Dean Meminger (pictured defending), who won national titles at both the college and pro levels not far from his Harlem home by being “quicker than 11:15 Mass at a seaside resort” has been found dead in Harlem. That quickness shut down teams led by Dr. J, Pistol Pete and Lou Carnesecca en route to the NIT title and the Celtics in Game 7 of the 1973 Eastern Conference Championship en route to an NBA title. But the only battle he could not seem to win over the decades was against cocaine.
He was only the second player to be named All-City in New York three straight high school seasons, and he seemed to work tirelessly throughout his life to provide people with education and even jobs. And yet, he acknowledged from his NBA days an ongoing losing battle against cocaine, which led to a four-alarm fire in the Bronx in 2009 after which he was found by crack pipes. Police said the cause of death appeared to be an overdose, according to the Daily News.
The only person who convinced him to leave New York for any length of time was fellow New York native and late coach Al McGuire, who used to use the “quicker than 11:15 Mass at a seaside resort” line as well to tell a story about recruiting New York City. “I pulled up to a house and asked for the player, and the guys sitting on the steps said, ‘no one here by that name,'” an actor said in a McGuire re-enactment play. “Then I said, ‘I’m a coach,’ they said, ‘third floor.’ A white guy in a suit appearing out of nowhere in their neighborhood, I knew they thought I was a cop.”
In the Ultimate Hoops Guide: Marquette University, Meminger was ranked as the fifth best player in the history of Marquette, behind only Dwyane Wade, Bo Ellis, Butch Lee, and George Thompson. He kicked off a decade during which Marquette had the second best record in the country behind only UCLA, and the book includes a note on his team’s place in history:
“He was the top scorer on the last team to turn down an NCAA bid when No. 8 Marquette refused an out-of-region bid to go to the NIT where he beat Dr. J and Massachusetts, Pistol Pete and LSU and Lou Carnesecca and St. John’s on his last game in NY.”
Meminger had tremendous outreach to help people throughout his life despite a ongoing battle with cocaine that he acknowledged as far back as his NBA days. Click here for the Daily News’ great obituary, “Dean (The Dream) Meminger, star of ’73 Knicks, is dead at 65.”
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