Al Cervi, a 1946 winner of the NBL Championship with the Rochester Royals and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 1985 passed away today at the age of 92.
“Al Cervi was a champion both as a player, a coach and in life. His place in history is solidified whether he was serving his country in World War II or being one of the best players and coaches that helped popularize the sport during an important time in basketball’s growth. He will be sadly missed by the entire basketball community” expressed Basketball Hall of Fame President & CEO, John L. Doleva upon learning of Cervi’s passing.
Cervi, born on February 12, 1917 in Buffalo, New York earned an outstanding reputation on the sandlot and semi-pro court which led to his invitation to join the NBL’s Buffalo Bison. While with the Bison, Cervi was the Team MVP following the 1938 season and went on to spend the next five years in the military before returning to be a member of the Rochester Royals. Cervi would lead the Rochester Royals to the 1946 NBL Championship, was an All-NBL First Team selection in 1947, 1948 and 1949 and earned All-NBL Second Team selection in 1946. He would then become a player/coach of the Syracuse Nationals and would win Coach of the Year honors in 1949 prior to his retirement from playing in 1953. Cervi would go on to coach the Nationals until 1956 and would win the 1955 NBA title.