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Basketball hall of famer

November 11, 2009|Times Staff and Wire Reports

Al Cervi, 92, a basketball hall of famer who played for the Buffalo Bisons and the Rochester Royals of the National Basketball League before coaching the Syracuse Nationals to the 1955 NBA championship, died Monday at a hospice in Rochester, N.Y.

Cervi (pronounced SUR-vee) was a 5-foot-11 1/2 -inch guard known for his defense.

Born in Buffalo, N.Y., on Feb. 12, 1917, he started his pro basketball career in 1937 with the Bisons of the old NBL and was named the team's most valuable player in the 1938-39 season.

During World War II, Cervi served five years in the Army Air Forces. When he returned to the NBL, he joined the Rochester Royals and played on the team that won the 1946 league title. He led the league in scoring in the 1946-47 season and was named the NBL's most valuable player.

Cervi signed with the Syracuse Nationals as a player-coach in 1948, a year before the NBL was folded into the National Basketball Assn. He played through the 1952-53 season, then coached the team full time for four more years.

After coaching the Philadelphia Warriors for one season, 1958-59, Cervi retired from basketball and became a manager for a Rochester-based trucking company.


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