Darrall Imhoff, the Knicks’ top draft pick in 1960 and an Olympic champion, has died at 78.
Imhoff died of a heart attack in Bend, Ore., according to the Portland TrailBlazers, the last team he played for in his 12-year NBA career.
Imoff was likely most famous for being the starting center for the Knicks when Wilt Chamberlain scored an NBA record 100 points against them for the Philadelphia Warriors on March 2, 1962.
Imhoff was not at all happy with being branded as the man who gave up 100 points. He got into foul trouble and played only 20 minutes in the game, and was not on the floor when Chamberlain reached triple-digits.
Imhoff was still angry decades later, and said so to the Los Angeles Times in 2005.
“I only played 20 minutes in that game,” Imhoff said. “I picked up my third foul in the first 10 minutes and when I returned, Wilt had 89 points.
“After I got my third foul, I said to one of the officials, ‘Why don’t you just give him 100 points and we’ll all go home.’”
Imhoff didn’t stay with the Knicks for long. He was traded to the Pistons in 1962 for guard and future NBA coach Gene Shue.
Imhoff led the Pete Newell-coached California Golden Bears to the 1959 NCAA title and played alongside Oscar Robertson and Jerry West on the 1960 Olympic team — also coached by Newell.
Nicknamed “The Ax” for his physical play, Imhoff was selected third overall by the Knicks in 1960 — behind Robertson and West — and averaged 7.2 points and 7.6 rebounds in 801 games in 12 seasons with the Knicks, Pistons, Lakers, 76ers, Cincinnati Royals and TrailBlazers. He played in the 1967 NBA All-Star game while with the Lakers.
The 6-foot-10 Imhoff, from San Gabriel, Calif., led Cal to the NCAA title games in 1959 and 1960. In 1959, he notched 22 points and 16 rebounds in a semifinal victory over Robertson’s Cincinnati team, and scored the winning basket with 17 seconds left in a 71-70 victory over West’s West Virginia squad in the final. Imhoff averaged 10.0 points and 9.5 rebounds in 75 games for Cal.
The left-hander was inducted into the Cal Athletic Hall of Fame in 1988. In 2009, as part of the 50th-year celebration of the NCAA title, his No. 40 jersey was retired.
— With The Associated Press
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