Titan Hall of Famer and NBA star Dave DeBusschere ’62 was recently recognized as one of the top NBA players of all time after earning a spot on the league’s 75th Anniversary Team.
The team was selected by a panel of current and former NBA players, coaches, general managers and executives, WNBA legends, sportswriters and broadcasters. Voters selected the 75 greatest players in NBA history, without regard to position.
DeBusschere was a three-time consensus All-American under coach Bob Calihan during his career with the Titans (1960-62) and is still the all-time Titan leader for career scoring average (24.8 points per game) and total rebounds (1,552), and is the fourth-leading scorer (1,985) in school history. He played in just 80 career games, as freshmen were not allowed to participate.
DeBusschere was the first Titan to average more than 20 points in three consecutive college seasons (tied by Antoine Davis this past year), and his No. 22 jersey was retired in 1978. He also grabbed a Titan single-game record 39 boards against Central Michigan in 1960 and netted a career-high 44 points at Dayton in 1962.
He was a major part of the University’s first three postseason invitations – bids to the NIT in 1960 and 1961, and to the NCAA Tournament in 1962. The Titans were 53-38 during his three playing seasons, tying a school record with 20 wins in 1959-60 in a schedule that featured victories over Purdue, Boston College, Marquette, Notre Dame, Xavier and Seton Hall. The next two seasons would see the Titans post triumphs over Indiana, Nebraska, Syracuse, Michigan and Villanova.
After his All-American career with the Titans, he was selected by the Detroit Pistons in the first round of the 1962 NBA Draft. He was a 1963 All-Rookie Team selection and played for the Pistons until being traded to the New York Knicks in 1968.
DeBusschere was an eight-time NBA All-Star (1966-68, ’70-73) and one of the best defensive players in NBA history, earning All-Defensive Team laurels in each of the award’s first six years of existence. He was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1983 and was named one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History during the league’s 50th Anniversary celebration in 1996. He was a founder of the National Basketball Retired Players Association in 1992, following his playing career.
DeBusschere became the youngest coach in NBA history when he was named player-coach of the Detroit Pistons at age 24 in 1964-65, just his third NBA season.
He was then traded to the New York Knicks, and alongside fellow Hall of Famers Walt Frazier, Willis Reed, Earl Monroe and Bill Bradley, helped lead the team to three consecutive NBA finals in 1970-73, winning titles in ‘70 and ‘73.
DeBusschere averaged 19.0 points and 12.6 rebounds per game as the Knicks defeated the Los Angeles Lakers in seven games to win the title in 1970. He then posted 15.6 points and 11.6 rebounds in the 1973 Finals, when the Knicks beat the Lakers in five games.
A prolific rebounder, DeBusschere averaged a double-double (16.1 points, 11 rebounds) over his 12-year career, and his No. 22 is retired by the Knicks. He would go on to become the general manager of the New York Knicks from 1982-1986.
Outside of basketball, he was also an exceptional baseball player as an All-American pitcher during his days at the University and ranked fourth all-time with a 2.20 ERA. He pitched for the Chicago White Sox for two seasons (1962-63) before turning his attention fully to the NBA.