Legendary La Salle basketball player and Naismith Basketball Hall of Famer Tom Gola has died, his wife, Caroline, told the Philadelphia Daily News reported on Sunday.
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty ImagesTom Gola, a three-time All-American at La Salle, still has the all-time college record with 2,201 rebounds.
He was 81.
A three-time All-American, Gola led the Explorers to the 1952 NIT championship and NCAA title in 1954. The national player of the year in 1955, Gola was named the most valuable player of both tournaments and remains the school's all-time leading rebounder and third leading scorer. His 2,201 rebounds remains an NCAA record.
Gola spent 10 years in the NBA, leading the Philadelphia Warriors to a championship in 1956 and was a five-time All-Star.
After his NBA career, he returned to his alma mater as head coach and eventually the school named its arena after him.
Born in Philadelphia, he spent the better part of his life there and remains a beloved figure in the city. Gola's health started to deteriorate in 2003 when he slipped, hit his head on a curb and fell into a coma. He suffered seizures and eventually moved into St. Joseph's Manor, where he died on Sunday.