Adolph "Dolph" Schayes (born May 19, 1928) is a retired American professional basketball player and coach in the NBA. A top scorer and rebounder, he was a member of the 1955 NBA champion Syracuse Nationals and a 12-time All-Star.
Schayes played his entire Hall of Fame career with the Nationals and their successor, the Philadelphia 76ers, from 1948 to 1964. In his 16-year career, he led the team into the post-season 15 times.
Schayes was born in New York, New York, the son of Carl, a truck driver for Consolidated laundries, and his mother Tina, a housewife. Schayes was Jewish, and both his parents were Romanian Jewish immigrants. “Dolph” grew up on Davidson Avenue and 183rd Street, off Fordham.
He is the father of retired NBA center Danny Schayes, who played in the NBA for 18 seasons. He is the grandfather of Abi, Carla, and Rachel Goettsch, who won silver medals for the U.S. volleyball team at the 2001 Maccabiah Games, Mickey Ferri, who won a gold medal in the 4x100 relay at the 2005 Maccabiah Games. Schayes settled in Syracuse in 1948, and still makes his home there, where he is a real estate developer.
High school and college
He attended Creston Junior High School 79 and DeWitt Clinton High School (1945–48) in the Bronx, New York, where he played for the basketball team and led it to a borough championship. He played his college basketball at New York University 1944–48, where he earned an engineering degree and was an All-American and won the Haggerty Award in his final year. His NYU coach, Howard Cann, said of him: "He was in the gym practicing every spare minute. We had to chase him out."
Schayes was drafted by both the New York Knicks in the 1948 BAA Draft (1st round; 4th pick overall), and by the Tri-Cities Blackhawks in the NBL Draft. The Blackhawks traded his rights to the Nationals, who then offered him a contract worth $7,500 ($68,400 today), 50% more than the Knicks, influencing his decision of going to Syracuse.
Although tall for his era at 6' 8", Schayes was especially known for his deadly, high-arcing, outside set-shot. It arced so high that his teammates referred to it as "Sputnik". Defenders who attempted to deny him the outside shot were confronted by his powerful drive to the basket. These two offensive weapons served him well, even as the NBA was transitioning into a league of jump-shooters.
Early in Schayes' career, he broke his right arm and played almost an entire season in a cast. Oddly, this injury became a seminal point in Schayes' development: he learned to shoot with his off-hand, making him especially difficult to guard. He was one of the best—and the last—to use a two-handed set-shot with feet planted on the floor, before the game changed to one-handed jump shots.
In 1949 he was Rookie of the Year in the league. The following year he was 6th in the league in assists, with 259. He led the NBA in rebounding in 1950–51 (in which he also had 10 of the top 14 individual rebounding games), with 1,080 and a 16.4-per-game average. He was third in the league in rebounding in 1952-53, with 920. In 1954 his 12.3 rebounds per game were fourth-best in the NBA.
In 1955 he led his team to the NBA Championship. In 1956–57, he led the league in minutes-per-game (39.6) and free throws (625), while grabbing 1,008 rebounds (3rd in the league) and averaging 22.6 points per game (4th in the league), and in 1957, he set an NBA consecutive free throw record with 18. In 1957–58, he again led the league in minutes-per-game (40.5), and averaged a career-high 24.9 points per game, which was second in the league, while averaging 14.2 rebounds per game (fourth in the NBA).
Schayes led the NBA in free throw percentage three times: in 1958 (.904), 1960 (.892), and 1962 (.896). In 1959, he scored a career-high 50 points in a game against the Celtics. In the NBA, Schayes did not miss a single game from February 17, 1952, until December 26, 1961; a NBA-record streak of 706 games. In 1960–61, he again led the league in free throws (with 680). In 1961 he had become the first player in NBA history to 30,000 career total PRA (Points + Rebounds + Assists).
Schayes was a six-time All-NBA First-Team honoree, and was also selected to the All-NBA Second-Team six times. He came in second in MVP voting in 1958, and 5th in both 1986 and 1957.
Upon retirement in 1964, Schayes held the NBA records for career scoring (19,249 points), games played (1,059), minutes played, playoff games played, foul shots made, and personal fouls (3,667).
In 1970, he was elected to the NBA 25th Anniversary Team, as one of the top 12 players who had finished their career by that time.
In 1972, he was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. He is also a member of the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, the US National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, and the National Jewish American Sports Hall of Fame.
In 1996, Schayes was selected as one of the 50 Greatest NBA players of all-time.
NBA coach and referee supervisor
When the Nationals moved to Philadelphia in 1963, Schayes was named player-coach. He retired as a player after the season, but stayed on as coach for three more seasons. He was named NBA Coach of the Year in 1966. From 1966–70, he was the supervisor of NBA referees. He was named the first coach of the Buffalo Braves in 1970, but resigned one game into his second season.
Maccabiah Games coach
Schayes coached the US Maccabiah Games basketball team to a gold medal in the 1977 Maccabiah Games, beating a more experienced Israeli team in an upset win. He also coached the U.S. Masters basketball team at the 1993 Maccabiah Games.
Schayes also played an active role raising money for the Maccabiah Games.
Was born Adolf Schayes. He is in the Basketball Hall of Fame. During his career he was an NBA all-start 12 times and coached the Warriors.
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