Former NBA player Dean Meminger was found dead Friday in a Harlem hotel room, according to CBSNewYork/AP.
Staff at the Hamilton Heights [Casablanca] Hotel found Meminger just before noon Friday unconscious and unresponsive inside a room, and emergency medical personnel pronounced him dead, police said. There were no signs of trauma, and the cause of death has not been determined, said police, who are still investigating.
The New York Post, citing anonymous sources, reported that Meminger might have died of a drug overdose. He was found with “white stuff oozing out of his nose,” a source told the newspaper. Meminger was wearing his championship ring when his body was discovered.
“Looked like he had a seizure after he was using cocaine, but the medical examiner will have the final say”, the Post added.
Meminger, a South Carolina native who went on to be a star player at New York City’s Rice High School, was drafted by the Knicks in the first round (16th overall) of the 1971 draft, and was a member of the 1973 championship team.
He was wearing the gold championship ring on his finger when he was found.
“Everyone at the New York Knicks’ organization is saddened to hear the news of Dean Meminger’s passing,” Knicks general manager Glen Grunwald said in a statement. “From the day he was drafted by this franchise in 1971, Dean was a friend and close family member of this team. On April 5, 2013, the 1973 world championship team was honored at Madison Square Garden on its 40th anniversary. There was no one prouder than Dean to be back on the court with his teammates. We send our heartfelt condolences to the entire Meminger family.
Before heading into the NBA, Meminger attended Marquette University from 1968-1971. As a junior, the 6’0” guard helped lead his 8th ranked Warriors to the 1970 NIT championship. Meminger was named MVP of the title game, in which Marquette defeated St. John’s 65-53.
“We are deeply saddened by the passing of Dean Meminger, one of the greatest players in the storied history of Marquette University basketball,” Marquette athletic director Mike Broeker said in a statement. “Dean will always be remembered by MU fans for leading the program to the 1970 National Invitation Tournament title and being a consensus All-America selection the following year.”
Meminger played six seasons in the NBA for the New York Knicks (1971-74) and Atlanta Hawks (1974-76). He went back to NY in the 1976-77 season to retire as a Knick. He has career marks of 6.1 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game.
After his playing days were over, Meminger was head coach of the New York Stars in the Women’s Professional Basketball League, which played three seasons from the fall of 1978-81. Meminger guided the Stars to the league championship during the 1979-80 season and was named the league’s coach of the year. Unfortantely, the team’s success was short lived as the Stars folded without being able to repeat as champions due to lack of funds.
In 1982 Meminger was hired to coach the Albany Patroons in the Continental Basketball Association. He was later dismissed for his combative style with his players and replaced by his former Knicks teammate and friend Phil Jackson. An old New York Times article stated “Meminger had grated on his players and often suited up in practice, challenging their manhood on defense. After he was fired, Meminger prevailed upon Jackson to let him try out for the team. The players decided to return the favor during workouts, and his hamstring gave out a few days later.”
“The Dream” also coached the United States Basketball League’s (USBL) Long Island Knights in 1987, and in later years, spent some time coaching at Manhattanville College in New York.
Meminger’s family, which includes son and NY1 reporter Dean Meminger Jr., expressed a heartfelt message to the public:
“We want to thank everyone for their prayers and condolences during this difficult time for our family,” Meminger’s family said in a statement. “Dean `The Dream’ Meminger touched the hearts of so many on and off the basketball court. Through basketball and education, he helped countless people around the country receive scholarships, high school and college admissions, and even employment.”