“Since We Didn’t Have A Doctor, It Was A Tradition With The Boys” | NBA Trailblazer Spencer Haywood Confirms Self-Circumcision Story

Photo by Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images

The new HBO series “Winning Time” is currently shining a light on the Showtime Lakers era of Southern California’s purple and gold.

One of Los Angeles’ championship-winning players, Spencer Haywood, has been introduced to the show and opened old wounds, pun intended.

Haywood, famous for opening the door for high school players to go straight into the NBA, is a Hall of Famer is also known for his unassisted-by-a-physician circumcision as a youth.

A Legendary Cut

“It’s the truth,” Haywood told TMZ. “I’m fine with it because i’m fine with Wood Harris playing me and this role and he’s a good person and a good actor so I’m OK with it, and I did some bad s***.”

Acclaimed actor Wood Harris plays Haywood in the series.

In episode 5, Haywood enters the locker room and embraces his friend and captain of the team, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The other players watch in awe as Haywood seemingly is the only person to pierce Kareem’s stoic intellectualism.

However, the chatter in the locker room quickly turns to Haywood’s unique take on his circumcision process.

Dialogue Matters

“You know what they say about Wood, right?” actor DeVaughn Nixon ,who plays Norm Nixon, says.


“Word on the street is dude cut the skin off his own d**k,” the Norm Nixon character continues.

“I heard that, too — circumcised his own self with a rock and a razor,” a random Lakers player co-signed.

A Phenom Is Born

The former NBA great is a man of many legends and even has a rule named after him after changing the then collegiate regulations to enter the professional sports.

Haywood passed up his final two years of eligibility to sign with the ABA and the Denver Rockets. Before then, he spent a year at Trinidad State Junior College in Colorado and a year at the University of Detroit.

According to reports, Haywood was fed up with racial tension on the Detroit team and decided he was ready to turn pro.

The Spencer Haywood Rule

Formerly, the NBA rules precluded players from entering the draft until they were four years past their high school graduation.

According to NBA.com, “the league prohibited the drafting or signing of a player before his college class had graduated.”

The Seattle Supersonics signed Haywood before his collegiate class graduated in 1970, effectively breaking the rule and stoking the ire of the league and respective teams.

A New Precedent Is Born

However, Haywood and the Sonics took the league to court, where the “hardship case” was established, setting a precedent that he had a right to earn a living as the sole wage earner in his struggling family.

The Supreme Court decision forever altered professional basketball, laying the foundation for future high school-to-the-league players like Darryl Dawkins and much later Kobe Bryant and LeBron James to begin their superstar careers earlier.

Still, the circumcision story has aged just as well as a rule named after the former NBA player. However, his upbringing in Mississippi says a lot.

Country Folk

“In this small town in Silver City in Mississippi, it ain’t no silver, and it ain’t no city,” Haywood continued. “It’s population of like 370 people, and you had no doctors, you had no anything, so my mother was doing it from a biblical standpoint that you gotta be circumcised.

“So since we didn’t have a doctor, it was a tradition with the boys that we were circumcised. You had your linaments and all your oils. We did it to the hogs, so why not do it to the humans? It’s country, it’s country folk, you know.”

Thank you, Spencer Haywood. Now we do know.

Rhett Butler is a Boxing Writer Association of America Journalist, Play-By-Play Commentator, Combat Sports Insider, and Former Mixed Martial Arts and Boxing Promoter. The New York City native honed his skills at various news outlets including but not limited to: TIME Magazine, Money Magazine, CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports, and more. Rhett hosts the PRITTY Left Hook podcast, a polarizing combat sports insider's take featuring the world's biggest names.