NBA legend Dolph Schayes dies at 87

Dolph Schayes of the Syracuse Nationals poses for a portrait circa 1961.

Story highlights

  • Dolph Schayes, one of the NBA's first superstars, is considered by many to be the best Jewish player in league history
  • He was enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1973

(CNN)Dolph Schayes, who was one of the NBA's first superstars and is considered by many to be the best Jewish player in league history, died Thursday after a long battle with cancer, according to NBA.com. He was 87.

"We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Dolph Schayes, a pioneer and iconic member of the Philadelphia 76ers organization and one of the greatest players ever to play the game of basketball," Philadelphia 76ers CEO Scott O'Neil said in a statement. "Dolph was an integral part of the foundation on which this franchise was built -- first in Syracuse and later in Philadelphia. He will be fondly remembered for the legacy he not only created on the court, but the way he represented the game off the court."
Schayes was enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1973 and is on the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History list that was announced in 1996.
    Born in New York City in 1928, Schayes played college ball at New York University. His draft rights were obtained by the Syracuse Nationals in 1948. In the NBA's first season in 1949-1950, Schayes led the Nationals to the first-ever NBA Finals, which was won by the Minneapolis Lakers in six games. Schayes played in the NBA's first All-Star game, which was on March 2, 1951.
    Schayes, one of the taller players in the league at 6-foot-8, was Syracuse's leading scorer in 13 years of the club's 17-year existence before the franchise became the Philadelphia 76ers.
    In his 16-year playing career, Schayes was named to the All-NBA First Team six times and was a 12-time NBA All-Star from 1951 to 1962. He also won the NBA championship with Syracuse in 1955. Schayes retired with 19,249 career points, which was the NBA record at the time.
    Schayes coached the 76ers for two seasons and won NBA Coach of the Year in the 1965-66 season with a 55-25 record. He coached the Buffalo Braves in 1970-71.
    Schayes' son, Danny, played in the NBA from 1981 to 1999 and was a star at Syracuse University.