Guerin in February 2014
May 29, 1932 |
The Bronx, New York
|Listed height||6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)|
|Listed weight||195 lb (88 kg)|
|High school||Mount Saint Michael Academy
(Bronx, New York)
|NBA draft||1954 / Round: 2 / Pick: 17th overall|
|Selected by the New York Knicks|
|Number||9, 15, 18, 19|
|1956–1963||New York Knicks|
|St. Louis / Atlanta Hawks|
|1964–1972||St. Louis / Atlanta Hawks|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Points||14,676 (17.3 ppg)|
|Rebounds||4,278 (5.0 rpg)|
|Assists||4,211 (5.0 apg)|
|Stats at Basketball-Reference.com|
|Basketball Hall of Fame as player|
Richard Vincent "Richie" Guerin (born May 29, 1932) is a retired American professional basketball player and coach. The 6'4" (1.93 m) Guerin played with the National Basketball Association's (NBA) New York Knicks from 1956 to 1963 and was a player-coach of the St. Louis/Atlanta Hawks franchise where he spent nine years. On February 15, 2013, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced that Guerin had been elected as one of its 2013 inductees. 
He served in the Marine Corps Reserve from 1947 to 1954. While a reservist, Guerin attended Iona College from 1950 to 1954 where he scored 1,375 points in 67 games. After graduation, Guerin served on active duty at Marine Corps Schools, Quantico, Virginia for two years.
The Knicks drafted Guerin with the 8th pick in the second round of the 1954 NBA Draft while still on active duty. After leaving the Marine Corps, Guerin would begin his professional basketball career in 1956.
As a high-scoring point guard in the late 50s and early 60s, Richie Guerin was one of the most talented and best-loved players ever to wear a New York Knicks jersey. His feisty on-court style and wisecracking off-court demeanor played well to Madison Square Garden crowds.
Guerin was a machinelike scorer, a gifted passer, a smart playmaker, and one of the best rebounding and driving guards of his era. He led the Knicks in assists for five consecutive seasons and in scoring three times during his seven full seasons in the Big Apple, and he tallied more than 20 points per game in four consecutive years. The explosive Guerin also set Knicks single-game records for scoring (57 points in 1959) and assists (21 in 1958).
A fan and media favorite, Guerin played in six consecutive NBA All-Star Games. As a team, however, New York struggled, reaching the playoffs only once during Guerin's tenure. He was traded to the St. Louis Hawks midway through the 1963-64 season and spent the next eight years as the team's player-coach and then head coach. With St. Louis (and eventually Atlanta), Guerin played alongside such greats as Bob Pettit, Lou Hudson, Lenny Wilkens, and Cliff Hagan. Guerin helped the Hawks to nine consecutive playoff appearances and was named NBA Coach of the Year for 1967-68.
New York Knicks
Guerin grew up in the Bronx and stayed close to home when he enrolled at Iona College in 1950 where he played center Number 14 for coach Jim McDermott. New York selected him in the 1954 NBA Draft, but Guerin couldn't join the Knicks until he had completed two years of service in the Marines.
New York was struggling through the mid-50s at or near the bottom of the Eastern Division. Among the only bright spots during that period were high-scoring guard Carl Braun, point guard Dick McGuire, and center Harry Gallatin. Turnover on the team was high.
Guerin joined the club in 1956 and quickly established himself. In only his second season he made the NBA All-Star Team for the first of six straight years. In his third year Guerin led the Knicks in assists (5.1 apg) and ranked second in scoring (18.2 ppg). He dished out a (then) team-record 21 assists against St. Louis on December 12, 1958. The 21 assists he totaled were also Madison Square Garden high until John Stockton broke the record 41 years later. That year New York made its only postseason appearance with Guerin on the team, losing to the Syracuse Nationals in a first-round sweep.
By Guerin's fourth year in the league he had established himself as a scoring machine. He threw in outside bombs and slashed inside for layups on his way to a team-leading 21.8 points per game in 1959-60. His 57 points against Syracuse on December 11 broke Braun's previous team record of 47.
In 1960-61 Guerin again averaged 21.8 points, adding 7.9 rebounds and 6.4 assists per contest. He then had his finest season in 1961-62, averaging 29.5 points and a career-high 6.9 assists in a remarkable 42.9 minutes per game. Guerin ranked sixth in the league in scoring and fourth in assists, and he became the first Knicks player ever to score 2,000 points in a season (2,303). By the end of the campaign Guerin had firmly established himself among the league's backcourt elite. He was named to the All-NBA Second Team for the third time in his first six seasons.
Guerin had another fine season in 1962-63, averaging a team-leading 21.5 points. He ranked seventh in the league in scoring, eighth in assists (4.4 apg), and second in free-throw percentage (.848). But two games into the 1963-64 season the Knicks traded their 31-year-old star to the St. Louis Hawks for cash and a second-round draft choice. When he left the Knicks, Guerin ranked second on the team's all-time scoring list behind Carl Braun. In his first appearance at the Garden in a Hawks uniform, Knicks fans showed their gratitude by giving Guerin a five-minute standing ovation.
St. Louis/Atlanta Hawks
Guerin joined a Hawks team loaded with offensive weapons, and his production dropped accordingly to 13.1 points per game in 1963-64. Midway through the 1964-65 campaign, Guerin became the Hawks' 10th coach in nine years, replacing Harry Gallatin as player-coach. St. Louis had gone 17-16 under Gallatin, and the team went 28-19 under Guerin. The Hawks earned a playoff spot but lost to the Baltimore Bullets in a hard-fought division semifinal series. Under Guerin's direction the Hawks reached the playoffs in each of the next seven seasons.
Guerin played two more full seasons, averaging 14.9 points in 1965-66 and 13.8 in 1966-67. He announced his retirement as a player in 1967, preferring to direct all of his energies toward coaching. The next season Guerin guided the Hawks to a 56-26 record and the Western Division championship. He was named NBA Coach of the Year.
The Hawks moved to Atlanta prior to the 1968-69 season. During the next two years Guerin coached the team to identical 48-34 records, winning another division title in 1969-70. In each of those two seasons he came back briefly as a player, appearing in 27 games in 1968-69 and 8 games in 1969-70.
The fourth game of the 1970 Western Division Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers was Guerin's last game as a player, and he managed to coax one more spectacular performance out of his 37-year-old body. He contributed 31 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists, but it wasn't enough for his team to avoid a four-game sweep.
Guerin enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve and served from 1947 to 1954. While a reservist Guerin attended Iona College from 1950 to 1954, and upon graduation was commissioned a second lieutenant. He served on active duty with the T&T Regt, MCS, Quantico, VA until his discharge as a first lieutenant in June 1956. He was awarded the National Defense Service Medal and the Organized MCR Medal.
Guerin was inducted into the Marine Corps Sports Hall of Fame in 2004.
Following his retirement from professional basketball, Guerin became a Knicks sportscaster and a Wall Street stockbroker. Guerin retired in 2005 following a 31-year stint first as a broker, then as managing director, for Bear, Stearns & Co. Guerin, who has four children and nine grandchildren, now resides in Palm Beach, Florida with his wife, Pat.
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