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T.M. O'Leary; Had Ties to Inventor of Basketball

February 07, 2001|From Associated Press

FAIRWAY, Kan. — Theodore M. O'Leary, a former player at the University of Kansas and one of the last links to basketball inventor James Naismith, died Monday. He was 90.

O'Leary was honored three years ago as the oldest of 275 lettermen at a reunion marking 100 years of University of Kansas basketball.

"I'm the oldest basketball player alive," he said at the time, "which doesn't say much for playing basketball."

O'Leary, who took a class taught by Naismith, was an All-American in 1931-'32, was the No. 1 player on the school's tennis team and earned a Phi Beta Kappa key for academic excellence.

After graduating in 1932, O'Leary had a 26-9 record in two years as a coach at George Washington University.

Declaring that "coaching wasn't for me," O'Leary resigned and returned to the Kansas City area to work as a reporter for the Kansas City Times. He also was a correspondent for Sports Illustrated.

O'Leary also reviewed books for the Kansas City Star for 60 years.

O'Leary died after a brief illness following a stroke.

He is survived by son Dennis.

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