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Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Cervi led Syracuse to 1955 NBA title

Associated Press

Al Cervi
Al 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.