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NBA 75 Series: #51 Dolph Schayes

Updated: Feb 27, 2022

Ranked #51 in my 75 Greatest NBA Players of All Time is Dolph Schayes. Schayes was born on May 19, 1928, in New York City and passed away on December 10, 2015. His mother, Tina, was a homemaker, and his father Carl Schayes was a truck driver for Consolidated Laundries. Schayes attended Creston Junior High School 79 and DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx, New York, where he helped lead the basketball team to a borough championship.

He attended New York University (NYU) at a younger age than most college students, 16, and in 1945, as a freshman, he helped NYU reach the NCAA final, while also becoming an All-American. He also won the Haggerty Award, which is given to the Division I men’s college basketball player of the year.

Schayes would be drafted fourth overall by the New York Knicks of the 1948 BAA Draft and by the Tri-City Blackhawks of the NBL Draft. The Blackhawks traded his rights to the Syracuse Nationals, who would offer him a contract of a mere $7,500 ($80,000 today), which was more than what the Knicks would give him, which persuaded him to join the Nationals.

He would play his rookie season in the NBL and be named the NBL Rookie of the Year. He would then join the NBA in 1949 with the Nationals as the BAA and the NBL merged. Schayes broke his arm early in his career, which taught him how to shoot with his off-hand and made him more of a nightmare to guard for his opponents at his 6-foot-8 size. In 1949-50 he was sixth in the league in assists (259) and led the NBA in rebounding in 1950-51 (16.4) which accumulated to 1,080 rebounds!

Overall, Schayes was one of pro basketball’s earliest superstars. He helped to revolutionize the game for the power forward position with his high-arching jump shot and constant movement off the ball, becoming the first player to score 15,000 career points in NBA History, while also being one of its greatest rebounders. His career stretched from the NBA’s inaugural year to basketball’s emergence as a major sporting attraction.

He helped lead the Syracuse Nationals to the playoffs on 15 occasions, winning his lone title in 1955 over the Fort Wayne Pistons as the best player. Schayes led the NBA in free-throw percentage three times and averaged a double-double for 11 consecutive seasons. Schayes retired with 19,249 career points, playing in what was then an NBA-record 1,059 games. He made the All-NBA First Team six times and the All-NBA Second Team six times. He would also lead the league in rebounding (1951) and became a member of the NBA’s 25th, 50th, and 75th anniversary teams.

One of the early pioneer stars of the game, Schayes was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1972.


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