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Former Syracuse star Pearl Washington dies at 52

Former Syracuse star Pearl Washington dies at 52

The basketball world lost an icon on Wednesday, with the passing of Dwayne "Pearl" Washington from brain cancer.

Washington had been diagnosed with a brain tumor during the summer of 2015. He was ranked as the number one high school basketball player in 1983.

Washington's basketball life began on the playgrounds of New York City before he moved on to college hoops powerhouse Syracuse under legendary coach Jim Boeheim.

Washington's name took up permanent residency in the Syracuse record books during a collegiate career that covered three seasons, from 1983-to-1986. He was a first-team All-Big East selection three times, a first-team All-American as a junior and a No. 1 draft choice by the New Jersey Nets in 1986. The Orangemen's one-point loss to St. John's in the '86 conference title game was the only time in Washington's career at Syracuse that the Orangemen were on the wrong side of a one-point game.

He, along with Chris Mullin and Patrick Ewing, essentially shepherded the conference from infancy to an otherworldly stratosphere, their play matched only by the histrionics of their coaches on the sidelines.

The Orange entered the top 20 the week after that shot and remained there for the rest of Washington's Syracuse career.

This year's Syracuse men's basketball team honored Washington by wearing orange warm-up shirts with "Pearl" and "31" inscribed on them. "He had a flair for the dramatic".

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SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) — There was a gleam that shone through the sorrowful tears in Jim Boeheim's eyes as he recalled the first time he saw Pearl Washington play. In Syracuse's first three years in the Carrier Dome, there were just three games with crowds of 30,000 or more.

Washington was the "human highlight reel" before anyone had come up with that moniker.

At 6-2, 190, Washington always seemed a bit out of shape.

He was born Dwayne Alonzo Washington on Jan 6, 1964, but by the age of 8, he was simply known as "Pearl"- a nickname given to him on the playgrounds of Brooklyn for his flashy style reminiscent of Knicks great Earl "the Pearl" Monroe.

After two uneven seasons with the Nets, Washington was selected with the No. 17 pick in the 1988 National Basketball Association expansion draft by the Heat, averaging 7.6 points, 4.2 assists and 2.3 turnovers in 19.7 minutes in 54 games. And as one of TNIAAM's writers who had the pleasure of seeing him play in the 1980s, I wanted to simply offer a few words to share with the community, and perhaps give some of our younger friends on the site some comments on what he meant to Syracuse. Washington's situation earned even more publicity as 10th-seeded Syracuse made a surprise run to this year's Final Four.

"... so the next year we scrimmage them again but Pearl's not there, and the whole time people are asking, 'Where's Pearl?"


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