STrib: Dick Garmaker, former Gophers All-America basketball star, dies at 87

BleedGopher

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per Rippel:


Dick Garmaker, a consensus All-America basketball player for the Gophers who went on to play six seasons in the NBA, died Saturday.

Garmaker, who lived in Tulsa, Okla., was 87.

As a senior in the 1954-55 season, the 6-foot-3 shooting guard/small forward averaged 24.2 points — the fourth-best single-season average in Gophers history — to earn first-team All-Big Ten and All-American honors. The Gophers, coached by Ozzie Cowles, were 15-7 overall and finished second in the Big Ten with a 10-4 conference record.

As a junior, his first season with the Gophers, averaged 21.6 points per game to become the first Gopher to score more than 400 points in a season. The Gophers, which included future NBA players Chuck Mencel and Ed Kalafat were 17-5 overall, 10-4 in the Big Ten (third place).

In his 44 games with the Gophers he scored 1,008 points. His average of 24.8 points per game in Big Ten Conference games is the best in program history.

He was selected as a territorial pick by the Minneapolis Lakers in the 1955 NBA draft. He spent 4½ seasons with the Lakers before being traded to the New York Knicks midway through the 1959-60 season. He retired after the 1960-61 season and returned to Minnesota to concentrate on his commercial real estate business.

He was a four-time (1957-60) NBA All-Star. He was named second-team All-NBA in 1957 after scoring 16.3 points per game. For his NBA career, he averaged 13.3 points per game. The Lakers reached the playoffs three times during his four full seasons with the team. He averaged 13.5 points per game in the playoffs.

Garmaker was born on Oct. 29, 1932 in Hibbing. He was a member of the Hibbing team that reached the state tournament in 1949. He played two seasons for Hibbing Community College before joining the Gophers.

Garmaker, who graduated from the U with a history degree, was named to the Gophers ‘M’ Club Hall of Fame in 1997 and his jersey number (53) was retired by the Gophers in 2011.

Garmaker relocated to Naples, Fla., in 1979. He moved to Oklahoma in 1990 to be closer to family.

He is survived by his wife Darlene and son Stuart. His son Steven died in 2015.


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BleedGopher

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Shama chimes in:

Condolences to the family and friends of former Gophers All-American and Minneapolis Lakers star Dick Garmaker, who recently passed away. Garmaker was one of the many natives of Hibbing, Minnesota who earned fame in sports, entertainment and politics. (Personal note: his wife Darlene was my seventh grade art teacher at Ramsey Junior High School in Minneapolis.)


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BleedGopher

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Sid chimes in:


Garmaker’s legacy

Hearing the news that former Gophers and Minneapolis Lakers great Dick Garmaker had died reminded me of how he went from being unrecruited out of Hibbing High School to one of the first great jump shooters in college basketball.

Garmaker was on the Hibbing team that won the consolation title at the 1949 state tournament, but he really blossomed as a player at Hibbing Junior College.

As a sophomore, in the 1951-52 season, he averaged more than 30 points per game and led Hibbing to a runner-up finish at the National JUCO tournament in Hutchinson, Kan. In the four games at the national tournament, he scored 128 points. After the tournament he was named to the JC All-America team.

Following the tournament, he was recruited by at least 10 schools, but he picked the Gophers. As a transfer, he had to sit out a season under the rules of the day.

In his two seasons with the Gophers, he led them in scoring in each season. He averaged 21.6 points per game as a junior on a 1953-54 team that included future NBA players Chuck Mencel and Ed Kalafat. As a senior, Garmaker averaged 24.2 points per game and was named an All-America along with Bill Russell, Sihugo Green, Tom Gola and Dick Ricketts.

The Lakers made Garmaker a territorial draft pick in 1955. He spent six seasons in the NBA, playing 4½ with the Lakers and parts of two seasons with the Knicks.

When the Lakers drafted Garmaker it was the same day that Jim Pollard told coach John Kundla he was leaving the NBA to coach college ball at La Salle.

Kundla was devastated by the news but knew it might happen. “He couldn’t help but take it. It was a tremendous opportunity for him,” Kundla told the Star Tribune about Pollard leaving. “We’re going to miss him. He might have had one more year left. He’s given us eight great years and I know he’ll do all right as a coach.”

Garmaker was a big part of trying to rebuild the Lakers on the fly, and the team would reach the 1958-59 NBA Finals with a roster featuring Garmaker, Elgin Baylor, Vern Mikkelsen, Larry Foust and Hot Rod Hundley. But they were swept out by the Boston Celtics, who featured Russell, Tom Heinsohn, Frank Ramsey, Bill Sharman, Bob Cousy and Sam Jones.

That was Russell’s third NBA season, and he averaged 29.5 rebounds per game in the finals. He was unstoppable.

Garmaker was traded in 1959 and he retired in 1961 to go into business. He made four NBA All-Star teams.


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