Marlbert “Spider” Pradd – Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame
Marlbert “Spider” Pradd was a three-time NAIA All-American, the first All-American for Dillard. He finished his career as Dillard’s all-time leading scorer with 2,907 points for a 37.5 average. He led the nation (NAIA) in scoring in 1966 with a 39.1 points per game. He also averaged 42.0 points in 1967, 35.4 points in 1965 and 34.3 points in 1964. He established 22 records at Dillard, including the above marks for career scoring and single-season scoring as well as setting the school’s single-game scoring mark of 55 points and the school’s single-season free-throw percentage record (.920). He also drained a school-record 27 consecutive free throws.
Born November 17, 1944 in Chicago, Pradd grew up in the Windy City, honing his game while watching the greats when he had the opportunity. But he also developed his own style which, when combined with his long arms, led to his nickname.
“I was a clown,” he told Dillard University in 2003. “I was very acrobatic. I had a lot of elusive moves – just dancing across the court. I put all those styles together and I figured out my own style of how I wanted to play. I called it the “Spider.'”
After graduating from Chicago’s Carver High School, the 6-3, 170-pounder headed to New Orleans to play at Dillard for coach Bill Martin.
He also credited the fans for lifting him to new heights.
“The fans screaming and hollering at me from the stands made me do some unnatural things,” he said. “One time, we needed some points and they were just egging me on and on, and so I just went and took [the basketball] from somebody and jumped over three men and shot it. You know, the spirit just hit me. Afterward I said I would never do that again!”
After his collegiate career, Pradd was drafted by the NBA’s Chicago Bulls (sixth round) and the ABA’s Oakland Oaks. He played two season with the New Orleans Buccaneers of the ABA, but then was drafted by the United States to serve in the Vietnam War. After his military service, he returned to Dillard to complete his education.
“I realized I was a real student,” he said. “I didn’t have to worry about basketball. My focus was education and I got all A’s at that point.”
After graduation, he worked at a local hospital in mental illness as well as in drug prevention programs and physical education and rehabilitation.
In addition to being enshrined in the Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame, he was selected to the Louisiana Basketball Hall of Fame in 2003.
He passed away on April 27, 2014.