SLAM Online reached back into the archives this morning to highlight an old conversation they had with Cavaliers legend World B. Free a few years back. Below is some of that exchange, it’s pretty cool.
SLAM: Why did you change your name to World B. Free?
WBF: First of all, no one called me Lloyd from the day I was tagged “World” by this dude Herb Smith, who gave everyone in Brownsville names. It was due to my penchant for doing 360-degree slam dunks on people’s heads. In a game against a team from Bed-Stuy, I was on a fast break with a 6-8 guy in front of me. We both jumped, and I was fixing to do a freaky move on him, and I felt myself going, going, and I went all the way around him and dunked. Herb started screaming, “World! World! You are all world, Lloyd!” And that became my name, but when I changed it officially I was making a statement. I’m sort of a deep, political dude and I really did want the world to be free and for people to think about that every time they said my name.
* I always kinda wished I could get a nickname for “my penchant for doing 360-degree slam dunks on people’s heads”, but unfortunately I’ve never demonstrated that penchant.
More from Free…
SLAM: When you went from Philly to the Clippers, your scoring exploded from 15.7 to 28.8 per game. Did you prefer being a good player on a great team or a great player on a good team?
WBF: This League wanted me to be a good show, but they would not put me on a good team. Only the bad teams would touch me, and I helped them improve. The Clippers went from 27 to 43 wins. Golden State went from 24 to 39. I couldn’t do as much with Cleveland, but we improved and actually created some excitement. They went from getting 1,500 people to selling out. I became a household name in all these places, but only rebuilding teams would take a chance on me.
SLAM: Because you had a reputation as a gunner.
WBF: Exactly. My reputation was so bad. I was blackballed from the All-Star Game, which I only made once. On the Sixers, I was young and headstrong and ran my mouth, which I thought was the only way to get attention coming from tiny Guilford College and playing with superstars like George McGinnis and Doc. And on the Clips I shot so much because that’s what my coach wanted me to do. Same with Golden State. Al Attles said, “Put the damn ball in the basket.” When George Karl came to Cleveland he said he wanted to make me into an all-around player and I averaged over 20 while upping my assists and rebounds.
In 1953 World was born with the name Lloyd Bernard Free. So even though you might think he changed his entire name, ala Ron Artest, he really only changed Lloyd to World. B was always his middle initial, Free always his last name. He also had another nickname in addition to World, which was the Prince of Midair. Pretty solid handle too.
He played in the League from 1975-1988, playing for 5 different teams in those 13 NBA seasons. In addition to playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers from 1982-86, he also played for San Diego, Golden State, and Houston after breaking into the Association as a member of the Philadelphia 76ers. For his career Free averaged 20.3 points, 4 assists, and 3 rebounds per in a total of 886 games. He averaged over 22 points per game in each of his four seasons in Cleveland.
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