There have only been two NBA championships won by the New York Knicks. One of which was the 1973 NBA championship team in which Dean Meminger was a reserve guard. Meminger was found dead Friday in a Manhattan hotel room at the age of 65.
Before Carmelo Anthony wore number seven that number belonged to Dean Meminger. Meminger was a 6'0", 175 pound guard from Walterboro, South Carolina. He played college ball for Marquette from 1968-71 and was the 16th overall pick of the 1971 NBA Draft of the New York Knicks. He played for the Knicks from 1971-74, the Atlanta Hawks from 1974-76 and finished his NBA career with the Knicks from 1976-77.
He was a 1971 Consensus NCAA All-American First Team player and a member of the 1973 NBA champion New York Knicks. During his NBA career he scored 2,552 points, recorded 1,086 rebounds and dished out 1,046 assists. He averaged 6.1 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game.
Meminger was rescued from a fire in the Bronx on November 22, 2009. Although he survived the fire he was admitted to the burn unit of the Jacobi Medical Center with smoke inhalation. Meminger recovered and was seen there after at local basketball events.
However, that luck came to an end when he was found dead at a hotel in Harlem on August 23, 2013. Meminger was found unconscious and unresponsive inside a room. He was later pronounced dead by emergency medical personnel.
Police do not believe there was any trauma involved with Meminger's passing and the cause of death is yet to be determined. However, an investigation is ongoing into the matter.
ESPNNewYork reports Meminger's family made a statement about his passing.
"We want to thank everyone for their prayers and condolences during this difficult time for our family," Meminger's family said in a statement. "Dean `The Dream' Meminger touched the hearts of so many on and off the basketball court. Through basketball and education, he helped countless people around the country receive scholarships, high school and college admissions, and even employment."
“This comes at a time he just found out his daughter is pregnant, expecting their first baby,’’ Monroe said. “He was looking forward to that.’’
Meminger battled a cocaine addiction and acknowledged using drugs during his NBA career.
Sources have told The Post the death may be related to a cocaine overdose.
“I don’t know about that,’’ Monroe said. “I thought he was removed from that. He even joked about it [last week]. He looked good when I saw him. We had a great time together. He cheered me up immensely, laughing, joking, reminiscing, having a great time.”
Monroe admired Meminger as a teammate for his basketball IQ.
“We kind of gravitated toward each other,’’ Monroe said. “He was kind of the coach’s coach. That’s what he was on the floor. That’s what most guys thought about him. He had a great understanding of the game and was just a good guy to be around.”
Meminger made an impact on both his teammates, the franchise and the community. It was a legacy that Knicks' General Manager Glen Grunwald remembered in a statement.
Knicks general manager Glen Grunwald said in a statement, “Everyone at the Knicks organization is saddened to hear the news of Dean Meminger’s passing. From the day he was drafted by this franchise in 1971, Dean was a friend and close family member of this team. On April 5, 2013, the 1973 World Championship team was honored at Madison Square Garden on it’s 40th anniversary – there was no one prouder than Dean to be back on the court with his teammates. We send our heartfelt condolences to the entire Meminger family.”
Despite his past drug problems, Meminger was one of those professionals that truly earned the admiration of everyone he interacted with. He was a high school and college star who embraced his role as a reserve in the NBA and went on to help the community and in particular the youth. He also passed along his basketball knowledge through coaching.
Meminger is survived by his son and daughter, Dean Jr. and Maisha.
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