Sunday, August 28, 2011

Washington Generals Top Players: Bill Campion

The time most Washington Generals players spend on the team is usually only a year or two. It's not surprising, as the life of a Washington General means spending most of your time on the road playing over 200 games a year, sometimes twice a night.

While I am sure the memories they make traveling all over the world are something no one can ever take away from them. That kind of schedule, especially playing a physically demanding sport can wear on even a young kid's body. 

It probably doesn't help that unlike their counterparts in the Globetrotters, the Washington Generals get no glory, very little cheers and do it all for what one can only assume is less money. (I say assume because I have no idea how much a Washington General makes.)

With those factors, it is no wonder that most Washington Generals play for a year or three, make some memories that will last a lifetime, then move on to start the next chapter in their life. Whether it is on the hardwood or elsewhere. 

But some Washington Generals take to the life of being the Globetrotters foils and make a career out of it. Bill Campion is one such player. 

Born in 1952 in the Bronx, Campion first started playing basketball in elementary school playing in Catholic Youth Organisation Leagues. 

But his real career began when he played for Rice High School in the Bronx. During his high-school career Campion received national recognition when he was named All-American. 

He then received the most recognition of his basketball career during his 2 1/2 seasons playing for Manhattan College. During that time he set the school rebounding records for a game with with 30 rebounds, a season with 419 rebounds, and a career with 1,070. All of these records are still standing to this day. 

After his junior season he was given the Haggerty award for the most valuable college player in New York. Campion also received the most valuable player award in the Holiday festival.

After finishing his college career Campion was selected in the fourth round of the 1975 NBA draft by the Milwaukee bucks, he was also chosen that year by the ABA's Virginia Squires.

Unfortunately he didn't end up playing for either team and after graduation Bill signed to play with the Mobilgirgi Varese in Italy. During his rookie season with the Varese, Campion's team won the Euroleage championship. Campion himself scored seven points, five rebounds and two assist. 

After his time with the Varese ended, Campion signed with the Washington Generals getting a spot on the team in the 1977 season. It was a spot he went onto hold for 8 seasons.

I actually remember as a kid watching Bill Campion play. Being on the team so long, he eventually became one of Meadowlark Lemon and later Twiggy Sanders favorite foils. And getting such an integral part while playing year after year, he was the first player on the team that really stuck with me as I would recognise him from previous seasons. 

As such, Campion holds a special place in my heart as a Generals fan. I still remember him taking down Twiggy in a game during the long running riff of having a General knock down the teams showman for comic effect. 

The wear and tear of playing basketball eventually wore on Campion's body and in 1984 he ended his long career with the Washington Generals. Since leaving the team, he has undergone extensive surgery on his knees and ankles. Battle scars for his years against the trotters. 

After leaving the team, Bill began working as a corrections officer. He has since retired after 21 years of employment in the federal system.

Campion's professional career may not have had the attention and recognition of his illustrious college career. But he made the most of it, spending eight years bringing the joy of basketball, comedy and good times to children and families all over the world. 

I hope for Bill Campion, just maybe it was worth the wear and tear he acquired along the way.

Bill Campion, Washington General

The Draft Review: Bill Campion


  1. Hello Bill, stan Klos here, we spent the summer at camp st. Regis and battling in basketball me at St Peters and you at Manhattan. Glad to learn you are retired and did well

  2. Bill Campion it is Don the "super-ball boy" from Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto (12 consecutive years). Hoping you are well!

  3. This is a great article, I have been always to read something with specific tips! I will have to work on the time for scheduling my learning.
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  4. Hello Bill. This is Lofton Johnson. I was a bench warmer on 1970-1971 Rice HS Basketball team on which you were a teammate. As a player who got very little time on the court, I was still very proud to be a part of Rice HS basketball and the experience was indeed a most joyous experience for me. I remember, in particular, a game against Fordham Prep. We had a big lead by mid 4th quarter, so coach Burrell gave me some playing time. I will never forget how uplifting it was for this nervous bench-warmer to see lead the cheers for me to do well. I happened to have the best game of my three years playing at Rice. I scored 12 points and following each basket, I would look over at our bench and see you jumping up and down, leading the cheers as I ran down the court. It meant so much to me to see my All-America teammate so enthusiastically cheering me on. I so much respected how you were always supportive of all your teammates at Rice and you were such an unassuming guy considering your elite status. I just wanted to tell you that I will always cherish my experience at Rice HS and you were a major reason why. May The Almighty continue to bless you and your loved ones. Remember: Juan Maldanodo and Felix Pagan and Anthony Jenkins and Raphael Negron and Ivy Mallory? Lofton