Alex Groza

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Alex Groza
No. 15
Center
Personal information
Born (1926-10-07)October 7, 1926
Martins Ferry, Ohio
Died January 21, 1995(1995-01-21) (aged 68)
San Diego, California
Nationality American
Listed height 6 ft 7 in (2.01 m)
Listed weight 218 lb (99 kg)
Career information
High school Martins Ferry
(Martins Ferry, Ohio)
College Kentucky (1945–1949)
NBA draft 1949 / Round: 1 / Pick: 2nd overall
Selected by the Indianapolis Olympians
Pro career 1949–1951
Career history
As player:
19491951 Indianapolis Olympians
As coach:
1970 Kentucky Colonels (ABA)
1974–1975 San Diego Conquistadors (ABA)
Career highlights and awards
Career NBA statistics
Points 2,925 (22.5 ppg)
Rebounds 709 (10.7 rpg)
Assists 318 (2.4 apg)
Stats at Basketball-Reference.com

Alex John Groza[1] (October 7, 1926 – January 21, 1995) was an American professional basketball player from Martins Ferry, Ohio who was banned from the NBA for life in 1951 for point shaving. He had an outstanding college career at the University of Kentucky and was a two-time All-Star for the Indianapolis Olympians before his career came to an abrupt end.

Early life[edit]

Groza grew up in Martins Ferry, Ohio and attended Martins Ferry High School. He was the brother of future Pro Football Hall-of-Famer Lou Groza.

Alex Groza led the Purple Riders to two undefeated regular seasons and to the Ohio state tournament both years, as Martins Ferry finished 24-1 in 1943 and 26-1 in 1944. In 1944, he scored 628 points, including 41 in one game, and was named first-team All-Ohio.[2]

College career[edit]

A jersey honoring Groza hangs in Rupp Arena.

Groza was the captain and center of the "Fabulous Five" that won the 1948 and 1949 NCAA Men's Basketball Championships, as well as the leading scorer on the gold medal-winning 1948 US Olympic basketball team.[3] Groza was three-time All-American and All-SEC, and two-time NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player.

Professional career[edit]

Groza was drafted in the 1st round of the 1949 NBA Draft by the Indianapolis Olympians. Groza averaged 23.4 points per game in his rookie season and was named NBA Rookie of the Year — a designation not currently sanctioned by the NBA for the 1949-50 season. He averaged 22.5 points per game over two seasons before being implicated along with college teammates Ralph Beard and Dale Barnstable in a point shaving scandal during the 1948-49 season at Kentucky. NBA president Maurice Podoloff banned all of the implicated players from the league for life.

As a result of this ban, Groza became the first player in NBA history to end his career with a season in which he averaged at least 20 points per game (Groza averaged 21.7 PPG during the 1950-51). In NBA history, only three players have had higher scoring averages in their final NBA seasons: Bob Pettit (22.5 PPG in '64-65), Paul Arizin (21.9 PPG in '61-62), and Dražen Petrović (22.3 PPG in '92-93).

Coaching career[edit]

After his playing career ended, Groza became the coach of Bellarmine University (now University) in Louisville, Kentucky. In 1963, Groza led the Knights to a Kentucky Intercolliegiate Athletic Conference title and was named KIAC coach of the year. Groza left Bellarmine in 1966 for a brief coaching and managerial career in the American Basketball Association. Between 1971 and 1975, Groza coached 40 games with the Kentucky Colonels and San Diego Conquistadors and held a number of front office positions, including becoming the Kentucky Colonels' business manager in 1969 and general manager of the San Diego Conquistadors in 1972 (and, later, San Diego's head coach). Groza was 2-0 as coach of the Colonels but 15-23 as coach of the Conquistadors, putting his career coaching record at 17-23 [1]. Groza served as general manager of the San Diego Conquistadors beginning in 1972 until taking over as the team's coach in 1974, replacing Wilt Chamberlain. In 1975 Groza became director of player development for the San Diego Sails of the ABA.[4]

Personal life[edit]

After the team moved to Houston, Groza remained in San Diego, working as a sales manager for Reynolds International until his death.[5]

Alex Groza died of cancer in 1995 at age 68. He was survived by his wife of 42 years, Jean (Watson) Groza,[2] two sons, two daughters, and two grandchildren.[5]

Miscellaneous[edit]

  • Groza led the league in field goal percentage in 1950.
  • Alex Groza was the brother of football Hall of Famer Lou Groza.
  • Groza's nickname was "The Beak".[6]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Gene Rhodes
Kentucky Colonels Head Coach
1970–1970
Succeeded by
Frank Ramsey
Preceded by
Wilt Chamberlain
San Diego Conquistadors Head Coach
1974–1975
Succeeded by
Beryl Shipley