1988 Olympics where Oscar Schmidt’s scoring stats saw him average more than one point per minute. 36.0 minutes-per-game with a scoring average of 42.2 points-per-game.

This is still a single Olympics record as is his 55 points vs Spain that year. Luka Doncic just recorded the 2nd highest point total ever with 48 in a victory over Argentina in Tokyo. Oscar has said he would like to see Luka top his single game record. Maybe Luka can do it someday.

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