Monday, May 15, 2017

In memoriam: Frankie Brian

Frankie Brian, former NBL player and NBA All-Star, died yesterday morning. His passing leaves Bob Cousy as the only remaining player from the first NBA All-Star game.


Obituary from

Frank "Flash" Brian, a fearless former LSU basketball star and and the oldest surviving player from the first NBA All-Star Game, died Sunday morning (May 14, 2017) in his hometown of Zachary at age 94.
Brian completed a state triple crown in 2013 when he was inducted into the LSU Athletic Hall of Fame. It came after his election to the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame in Natchitoches in 1986 and the Louisiana Association of Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame in 1987.
He began as a high school standout at Zachary, then lettering in basketball at LSU from 1942-43 and 1946-47 as a guard. His college career was interrupted by military service in World War II, serving in the Army from 1944-46.
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Brian was named All-Southeastern Conference in basketball in 1942-43 and again in 1947 after returning from the war. He also participated in the 1943 SEC Track and Field Championships in four events.
After college, he went on to have a stellar professional basketball career, earning National Basketball League Rookie of the Year honors in 1948 for the Anderson Packers, NBL All-Star honors two times and was twice an NBA All-Star.
Brian played in both the 1955 and 1956 NBA championship series for the Fort Wayne Pistons and scored 6,663 points during a 10-year career.
In 1951 when the NBA played its first All-Star game in Boston Garden, Brian was a unanimous selection as a member of a Western Conference team that included other unanimous picks such as George Mikan, Ralph Beard, Bob Davies, Alex Groza, Vern Mikkelsen and Fred Schaus.
Brian scored 14 points in the game won by the Eastern Conference All-Stars 111-94 in front of a crowd of 10,094. The Eastern Conference team included legends such as Bob Cousy, Ed Macauley, Dolph Schayes and Paul Arizin.
In a 2014 story by Times-Picayune writer Jimmy Smith, Brian recounted how he was genuinely surprised to be selected to play in the game.
"I know this: When I first saw it, I'm sure it was in the paper and it surprised the life out of me and made me feel really good that other people felt like I could play at that level," Brian told Smith. "But other than that, I sure didn't want to be too much like I had the big head, you know. I was tickled to death to get to go. And you don't know who to thank, who is the main cog in this reason that you're going. But I took it because I was glad to get it.
"It's a really great honor. When you start thinking about one out of a hundred or 200 and they select you to come play, you know you've got to feel real good about it. You want to make a good showing, too. You want to prove you can play at that level.
"My highlight was playing with those boys I'd done everything I could to stop. Now, you were playing with them. That was the thing about it: You got to meet those boys you'd been playing against for so long."
Brian and the rest of his All-Star teammates earned a bonus for that first game: a $50 government bond.
But Brian also kept the white, Spalding canvas sneakers he wore in the game, as well as the blue game jersey, his white No. 13 surrounded by 10 red stars.

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