Former Syracuse Great Dwayne “Pearl” Washington Passes Away

Ray Stubblebine/Associated Press

Former Syracuse great, Dwayne “Pearl”Washington had passed away at the age of 52, according to his family. Syracuse announced Washington’s death in a news release. Last summer, Washington was diagnosed with a brain tumor, which he received surgery for last fall. This was the passing of a great figure in basketball. Dwayne Washington helped to showcase the Big East.

Washington grew up in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, New York. At a young age, he displayed such skill on the court that locals dubbed him “The Pearl” because his game resembled that of NBA great Earl “The Pearl” Monroe. Washington excelled at Boys and Girls High School in Brooklyn and he was the nation’s most sought-after recruit in 1983. When Washington, a point guard, committed to Syracuse, coach Jim Boeheim said the program was changed forever. “I can’t underscore how big a moment that was for our program,”

Boeheim said in the book “Color Him Orange: The Jim Boeheim Story.” “I believe at that point we officially went from being an Eastern program to a national program. Everybody knew who the Pearl was. I’d get off of a plane in L.A. Somebody would say, ‘There’s Pearl’s coach.'” He was the guy who opened the door for us and enabled us to land recruits not just from the East Coast or the Midwest but from the entire country.”. Washington was the best thing to happen to Syracuse.

Washington’s most memorable moment at Syracuse came on January 21, 1984. With a home crowd of 30,293 watching, Washington made a running 45-foot shot at the buzzer to give the Orange a 75-73 win over Boston College. Washington, who finished with team-high 20 points and seven assists, held both his arms high in triumph as he sprinted off the court and straight into the tunnel leading to the locker room. With the win, Syracuse remained the only undefeated team in the Big East. This was a huge moment in college basketball.

Washington earned All-America recognition at Syracuse from 1984 through 1986. He was named first team All-Big East twice and he was the conference’s tournament most valuable player in 1985. He led the Orange in assists and steals during each of his three seasons with the school. Syracuse was 71-24 when Washington was with the team.

In 1986, Washington was the No. 13 overall pick by the New Jersey Nets in the NBA draft. Washington played two seasons with New Jersey, averaging 8.6 points and 4.2 assists per game in 1986-87 and 9.3 points and 3.0 assists per game in 1987-88. He played his final NBA season with the Miami Heat in 1988-89, after the Heat selected him with the 17th pick in the 1988 expansion draft. Washington averaged 7.6 points and 4.2 assists per game that season. For his career, Washington had 256 steals and 733 assists in 194 games.

Washingtons number 31 jersey was retired by Syracuse on the date March 2nd, 1996. Entering the 2015-16 season, he ranked in the top 5 in career steals and assists. Very few can be disputed as being bigger for Syracuse than Washington. Jim Boeheim has said as such, this is an emotional time for basketball fans everywhere, Syracuse fans in particular.

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