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Wednesday, November 19, 2003
Donovan dies from complications of a stroke
BERNARDSVILLE, N.J. -- Eddie Donovan, the general manager who helped build the New York Knicks' two championship teams in the 1970s, has died. He was 78.
Donovan died Saturday from complications of a stroke, his family said. The Knicks held a moment of silence before their game against the Indiana Pacers on Sunday.
"Eddie was a great basketball guy, had a great feeling for the game," said Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson, who was drafted by Donovan with the Knicks. "He had an affectionate spirit about himself."
Donovan was general manager of the Knicks from 1963-70, acquiring Willis Reed, Bill Bradley, Walt Frazier, Dave DeBusschere, Cazzie Russell and Jackson.
Donovan also coached the Knicks for four seasons, going 84-194. His .302 winning percentage is the worst of the 18 coaches in Knicks history.
His most famous game came on March 2, 1962, in his first season at the helm. Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points against the Knicks that night in the Philadelphia Warriors' 169-147 win.
Donovan was fired as coach in 1965 but remained as general manager, where he made many of the moves that led to the Knicks titles in 1970 and 1973.
One of the most important one came in December 1968, when Donovan shipped Walt Bellamy and Howard Komives to the Detroit Pistons for DeBusschere.
"It was the trade that made the New York Knicks what they were," Jackson said Sunday after the Lakers' 103-92 loss to Miami.
Donovan left the Knicks for the expansion Buffalo Braves in March 1970, two months before Reed and Frazier led the Knicks past Chamberlain and the Lakers for their first championship.
Donovan returned to the Knicks as general manager in 1975 with less success and was bumped upstairs in 1982.
"He was a wonderfully friendly fellow, a man who really loved basketball," said Jackson, who last talked to Donovan about a year ago.
Donovan also coached at St. Bonaventure, going 139-57 in eight seasons.
He is survived by his wife Marjorie, three sons, two daughters and 14 grandchildren.
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