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