Clair Bee

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Clair Francis Bee (March 2, 1896 in Grafton , West Virginia , † May 20, 1983 ) was an American basketball coach and one of the first great legends of college basketball.

His most important contribution to the development of basketball was the invention of 1-3-1 zone defense . This defense tactic is an integral part of every basketball textbook today. Bee was also instrumental in introducing the three-second rule and the shot clock .

His first coaching station was from 1928 to 1931 at Rider College in New Jersey . In those three years, his team won 53 of 60 games. The 1930s season team became the first college team to reach 1,000 points in one season.

From 1931 Bee trained the basketball team at Long Island University in New York and suddenly made a top team out of the troop. The team remained undefeated in the 1935/36 and 1938/39 seasons, and in 1939 and 1941 they won the National Invitation Tournament (NIT), which was more prestigious than the NCAA Division I Basketball Championship tournament until the 1970s . Between 1943 and 1945 he served in World War II , but then returned to the LIU as a trainer.

It was not until 1951 that he resigned from his post after some of his players were involved in a nationwide bribery scandal (so-called point shaving scandal ). His overall record as a coach up to then was 412 wins with only 86 defeats, the best record of a college coach to date.

Between 1952 and 1955 he tried as an NBA coach with the Baltimore Bullets . After a sobering record of 33 to 115, he finally resigned from the coaching business in 1955. Bee is the author of numerous books on basketball technology, as well as books for young people ( Chip Hilton ).

On April 16, 1968, Bee was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame , and since 1997 a Clair Bee Award has been given to the best college coach of the year.


  • John M. Carroll: Clair Francis Bee. In: ANB. 2, 458-459.

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