October 14, 1968|
|Died||April 15, 2012
|Listed height||7 ft 2 in (2.18 m)|
|Listed weight||260 lb (118 kg)|
|High school||Brandon (Brandon, Florida)|
|NBA draft||1990 / Round: 1 / Pick: 24th overall|
|Selected by the San Antonio Spurs|
|Number||24, 42, 33, 55|
|1990–1991||San Antonio Spurs|
|1992–1995||New Jersey Nets|
|1996–1997||Los Angeles Clippers|
|2001–2002||Mobile Revelers (NBA D-League)|
|2003||Brevard Blue Ducks (USBL)|
|Career NBA statistics|
|Points||587 (2.7 ppg)|
|Rebounds||536 (2.5 rpg)|
|Stats at Basketball-Reference.com|
Dwayne Kenneth Schintzius (October 14, 1968 – April 15, 2012) was an American college and professional basketball player who played in the National Basketball Association (NBA) for eight seasons during the 1990s. He played college basketball for the University of Florida, and helped to elevate the Florida basketball program to national prominence. He was selected by the San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the 1990 NBA Draft, but chronic back problems reduced his effectiveness, and he played for six different NBA teams in ten years. Off the court, Schintzius was known for "the lobster" - his distinctive mullet-style haircut - and for his performance as a Russian basketball player in the 1996 comedy film Eddie. He was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia in 2009, and, after treatment and a brief remission, died from complications of the disease in 2012.
Schintzius was born in Brandon, Florida, a suburb of Tampa. He attended Brandon High School, where the seven-foot center played for the Brandon Eagles high school basketball team. Together with teammate Toney Mack, Schintzius led lead the Eagles to a Class 4A state runner-up finish as a sophomore, and another Final Four berth as a junior. As a senior, he averaged 21.1 points and 17 rebounds per game, was a finalist for Florida's Mr. Basketball award, and was recognized as a high school All-American by McDonald's and Parade magazine in 1986.
Schintzius received athletic scholarship offers from many top college programs. Unlike most top Florida high school basketball prospects up to that point, he chose to stay in-state and attend the University of Florida, where he played for the Florida Gators men's basketball team from 1987 to 1990. Schintzius started at center for the Gators beginning early in his freshman season. By the end of his junior season (1988–89), he had led the Gators in scoring, rebounding, and free-throw percentage over at least one full season. He also owned the school record for career blocked shots, and at the end of his junior year, his season totals ranked first, second, and third in school history.
The Gators had never been invited to the NCAA basketball tournament in over seven decades of basketball. However, they made the field during each of Schintztius's three full seasons with the program, advancing to the Sweet Sixteen in 1987. During his junior year, the Gators won their first-ever regular season Southeastern Conference (SEC) championship. Schintzius was recognized as a first-team All-SEC player after that season and was included on multiple All-American lists.
However, Schintzius' college career was marred by disciplinary problems. He occasionally clashed with coach Norm Sloan, including one instance in which he refused to re-enter a contest late in a Gators loss during his sophomore season. He also had minor incidents with opposing players, fans, and mascots, and with others off the court.
During his junior season, Schintzius got out of a car outside a Gainesville nightclub wielding a tennis racket and allegedly hit a fellow Florida student. He later apologized and was not charged with a crime, but the university's office of student affairs found him guilty of violating the student code of conduct and suspended him for four games.
After returning from that suspension, fans in opposing arenas occasionally threw tennis balls onto the court, presumably taunting Schintzius for the incident. In January 1989, Florida traveled to Nashville to face the Vanderbilt Commodores in a crucial SEC matchup. Losing 72 - 70, Florida turned the ball over with only one second left on the clock, seemingly sealing a loss. But at that point, someone in the Memorial Gymnasium home crowd threw a tennis ball onto the court. Referee John Clougherty immediately called a technical foul on the Commodores, and Schintzius, who led the Gators in free throw percentage that season, hit both free throws to send the game into overtime. He then scored the Gators' first seven points in the extra period and Florida won the game 81–78. Florida went on to capture the program's first SEC regular season championship, beating Vanderbilt by a single game.
Sloan was forced to resign before Schintzius's senior season of 1989–90 and was replaced on an interim basis by former Tennessee coach Don DeVoe. Schintzius was not happy with this turn of events and skipped DeVoe's first practice with the team along with fellow star Livingston Chatman. Soon after, he was suspended for alleged involvement in a fraternity house fight. He would never play for the Gators again. Without Livingston Chapman and Schintzius, the Gators would lose sixteen of their remaining seventeen games.
DeVoe told Schintzius that in order to rejoin the basketball team, he would have to maintain his playing weight (he weighed almost 300 pounds at one point), go to class consistently, and get rid of his distinct mullet-style haircut, known as the "lobster.". In a statement released January 25, 1990, Schintzius claimed that he had done all these things, but was nonetheless quitting the team due to conflicts with his new coach. The statement read, in part:
No one can argue that Coach Sloan and Coach Towe (Monte Towe, Sloan's assistant) were easy to play for, and to them you had to accept the coach as the absolute authority and their word as final; but that does not mean I must sail under the authority of Captain Ahab. If you can play for Coach Sloan, you can play for almost anyone, almost anyone.
Schintzius remains the only player in SEC history to amass more than 1,000 points, 800 rebounds, 250 assists and 250 blocks. He holds the Gators career record for blocks (272), and is currently sixth on the Gators' list for career scoring with 1,624 points.
Despite his personal issues, Schintzius was regarded as a good NBA prospect due to his performance on the court. The San Antonio Spurs selected him in the first round (twenty-fourth pick overall) of the 1990 NBA Draft. He injured his back during his rookie season and was traded to the Sacramento Kings for Antoine Carr on September 23, 1991. He later revealed that Spurs general manager Bob Bass disliked his mullet haircut and told him to cut it, which he did. Schintzius then sent Bass the shavings in an envelope. The Kings waived Schintzius during the 1991–92 season, and the New Jersey Nets signed him on October 1, 1992.
Schintzius had several injuries and several surgeries for a spinal disc herniation over the next several years as he moved from team to team in the NBA. He spent three seasons with the New Jersey Nets, a year with the Indiana Pacers, and then a year with the Los Angeles Clippers. After missing the entire 1997–98 season due to injury, he played sixteen games with the Celtics in 1998–99 before retiring from the NBA. In eight NBA seasons, he appeared in 217 regular season games and started thirty-three of them.
He later came out of retirement to play in the minor leagues, and appeared in thirty-five games for the Mobile Revelers of the NBA's Development League in 2001–02. He last played for the Brevard Blue Ducks of the United States Basketball League (USBL) in 2003.
Off the court
Schintzius played Ivan Radovadovitch, a fictional Georgian player for the New York Knicks, in the 1996 comedy movie Eddie, which starred Whoopi Goldberg as the team's female coach. Several other actual NBA players were also featured as members of the Knicks and other real NBA teams in the film. He later appeared in local commercials.
Illness and death
In November 2009, Schintzius was diagnosed with a chronic myelomonocytic leukemia, a rare and often fatal form of the disease. With a bone marrow donation from his brother Travis, he underwent bone marrow transplantation at the Moffit Cancer Center in Tampa on January 12, 2010. The procedure was considered a success, but Schintzius struggled through several difficult rounds of chemotherapy until being declared cancer-free in July 2010.
In early 2012, Schintzius continued to suffer from complications, and a second bone marrow transplant was required. On April 15, 2012, Schintzius died at the Moffit Cancer Center from respiratory failure; he was 43 years old.
- Basketball-Reference.com, Players, Dwayne Schintzius. Retrieved April 16, 2012.
- Bob Hill, "Schintzius Could Make a Big Difference," Sun-Sentinel, p. 1C (November 20, 1986). Retrieved April 16, 2012.
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- 2011–12 Florida Gators Men's Basketball Media Guide, University Athletic Association, Gainesville, Florida, pp. 74, 76–77, 79, 82, 84, 90, 132–133, 146, 151, 153–154, 157, 159–160, 162, 163, 164, 166 (2011). Retrieved April 16, 2012.
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- Joey Johnston, "Ex-UF star, NBA player Dwayne Schintzius battling cancer," The Tampa Tribune (February 17, 2010). Retrieved April 16, 2012.
- Joey Johnston, Bay area native, UF star Schintzius dead at 43," The Tampa Tribune (April 15, 2012). Retrieved April 16, 2012.
- Michael DiRocco, "Dwayne Schintzius dead at age 43," ESPN (April 15, 2012). Retrieved April 16, 2012.