LeBron James often gets credit for his ability to play all five positions on the court, but believe it or not he wasn’t the first. The NBA is now all about versatility, and positions have pretty much disappeared from the game. Though many see this as a recent trend, guys were doing it back in the 1950′s.
Tom Gola is a Naismith Hall of Famer who changed the game of basketball by being able to play and defend all five positions on the court. Gola was 6-foot-6, and he was one of the most versatile players of his time. Gola has passed away at the age of 81, the league and Philadelphia 76ers have announced Sunday.
Gola made his name at La Salle, where he was a three-time All-American, and he was drafted by the Philadelphia Warriors back in 1955. He went on to play 11 seasons in the NBA with the Philadelphia Warriors (later the San Francisco Warriors) and the New York Knicks. He had career averages of 11.3 points, 8 rebounds, and 4.2 assists over those 11 seasons. He won a title with the Warriors in 1956.
The Sixers released a statement about Gola:
“On behalf of the entire Philadelphia 76ers organization, we are deeply saddened to learn of the unfortunate passing of La Salle basketball legend Tom Gola,” Philadelphia 76ers Chief Executive Officer Scott O’Neil said in a statement. “Tom will always be fondly remembered for his dedication to this city and as an icon for his accomplishments both on and off the court. “We extend our deepest sympathies to his wife, Caroline, and the entire Gola family during this difficult time.”
Our thoughts and prayers are with Gola’s family, and this true pioneer of basketball will be missed.