Andy Phillip

Andrew Michael "Handy Andy" Phillip (March 7, 1922 – April 29, 2001) was an American guard/forward who had an 11-year career professional basketball career from 1948 to 1958. Born in Granite City, Illinois, Andy Phillip played for the Chicago Stags of the Basketball Association of America and the Philadelphia Warriors, Fort Wayne Pistons and Boston Celtics, all of the National Basketball Association.

Phillip led his high school, Granite City, to the Illinois state championship in 1940. He attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he earned renown for his talents and for the Fighting Illini's success during war-interrupted, non-consecutive seasons, 1941–1943 and 1946–1947, . He was a member of Delta Tau Delta fraternity. Phillip served as a First Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps in World War II at Iwo Jima.

Phillip played in the first five NBA All-Star Games, and was twice named to the All-NBA Second Team. He was the first player to record 500 assists in a season, and led the NBA in assists during the 1950-51 and 1950-52 seasons. Phillip's teams made it to the NBA Finals during his final four seasons — twice with Fort Wayne and twice with Boston. The 1957 Boston team won the NBA Championship.

Phillip was alleged by one of his Fort Wayne Pistons teammates, George Yardley, to have conspired with gamblers to throw the 1955 NBA Finals to the Syracuse Nationals. In the decisive seventh game, Phillip turned the ball over with three seconds remaining in the game, enabling Syracuse to win by one point, 92-91.

He coached the St. Louis Hawks for 10 games in 1958, posting a 6-4 record.

Phillip later coached the Chicago Majors of the American Basketball League.

Phillip was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1961.

He was elected to the Illini Men's Basketball All-Century Team in January 2005. In 2007, Phillip was voted one of the "100 Legends of the IHSA Boys Basketball Tournament," recognizing his superior performance in his appearance in the tournament.

Phillip died at his home in Rancho Mirage, California on April 29, 2001. He was 79 years old.

Sports writer Dan Manoyan writes about Phillip and his Granite City High School basketball teammates in Men of Granite. Hollywood Producer Valerie McCaffrey is planning a film based on this non-fiction work; she plans to begin filming in Spring 2012 with Granite City, Illinois as the chosen filming location.

By Dean Hanley

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