Joe Caldwell’s story is fascinating on many levels; he had an excellent college career being named as All-American, held the most ASU wins record 26-3, invited to play on the 1964 Olympic team that won the gold medal, an accomplishment he treasures above all his basketball accomplishments. During his eleven-year pro career, Pogo Joe was a star in both the NBA/ABA, an All-Star several times; and signed the most expensive pension clause in history, which ultimately caused his downfall. Forty-Four years later, Pogo Joe continues his fight for justice and is still engaged in various legal battles with the ABA and the NBA, IRS, and illegal forced Bankruptcy courts, his Pension/Insurance issues to this day. Pogo Joe has won some battles and landmark decisions–unlike many players who jumped leagues, he did not have to sit out a season–and lost other major battles, which have affected every aspect of his professional and personal life. Joe Caldwell’s entire story is written in his autobiography, entitled “Banned from Basketball: The strange trip of Pogo Joe.” It was documented in 2012 by the ThunderBall Films/CashWorks HD Productions short film entitled “Pogo Joe: Fighting the Game,” which Is now being developed for a feature length version.
“Caldwell’s contract is valid and irrevocable. A court order can’t be revoked.” Prentiss Yancey Former ABAP attorney (April 2002, Atlanta)
“Joe Caldwell has been blackballed. I feel he’s been wronged.” Julius Erving Hall of Famer (TNT, May 2, 2002).
“Foul!” Jo Jo White Hall of Famer
“Joe paid-the price.” Mel Davis Executive Director NBA Retired Players Assn.
“WHAT THEY SAID…” Lou Hudson Ex-Atlanta teammate
“He had one of the all-time great bodies in pro-basketball, a lethal combination of power and speed.”Al Attles
“Nobody could outrun or out jump Joe. He is the original Pogo.” Archie Clark
“When Joe guarded me, he gave me fits. Toughest defender I ever faced. He was 6-5 and could jump out of the gym.” Dave Bing
“I would have loved to have been more exciting as a player, to have been someone like Joe Caldwell.” Jerry West
“Joe was the most exciting player I’ve ever played with and coached. Him leaving our team for the ABA was really the demise of our team in Atlanta, not Pete Maravich.” Richie Guerin
“He probably jumped higher than anyone I ever remember shooting a jump shot. He was unbelievably successful because of his athleticism. He was an incredible athlete, ahead of his time.” Rick Barry
“Joe was one of the two best defenders I ever played against.” Walt Frazier
“Without him, we had no chance of winning. Joe Caldwell and Pete Maravich were the only two players I’d pay to see play.” Gene Tormohlen
“Very athletic, very fast, very tough defensively. He was strong, could play forward or guard and had tremendous jumping ability.” Red Holzman
“I didn’t know how he was, but Carl Scheer said we have to have a guy like him.” Tedd Munchak
“Joe Caldwell should be in the Hall of Fame. One of the greatest players who ever lived.” Marty Blake – NBA scouting director