Hoops Hall of Famer Dave DeBusschere Dies

NEW YORK – NBA Hall of Famer Dave DeBusschere, a forward on two championship teams with the New York Knicks and also the youngest coach in league history, died Wednesday of a heart attack at 62.

The team, which announced his death, had no other details.

DeBusschere’s exploits in the world of sports also included a stint as commissioner of the ABA and parts of two seasons as a major league pitcher with the Chicago White Sox (news) in 1962-63.

But it was in basketball that DeBusschere excelled. He gave up baseball after two seasons and a 3-4 record in 36 games to concentrate on his NBA career.

By 1964, he was player-coach of the Detroit Pistons , becoming at age 24 the youngest to guide a team. He played six full seasons for the Pistons before being traded in 1968 to the Knicks.

In New York, the 6-foot-6 forward teamed with fellow Hall of Famers Walt Frazier, Willis Reed and Bill Bradley to win championships in 1970 and 1973.

DeBusschere was elected to the Hall in 1983 after playing 11 seasons in the NBA. In 1997, he was picked as one of the 50 greatest players in league history.

DeBusschere was picked for the NBA’s All-Defensive team six straight years from 1969-74. He retired after the 1973-74 season with a career average of 16.1 points, plus totals of 9,618 rebounds, and 2,497 assists.

He was the general manager of the ABA’s New York Nets in 1974, then became the final head of the American Basketball Association a year later and was instrumental in the 1976 merger of that league — famous for its red-white-and-blue basketballs — with the NBA.

DeBusschere went into private business in 1976, then returned to the NBA in May 1982, when he became general manager of the Knicks, a job he held until 1986. It was in that role that he won the first NBA draft lottery and picked Georgetown center Patrick Ewing as the No. 1 overall choice in June 1985.