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Marshall legend Hal Greer dies

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Hal Greer, Marshall University Basketball and National Basketball Association Hall of Famer, died Saturday at the age of 81. Greer was one of Marshall University’s most well-known players and paved the way for scholarships for future African-American basketball players at Marshall.

“Hal Greer’s talent, drive, tenacity and unforgettable jump shot made him a Hall of Famer and one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a release. “An NBA champion and the 76ers’ career scoring leader, he also embraced a leading role in the racial integration of basketball at Marshall University and his home state of West Virginia. As the NBA family mourns Hal’s passing, we celebrate his deep and lasting impact on our game.”

Greer played three varsity seasons at Marshall, where he tallied 1,377 points and 765 rebounds, was the Mid-American Conference Most Valuable Player and a two-time All-MAC selection.

Greer was inducted into the Marshall Hall of Fame in 1985. He was the first African-American basketball player at Marshall, where he totaled 71 appearances on the court.

“I’m terribly saddened by the news of Hal’s passing,” said Marshall Director of Athletics Mike Hamrick in a statement. “I had the wonderful opportunity to visit with him and his family back in February of 2012 when we closed the doors on the Veterans Memorial Fieldhouse. That is a memory I will always cherish. My thoughts and prayers go out to his loved ones.”

Greer was drafted by the Syracuse Nationals in the second round of the 1958 NBA Draft and eventually became a legend for the team, which relocated to Philadelphia and became the 76ers. He scored more than 20,000 points and won an NBA championship in 1968. He played alongside Wilt Chamberlain in the 76ers 1967-68 season, when they went 68-13, the league record for wins in a season at that time.

The 76ers beat the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals after Boston had won the NBA title for the past eight seasons and went on to beat the San Francisco Warriors in six games (4-2) in the NBA Finals for the first championship in 76ers history.

Greer was selected to the All-Star team 10 times over the course of his 15-year career. He spent all 15 years with the 76ers organization, becoming the all-time 76ers leader in points, field goals made and attempted, games and minutes played. Greer was the first player to have his number (15) retired by the 76ers organization in 1976.

“Hal was a fantastic ambassador for Marshall and a great basketball player,” Marshall men’s basketball head coach Dan D’Antoni said in a statement. “He will forever be remembered by Herd fans and will be enshrined forever with the boulevard that is named after him.”

The 76ers paid tribute to Greer with a moment of silence prior to Monday’s Eastern Conference first round playoff game against the Miami Heat. The 76ers will also wear a patch with Greer’s No. 15 on their jerseys for the duration of the NBA Playoffs.

Zach Stevens can be contacted at [email protected]

CORRECTION: Hal Greer was originally drafted by the Syracuse Nationals in 1958, not the Philadelphia 76ers. The Nationals later moved to Philadelphia following the 1962-63 season and became the 76ers.

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