Born Lloyd B. Free, 1953, in Brooklyn, NY . Became a prolific scorer in the NBA during the late 1970s and early 1980s.
As one of eleven children from Brownsville in Brooklyn, Free began developing his basketball game at an early age. He developed a number of awkward shots that were highly successful for him in his future playing days. However, his style of play would often cause him to be labeled selfish or "just another playground player."
Free led his high school team to an undefeated season before playing for Guilford College in North Carolina. He left school after his junior season and was drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers in the second round of the NBA draft in 1975.
The 76ers were already loaded with scorers at the time and so Free averaged only 8.3 points per game while getting limited playing time. Even in the limited minutes he had on the court, he began earning a reputation as a "me first" player due to his complete dedication to his own offense. He believed the primary purpose of basketball was to score and so his focus was directed there.
Free played in the NBA finals in his second season, which the 76ers lost to the Portland Trail Blazers. He scored 15.7 points per game his second season, but was traded to the San Diego Clippers for his third. There he began to unleash his scoring prowess. He averaged 28.8 points per game his first season in San Diego, good enough for second in the league, and led the league in attempted shots and free throws. In his second year he increased his scoring average to 30.2 points per game. After that season, he was traded to the Golden State Warriors following a muddled salary dispute.
It was while with Golden State that Lloyd B. Free decided to legally change his name to World B. Free. Some people at the time, and even years later, thought the name was some kind of political or social statement... as if this one man could just scream out "world be free!" and everything would change. However, that was not the intent of Mr. Free.
As early a junior high school, Lloyd had been called "All World" in deference to his abilities with a basketball. It became his nickname and was what he was most frequently called. He preferred it to Lloyd, although he never openly admitted the name Lloyd Free sounded too much like an elderly elevator operator from the 1920s. Thus begat his decision in the early 1980s to legalize it.
World B. Free played a season and a half with Golden State before another trade sent him to the Cleveland Cavaliers. There he played three seasons and averaged over 22 points per game during his tenure there. Free was out of the league after two more seasons spent back with Philadelphia and then a stint with the Houston Rockets. He then retired, intending to make money from his business interests, but made two attempts to come back and play in the United States Basketball League and the Continental Basketball Association.
World B. Free now devotes much of his time to speaking to kids, especially those in the inner city, and is said to still be operating video stores and liquor stores as his main source of income.