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Jack Twyman, NBA Hall of Famer, dies at 78

Jack Twyman, a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame who was one of the NBA’s top scorers in the 1950s and became the guardian of a paralyzed teammate, died May 30 at a Cincinnati hospice. He was 78. He had an aggressive form of blood cancer, his son, Jay Twyman said.

Mr. Twyman played for the University of Cincinnati and spent 11 seasons in the NBA with the Rochester and Cincinnati Royals. He averaged a career-high 31.2 points per game in the 1959-60 season, second only to basketball legend Wilt Chamberlain. Mr. Twyman played in six NBA All-Star games.

In 1958, after teammate Maurice Stokes was left paralyzed after a head injury suffered during a game, Mr. Twyman became his guardian to help Stokes receive medical benefits.

Mr. Twyman later was a basketball analyst on television. His most famous work as an announcer came in Game 7 of the 1970 NBA finals between the New York Knicks and the Los Angeles Lakers, when he stopped himself mid-sentence during the pregame to announce that he saw injured New York center Willis Reed coming through the player tunnel. It had not been known whether Reed would be able to play because of an injured thigh muscle, but he went on to lead New York to a 113-99 victory.

Mr. Twyman scored 15,840 points in his career, for an average of 19.2 points a game, and was inducted to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1983.

He also left his mark on the NBA for the way he helped Stokes, who was a budding star in 1958. In the last game of that season, Stokes hit his head on the floor. He later had a seizure, slipped into a coma and was left paralyzed.

In addition to becoming Stokes’s guardian, Mr. Twyman organized an exhibition game with NBA players to raise money for his teammate. That game became an annual tradition to raise money for needy former players. Stokes died in 1970.

John Kennedy Twyman was born May 21, 1934, in Pittsburgh. At the University of Cincinnati, the 6-foot-6 Mr. Twyman led the team in scoring and rebounding for three consecutive seasons.

He was named an All-American in 1955, when he averaged 24.6 points and 16.5 rebounds per game. He was drafted in the first round by the Rochester Royals in 1955. The franchise moved to Cincinnati two years later.

Survivors include his wife, Carole; four children; and 14 grandchildren.

— News services and staff reports

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