Basketball royalty turns out for Syracuse legend Pearl Washington’s funeral
By Mike Waters, Syracuse.com
Brooklyn, N.Y. — A king’s court of basketball royalty turned out for Pearl Washington’s funeral on Friday.
It wasn’t just the crowd of almost 2,500 that filled the Christian Cultural Center here in Brooklyn, but it was basketball’s “who’s who” among that crowd that stood out.
Several of Washington’s former Syracuse teammates were in attendance, but so were Syracuse players who came both before and after the legendary Orangeman.
The list of Orange greats included Dave Bing, Roosevelt Bouie, Dale Shackleford, Rafael Addison, Wendell Alexis, Sherman Douglas, Howard Triche, Sean Kerins, Mike Hopkins, Lawrence Moten, Billy Owens and John Wallace.
In addition to Washington’s teammates were some of his fiercest rivals. Former Big East stars, including Chris Mullin of St. John’s and Ed Pinckney came to pay their respects.
Syracuse Orange great Pearl Washington’s former teammate Rafael Addison talked about Pearl’s kindness at his funeral services in Brooklyn on Friday, April 29. Washington passed away April 20. Stephen D. Cannerelli | email@example.com
And some of the biggest names in New York’s basketball lineage were on hand, including Kenny Smith, who went on to play at North Carolina and in the NBA; and New York Knicks great Earl “The Pearl” Monroe, after whom Pearl Washington earned his nickname.
Kenny Smith (New York City/North Carolina)
“I’ve said it all the time. He brought so much attention to the New York City area. I feel like a part of me just left. I was so linked to him in the ’83 class. We did all the All-Star games, all the AAU games, all through the city. We were two city guards and we both made the McDonald’s game together. We traveled together. I feel like a piece of me is gone. It’s a tough day. It’s tough because of that.”
Sherman Douglas (Syracuse 1986-1989)
“He humbled me. I came in and played behind him. Everybody thinks they’re a high school All-American and everybody thinks they’re great, but when I came there, he put me on the bench. He made me a better basketball player. Also, everybody who came after him has to pay homage to him. He put Syracuse on the map. He made Syracuse basketball what it is today.”
Earl “The Pearl” Monroe (New York Knicks great)
“He was just a fantastic person. I got to know him at an early age as a high school player. He was a man playing against boys in high school. The things he did like his dedication to his family and his community are unparalleled. I just loved the guy.”
John Wallace (Syracuse 1993-96)
“I’m pretty sure when Syracuse first started their plans for building the Dome, they were trying to figure out how they would fill the Dome going from Manley Field House with about 3,000 to 5,000 fans to about 30,000 seats. (The Dome) is the greatest place to play college basketball in the world still today. Pearl was heaven-sent because he filled that Dome from Day 1 and it’s still filled to this day. It’s all because of Pearl Washington.”
Ed Pinckney (New York City/Villanova)
“He meant that much to the game of basketball, especially to Syracuse, the city of Brooklyn and the city of New York. He was a special player. He inspired a lot of people. The biggest thing that everybody talked about is when you knew him on a personal level, he hated to talk about himself. He didn’t like to talk about his accolades or anything he accomplished. That draws people to you when you’re a genuine person.”
Dave Bing (Syracuse 1963-66)
“I followed his career at Syracuse and beyond. I never got to know him very well, but coming here to this service, we are a family. It doesn’t matter what generation you played in or who your teammates were. We all follow Syracuse. One of the things that was impressive about the service is we knew he was a great player, but his humility and the way he carried himself came out loud and clear by everybody that spoke of him. He didn’t let the stardom go to his head. It’s sad that he’s gone at such a young age, but he left a lot of good memories for a lot of people.”
Jim Boeheim (Syracuse University coach)
“He made our program, he made me.”
(Head Coach, Syracuse University, Men’s Basketball Team) –
Remarks at the funeral of Dwayne “Pearl” Washington
I’d been coaching a few years and we’d had some success. We tried to recruit in California. I went to California. I went to a high school; a very good basketball high school, and the guy looked at me. The athletic director and coach looked at me and said, “Syracuse? Where’s that?” I explained to them where we were and what we did. The next year Pearl came to Syracuse. That spring I went to Los Angeles again. I went to the baggage claim to pick up my bag and the baggage handler looked at me. He was kind of excited. He said, “I know you. You’re Pearl’s coach”.
“Pearl Washington came to Syracuse and made our basketball program. (applause)
“He made the conference, he made our program, he made me.
“I could tell you a lot of stories about him. You coached a long time. A lot of my guys are here. I appreciate seeing them. Great players. We’ve had a lot of great players. When you coach like I do, you have to have great players or you wouldn’t be coaching 40 years. But everyone had an answer. Whether it was Derrick Coleman or Billy Owens, it was always ‘Coach, what about …?’
“Pearl never had an answer. He never asked for anything. He never said anything except for one time and I’ve never told this story. We were playing Georgetown. We don’t like them too much. It was tied (with) 10 seconds to go. Pearl had had a big game, but they were double-teaming him and they were after him the whole game. They had a great team. They had Patrick Ewing. They were one of the greatest defensive teams ever. So I was going to be a smart coach. I said, ‘Pearl, they’re expecting you, but we’re going to go over here. We’re going to run this play’.
“Pearl looks at me. He doesn’t say anything. Derrick Coleman would’ve said something. (Pearl) just looked at me and I just knew. Everybody was breaking the huddle. You don’t like to admit this as a coach, but I’m going to admit it here today. I called everybody back. Like (Boys & Girls High) coach Paul Brown said, I said ‘Give Pearl the ball and get out of the way’. And he just smiled. He took the ball and scored and we won the game.
“I said we’ve had many great players. I can’t go a bit further without mentioning that the greatest player that ever played at Syracuse is here today. His name is Dave Bing. Again, Derrick will be a little bit mad. (Bing) was my roommate. That’s why we can say that. He averaged a triple-double in college.
“The thing about Pearl and everybody knows this. He was the most humble player, the most humble person that I’ve ever known. And that’s why we remember him the way we do. Because there are a lot of great players, but there’s only one Pearl Washington. Thank you.”
… And the Legends came for the Final Pass
(Photo Credit: Bernice Elizabeth Green)
Upcoming: Pearl’s childhood friend Demmis Steele reveals how The Pearl’s legacy jump-started from Brownsville’s Seth Low and Howard Houses playground; Images from a book-in-progress on Brooklyn high school sports, 1980-2000, by Thor David and Rich Mason; Sportswriter Eddie Castro on Boys and Girls High School Tribute; and David M. Greaves (Syracuse, 1965-1968). View of Pearl’s legacy and the importance of high school sports and the courts.
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The final public viewing and funeral services for Syracuse University basketball legend Dwayne “Pearl” Washington were held at the Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn on Friday, April 29, 2016. Pearl’s fiancee Debra Busacco. Stephen D. Cannerelli |
- Pearl’s fiancee Debra Busacco. Stephen D. Cannerelli |