SPRINGFIELD, MA - 1999 :  Tom Gola poses for a portrait at the NBA Hall of Fame circa 1999 in Springfield, Massachusetts.   NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory copyright notice: Copyright NBAE 1999  (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images) Tom Gola was a legendary La Salle basketball player and coach, as well as an All-Star with the Philadelphia Warriors in the NBA.

Many know his name just from Gola Arena, home court of the La Salle Explorers men’s and women’s basketball teams.

But the man, a legendary player and coach who revolutionized the game, passed away at St. Joseph’s Manor on Hunting Pike Sunday afternoon at the age of 81.

 

Gola was the star of La Salle’s NIT and NCAA championship teams while with the Explorers. He set a NCAA career rebounding record that still stands today.

In the NBA, Gola was a respected defender, and at 6-foot-6, was the first player of his size to play every position on the floor.

He returned to La Salle for two seasons as head coach, leading the team to a 37-13 record during his time there (1968-69).

After basketball, Gola was elected to the Pennsylvania State House from the 170th district and then the city’s controller.

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