Otis Lee Birdsong (born December 9, 1955 in Winter Haven, Florida) is an American former professional Basketball player. He spent twelve seasons (1977–1989) in the NBA and appeared in four NBAs.
A 6'3" guard who attended Winter Haven High School and the University of Houston, Birdsong was selected by the Kansas City Kings with the second pick of the 1977 NBA Draft. He would spend four seasons with the Kings, averaging a career high 24.6 points per game during the 1980-81 NBA season. He also played seven seasons with the New Jersey Nets and one with the Boston Celtics, and he ended his NBA career in 1989 with 12,544 career points.
When Birdsong was named a 1977 consensus All-American after leading the Houston Cougars to the finals of the National Invitational Tournament, it was the perfect ending to a historic career. As a college freshman, Birdsong finished third among the team’s scoring leaders with 14.3 points per game. The following year, Birdsong etched his name in the University of Houston’s record books by becoming the first sophomore in the school’s history to register 1,000 career points. When the Cougars began playing in the Southwest Conference, Birdsong soon established himself as the dominant scorer in the league’s history. In his first year as an SWC player, Birdsong led the league in scoring, finishing eighth nationally with a 26.1 average.
During his All-American season in 1976-77, Birdsong was named Southwest Conference Player of the Year, after leading the Cougars to a 29-8 record and in the NIT’S championship game against St. Bonaventure. Birdsong scored 38 points and made 18 free throws against the Bonnies. He ranked fourth nationally and set an SWC scoring record with 30.3 points per game. These accomplishments resulted in Birdsong being named SWC player of the Decade.
In addition to receiving All-American honors, Birdsong was named to the All-Southwest Conference team in 1976 and 1977. Additionally, he was named District VI Player of the Year (encompassing Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas) by the United States Basketball Writers Association. He was a member of the USBWA’s All-District VI Team in 1975, 1976 and 1977, and he was team captain both his junior and senior years. During his four seasons with the Cougars, the team complied 79-38 record. He left the University of Houston as the school’s second leading all-time scorer with 2,832 total college career points, which remains the 12 th best all-time NCAA record in Division 1 men’s basketball-just behind Larry Bird and ahead of familiar names like David Robinson, Lew Alcindor, Calvin Murphy and Elgin Baylor.
Also at Houston, Birdsong ranks second on the career charts in field goals, third in all-time steals, sixth in assists and ninth in field goal percentages. He continues to hold the school record for free throws with a total of 480. After completing his eligibility at the University of Houston, Birdsong was the second player chosen in the 1977 NBA draft when he was taken by the Kansas City Kings. He scored over 14,000 career points in 12 seasons with the Kings, the New Jersey Nets and the Boston Celtics. He was selected to be a member of the NBA All-Star team four times, averaging over 18 points per game. Birdsong returned to Houston following his career and served as a member of the Cougar’s radio broadcast team for several seasons before moving to Dallas.
In 2000, Birdsong was inducted in the University of Houston’s Hall of Honor as well as the Polk County, Florida Hall of Fame.
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