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.
By Dean Hanley
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