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Dave DeBusschere

Dave DeBusschere
File:Dave DeBusschere.jpeg
Personal information
Born (1940-10-16)October 16, 1940
Detroit, Michigan
Died May 14, 2003(2003-05-14) (aged 62)
New York City, New York
Nationality American
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Career information
High school Austin Catholic (Detroit, Michigan)
College Detroit (1959–1962)
NBA draft 1962 / Pick: Territorial
Selected by the Detroit Pistons
Pro career 1962–1974
Position Forward
Number 22
Career history
As player:
19621968 Detroit Pistons
19691974 New York Knicks
As coach:
19641967 Detroit Pistons
Career highlights and awards
Career statistics
Points 14,053 (16.1 ppg)
Rebounds 9,618 (11.0 rpg)
Assists 2,497 (2.9 apg)
Stats at
Basketball Hall of Fame as player

David Albert DeBusschere (October 16, 1940 – May 14, 2003) was an American professional National Basketball Association player and coach and Major League baseball player. In 1996, DeBusschere was named as one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history.

Early life

DeBusschere was born in Detroit, Michigan, the son of Leon (a native of Belgium) and Madeline Debusschere.[1] He attended Austin Catholic Preparatory School. There he inspired the "White Shirted Legion" (the tradition of wearing white shirts to the school's games to make fans more visible). As a junior, he was named all-state. In his senior year of 1957-58, in just the school's third year of organized basketball, he and led his team to the Michigan Class A high school basketball championship, scoring 32 points despite fouling out midway through the fourth quarter as the Friars defeated Benton Harbor High School and Debusschere's future NBA rival forward Chet Walker.[2]

College career

DeBusschere starred in both basketball and baseball at the University of Detroit. He averaged 24 points a game in basketball, helping Detroit reach the National Invitation Tournament twice and the NCAA basketball tournament once. He also pitched the Titans to three NCAA baseball tournament berths.[3]

NBA career

DeBusschere was drafted by the Detroit Pistons in 1962 as a territorial draft selection. During his rookie season, he averaged 12.7 points and 8.7 rebounds per game, and was later named to the NBA All-Rookie Team. However, DeBusschere was injured during his second season and only played in 15 games, resulting in the Pistons finishing with a disappointing record of 23-59.

In the 1964-1965 season, at the age of 24, he was given the position of player-coach for the Pistons, and thus became the youngest-ever coach in league history. However, this stint as coach was not successful and he became a full-time player. During the 1968-1969 season, DeBusschere was traded to the New York Knicks for Walt Bellamy and Howard Komives.

DeBusschere, along with future Hall of Famers Willis Reed, Bill Bradley and Walt Frazier, became an NBA champion when the Knicks defeated the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1970 NBA Finals. With Earl Monroe in the backcourt, they became champions again in 1973, beating the Lakers 4-1 in the finals.

DeBusschere was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1983 after a 12-year career (1962–1974) in which he averaged 16.1 points and 11 rebounds while being named to eight NBA All-Star teams. He became a member of the NBA 50th Anniversary All-Time Team in 1996. He was renowned for his physical style of play and tenacious defense, and he was named to the NBA All-Defensive first team six times.[4]

Life after basketball

DeBusschere retired in 1974. His #22 jersey was retired by the Knicks, though not until many years after his retirement; it is thought the delay was due to DeBusschere's taking a front-office job with the rival New York Nets (now Brooklyn Nets) of the then-American Basketball Association upon his retirement. He later became the ABA's commissioner, as well as the assistant coach and director of basketball operation of the Knicks during the 1980s, when DeBusschere drafted fellow Knicks legend Patrick Ewing.

DeBusschere was later the author of a book entitled The Open Man, a chronicle of the New York Knicks' 1969-1970 championship season.


Dave DeBusschere
Born: (1940-10-16)October 16, 1940
Died: May 14, 2003(2003-05-14) (aged 62)
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
April 22, 1962 for the Chicago White Sox
Last MLB appearance
September 2, 1963 for the Chicago White Sox
Career statistics
Win–loss record 3–4
Earned run average 2.90
Complete games 1

In 1962 DeBusschere was signed by the Chicago White Sox as an amateur free agent. He was a pitcher for the Chicago White Sox from 1962-63. He pitched a shutout on August 13, 1963, against the Cleveland Indians, giving up six hits, one walk and striking out three. In 22 career at bats, he had only one hit, a single off Bennie Daniels on July 17, 1963. He pitched in the White Sox minor league system for two more seasons before giving up pitching to focus on both playing and coaching basketball.[5]

He is one of only 12 athletes to have played in both Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association, or its predecessor the Basketball Association of America. The others are Mark Hendrickson, Danny Ainge, Gene Conley, Ron Reed, Dick Groat, Steve Hamilton, Cotton Nash, Frank Baumholtz, Dick Ricketts, Howie Schultz, and Chuck Connors.[6][7][8]


In May 2003, Dave DeBusschere collapsed on a Manhattan street from a heart attack and was pronounced dead at New York University Hospital. He was 62 years of age. DeBusschere is interred at Saint Joseph's Church Cemetery in Garden City, Nassau County, New York. DeBusschere, who lived in Garden City, was survived by his wife, Gerri (who died of cancer in 2009),[9] sons Peter and Dennis and daughter Michelle.[10]

In honor of Dave Debusschere, in 2003 the University of Detroit Mercy inaugurated the Dave DeBusschere Scholarship. It provides support to two student-athletes that must have a minimum grade point average of 3.0 and have demonstrated exceptional leadership skills.[11]

See also


External links

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