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Bobby Wanzer dies at 94; Hall of Famer starred for Rochester Royals

Basketball Hall of Famer Bobby Wanzer died Saturday at the age of 94.

Wanzer played all nine of his NBA seasons with the Rochester Royals (now the Sacramento Kings). He helped guide the team to the 1951 NBA championship as part of a noted backcourt with fellow Hall of Famer Bob Davies.

In the Finals, Wanzer averaged 12.4 points and 3.6 assists and scored 13 points in the decisive Game 7 to help beat the New York Knicks.

A five-time All-Star, he averaged 12.2 points and 3.2 assists in 568 regular-season games. He also was a career .802 free throw shooter and led the NBA in the 1951-52 season by converting .904 percent of his attempts. He was the first player in NBA history to make better than 90 percent of his free throw attempts in a season.

He was a player-coach with the Royals from 1955 to 1958, finishing with a 98-136 record.

"As one of the first NBA players to shoot over 90 percent from the free throw line, Bobby Wanzer's incredible work ethic was on display each time he took the floor," John L. Doleva, president and CEO of the Basketball Hall of Fame, said in a statement. "He was a complete player and an even better teammate. He will be truly missed by the basketball community."

Wanzer was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1987.

After his playing career, Wanzer started St. John Fisher College's basketball program and coached the team from 1963 to '87. He finished with a 312-245 record at the school.

Born in Brooklyn in 1921, Wanzer played for New York City championship teams at Benjamin Franklin High School in Harlem in 1940 and 1941 before enrolling at Seton Hall. He was a standout for the Pirates for two seasons, 1942-43 and 1946-47, his college career interrupted for three years while he served in the Marines during World War II. In those two seasons, Wanzer led the Pirates to a 40-5 record, including what was then a program-best 24 wins in 1946-47, when he led the team in scoring at 11.6 points per game.

He returned to the school after World War II ended and Davies, his future teammate, was his coach.

Wanzer is survived by a son and two daughters; a sister, Marilyn Ulrich; and five grandchildren and a great-granddaughter.

His wife, Nina, died in 2005. A funeral mass was scheduled for Wednesday morning at Church of the Transfiguration in Pittsford.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.