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La Salle basketball legend Gola passes away

3:15 AM, Jan 27, 2014   |    comments
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Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Philadelphia basketball legend Tom Gola, who plied his trade collegiately at La Salle and then ultimately became the program's head coach, died on Sunday. He was 81.

The Daily News reported on Sunday that Gola passed away at a suburban Philly personal-care facility, where he spent his last years of life.

Back in 2003, Gola suffered a serious head injury after he fell outside a restaurant, hitting his head on the curb. He was in a coma and was reported to be close to death, but recovered enough to walk unassisted again.

However, according to the papers, seizures robbed him of his mobility and caused him to be placed under a hospital's care.

Gola, a graduate of La Salle University, had a great four-year stint at what was known as La Salle College. He helped lead the Explorers to an NIT title as a freshman in 1952 and the NCAA championship during his junior year in 1954.

The third all-time leading scorer and No. 1 all-time rebounder at La Salle, Gola was a territorial pick of the Philadelphia Warriors and helped lead the team to the NBA title in 1956. He also played for the New York Knicks during his 10-year NBA career.

He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1975 and the Big 5 Hall of Fame in 1986.

After becoming the head coach of the basketball program at La Salle, he guided the Explorers to a 23-1 record and a No. 2 ranking in the nation in 1968. However, the team could not compete in the NCAA Tournament since it was on probation due to problems with the program while under the guidance of coach Jim Harding.

La Salle University's home court is named Tom Gola Arena.

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