NEW YORK — Dean Meminger, 65, a speedy guard and tenacious defender who honed his basketball style in Harlem playgrounds and went on to play for the New York Knicks’ 1973 NBA title team, was pronounced dead Friday in a hotel room in upper Manhattan.
The police said staff members at the Casablanca Hotel had discovered Mr. Meminger unconscious and that emergency medical personnel pronounced him dead. Police said there were no signs of trauma.
Mr. Meminger had long battled an addiction to cocaine and had acknowledged using drugs as far back as his NBA days, when he was among a glamorous cast of Knicks in the franchise’s glory years.
Al McGuire, Mr. Meminger’s coach at Marquette, once said he was “quicker than 11:15 Mass at a seaside resort.”
At 6-feet-1 and 175 pounds, he may have seemed overmatched, but he was a whirlwind dribbling upcourt, a superb defensive player, and a clever ball handler with fine court sense.
His most memorable moments came in Game 7 of the 1973 Eastern Conference finals when he replaced Monroe in the second quarter, frustrated hot-shooting Boston Celtics’ guard Jo Jo White and scored 13 points. After knocking the Celtics out, the Knicks beat the Los Angeles Lakers for the title.