Cervi led Syracuse to 1955 NBA title

Updated: November 10, 2009, 2:46 PM ET
Associated Press

[+] EnlargeAl Cervi
NBAP/NBAE/Getty ImagesAl Cervi (center) was an NBA scoring champ before coaching Syracuse to the 1955 title.

ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- Al Cervi, a pro basketball star who coached the Syracuse Nationals to the 1955 NBA championship, has died in upstate New York at age 92.

The 5-foot-11-inch Cervi was one of the strongest backcourt players of the 1940s and 1950s. Nicknamed "Digger," he was the 1947 National Basketball League scoring champion and MVP as a guard for the Rochester Royals.

He became a player-coach for the Syracuse Nationals in 1948, continuing in that role after the team joined the NBA. He retired as a player in 1953 but coached the Nats until 1957.

He was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1985.

A Buffalo native, Cervi died at a hospice in Rochester on Monday.

The Anthony Funeral Chapel in Brighton, N.Y., says he is survived by his wife of 68 years, Ruth; a son; two daughters; and four grandchildren.


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press