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NBA Pioneer Dolph Schayes Passes Away at Age 87

2015 has been a rough year for the NBA. The league has already lost greats like Moses Malone and now the game lost one of its pioneers. Adolph "Dolph" Schayes passed away on December 10th at 87 years old. With Schayes passing it leaves only Bobby Wanzer as the only remaining National Basketball League star still being alive.

Schayes was a star big man in his basketball career for the Syracuse Nationals, the precursor to the Philadelphia 76ers. Thought, unlike, other bigs of his era, Schayes possessed the ball handling skills of a guard. His ball handling and passing ability made him nearly unstoppable and ranks him second in the early NBA era of big men behind only George Mikan.

He was drafted by the Knicks of the BAA and by the Waterloo Hawks of the NBL, but the Hawks sold his rights to the Syracuse Nationals. The Nationals offered Schayes more money than the Knicks, so high signed there instead of joining the bigger market Knicks.

Schayes was always the exception to the rule in basketball. As a 16-year-old freshman he lead New York University to the NCAA final four, and in 1951 he broke his arm and played nearly the entire season in a cast, being one of the only NBA players to ever do so.

He was a 12 time All-star who played his entire career with the Nationals. He lead them to the 1955 NBA Championship. He retired in 1964 at age 35, having at the time one of the longest professional basketball careers in NBA history

The Schayes's had four children, including son Danny, who would be a first round pick of the Utah Jazz and play 17 years in the NBA. Following his NBA career Schayes went on the coach the Philadelphia 76ers, winning NBA coach of the year in 1966. Always being the exception, however, Schayes was fired at the end of the year. He would also coach the Buffalo Braves for a couple of seasons in the 1970s.