Dave DeBusschere
Dave DeBusschere.jpeg
DeBusschere circa 1974
Personal information
Born(1940-10-16)October 16, 1940
Detroit, Michigan, US
DiedMay 14, 2003(2003-05-14) (aged 62)
New York City, US
Listed height6 ft 6 in (1.98 m)
Listed weight220 lb (100 kg)
Career information
High schoolAustin Catholic Preparatory School
(Detroit, Michigan)
CollegeDetroit Mercy (1959–1962)
NBA draft1962 / Pick: Territorial
Selected by the Detroit Pistons
Playing career1962–1974
PositionPower forward / Small forward
Career history
As player:
19621968Detroit Pistons
19681974New York Knicks
As coach:
19641967Detroit Pistons
Career highlights and awards
Career NBA statistics
Points14,053 (16.1 ppg)
Rebounds9,618 (11.0 rpg)
Assists2,497 (2.9 apg)
Stats Edit this at Wikidata at NBA.com
Stats Edit this at Wikidata at Basketball-Reference.com
Basketball Hall of Fame as player
College Basketball Hall of Fame
Inducted in 2006
Baseball career
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
MLB statistics
Win–loss record3–4
Earned run average2.90
Complete games1

David Albert DeBusschere (October 16, 1940 – May 14, 2003) was an American professional National Basketball Association (NBA) player and coach and Major League Baseball (MLB) player. He played for the Chicago White Sox of MLB in 1962 and 1963 and in the NBA for the Detroit Pistons from 1962 through 1968 and for the New York Knicks from 1968 to 1974. He was also the head coach for the Pistons from 1964 through 1967.

DeBusschere was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1983. In 1996, DeBusschere was named as one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history.[1] In October 2021, DeBusschere was again honored as one of the league's greatest players of all time by being named to the NBA 75th Anniversary Team.[2]

Early life

DeBusschere was born in Detroit to parents Peter Marcell and Dorothy DeBusschere.[3] He attended Austin Catholic Preparatory School and 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, and in his senior year of 1957–58, in just the school's third year of organized basketball, he 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.[4]

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.[5]

Baseball career

In 1962, DeBusschere was signed by the Chicago White Sox as an amateur free agent. He was a pitcher for the White Sox from 1962 to 1963. 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's minor league system for two more seasons before giving up pitching to focus on both playing and coaching basketball.[6]

He is one of only 13 athletes to have played in both the National Basketball Association and Major League Baseball. The 13 are: Danny Ainge, Frank Baumholtz, Hank Biasatti, Gene Conley, Chuck Connors, DeBusschere, Dick Groat, Steve Hamilton, Mark Hendrickson, Cotton Nash, Ron Reed, Dick Ricketts and Howie Schultz.[7][8][9][10]

Basketball career

Detroit Pistons

DeBusschere was selected by the Detroit Pistons in 1962 NBA draft 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.

While a member of the Pistons, DeBusschere appeared as himself on the April 29, 1963 episode of the game show To Tell the Truth. He received two votes.[11]

New York Knicks

DeBusschere was named to the First Team All-Defensive Team every season of his career after the inception of the designation.
DeBusschere was named to the First Team All-Defensive Team every season of his career after the inception of the designation.

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.[12]

Life after basketball

DeBusschere retired as a player in 1974, and his no. 22 jersey was retired by the Knicks, though not until many years later; it is thought the delay was due to his taking a front office job with the rival New York Nets of the American Basketball Association upon his retirement. The next year DeBusschere became the ABA's commissioner for the 1975–76 season, which would be the last for the league. He helped bring about the merger between the NBA and the ABA that year.[13] He was later the assistant coach and director of basketball operations of the Knicks during the 1980s, when he drafted fellow Knicks legend Patrick Ewing with the first overall selection in 1985.

DeBusschere and some partners purchased Ring magazine in 1979.[14]

DeBusschere authored a book entitled The Open Man, a chronicle of the New York Knicks' 1969–70 championship season.


In May 2003, DeBusschere collapsed on a Manhattan street from a heart attack and was pronounced dead at New York University Hospital. DeBusschere was interred at Saint Joseph's Church Cemetery in Garden City, New York. DeBusschere, who lived in Garden City, was survived by his wife, Gerri (who died of cancer in 2009),[15] sons Peter and Dennis, and daughter Michelle.[5]

In his honor, the University of Detroit Mercy inaugurated the Dave DeBusschere Scholarship in 2003. It provides support to two student-athletes that must have a minimum grade point average of 3.0 and have demonstrated exceptional leadership skills.[15]

NBA career statistics

  GP Games played   GS  Games started  MPG  Minutes per game
 FG%  Field goal percentage  3P%  3-point field goal percentage  FT%  Free throw percentage
 RPG  Rebounds per game  APG  Assists per game  SPG  Steals per game
 BPG  Blocks per game  PPG  Points per game  Bold  Career high
 †  Won an NBA championship

Regular season

1962–63 Detroit 80 29.4 .430 .718 8.7 2.6 12.7
1963–64 Detroit 15 20.3 .391 .581 7.0 1.5 8.6
1964–65 Detroit 79 35.1 .425 .700 11.1 3.2 16.7
1965–66 Detroit 79 34.1 .408 .659 11.6 2.6 16.4
1966–67 Detroit 78 37.1 .415 .705 11.8 2.8 18.2
1967–68 Detroit 80 39.1 .442 .664 13.5 2.3 17.9
1968–69 Detroit 29 37.7 .447 .723 12.2 2.2 16.3
1968–69 New York 47 39.4 .442 .682 11.4 2.7 16.4
1969–70dagger New York 79 33.3 .451 .688 10.0 2.5 14.6
1970–71 New York 81 35.7 .421 .696 11.1 2.7 15.6
1971–72 New York 80 38.4 .427 .728 11.3 3.6 15.4
1972–73dagger New York 77 36.7 .435 .746 10.2 3.4 16.3
1973–74 New York 71 38.0 .461 .756 10.7 3.6 .9 .5 18.1
Career 875 35.7 .432 .699 11.0 2.9 .9 .5 16.1
All-Star 8 1 20.9 .457 .750 6.4 1.4 .1 .0 9.6


1963 Detroit 4 39.8 .424 .682 15.8 1.5 20.0
1968 Detroit 6 43.8 .425 .578 16.2 2.2 19.3
1969 New York 10 41.9 .351 .820 14.8 3.3 16.3
1970dagger New York 19 36.9 .421 .662 11.6 2.4 16.1
1971 New York 12 40.7 .416 .659 13.0 1.8 16.4
1972 New York 16 38.5 .450 .750 12.1 2.3 16.6
1973dagger New York 17 37.1 .442 .775 10.5 3.4 15.6
1974 New York 12 33.7 .380 .621 8.3 3.2 .6 .3 12.0
Career 96 38.4 .416 .698 12.0 2.6 .6 .3 16.0

See also


  1. ^ https://www.nba.com/history/nba-at-50/top-50-players
  2. ^ "NBA 75th Anniversary Team announced". NBA.com.
  3. ^ "Archived copy". FamilySearch. Archived from the original on October 29, 2014. Retrieved October 29, 2014.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ "Data" (PDF). Retrieved April 18, 2018.
  5. ^ a b Goldstein, Richard (May 15, 2003). "Dave DeBusschere, 62, Relentless Forward On Knicks' Championship Teams, Is Dead". The New York Times.
  6. ^ "Dave DeBusschere". August 6, 2007.
  7. ^ "Baseball (MLB) and Basketball (NBA) Players | Baseball Almanac".
  8. ^ "Sports Hot Line". The Beaver County Times. November 1, 1981. Retrieved April 16, 2010.
  9. ^ "Hendrickson Becomes Latest to Play In Both NBA and Major League Baseball". WSU Cougars. CBS Interactive. August 9, 2002. Archived from the original on July 18, 2011. Retrieved April 16, 2010.
  10. ^ Crowe, Jerry (August 13, 2002). "The Inside Track; Morning Briefing; New Coach Pulls the Strings in Washington". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 16, 2010.
  11. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: CBS Television. "To Tell the Truth". You Tube. Retrieved August 10, 2019.
  12. ^ "Dave DeBusschere Stats - Basketball-Reference.com". Basketball-Reference.com.
  13. ^ Grasso, John (2011). Historical Dictionary of Basketball. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield. p. 110. ISBN 9781442255333.
  14. ^ "The Ring Timeline". The Ring. November 12, 2008. Retrieved April 10, 2016.
  15. ^ a b "Titans Mourn Passing Of Gerri DeBusschere". DetroitTitans.com.