The greatest player in the storied history of Temple basketball has died. Two-time college All-American and four-time NBA All-Star Guy Rodgers passed away on Monday night in Los Angeles.
According to a hospital spokesperson, Mr. Rodgers, 65, felt ill while attending a movie. He left the theater and was taken to Midway Hospital where he complained of chest pains. He was later pronounced dead at 8:26 p.m., local time.
Mr. Rodgers, a 1954 Northeast High School graduate, is widely considered the best guard that Philadelphia ever produced. He was Temple’s first inductee into the Big Five Hall of Fame. His skill at ball-handling and passing influenced the progress of basketball in the 1950’s, edging it toward the fast-paced game of today.
From 1955 to 1958, he led Owls to a remarkable 74-16 record, including two trips to the Final Four, and stands third all-time on Temple’s scoring list behind Mark Macon and Terrence Stansbury.
Temple coach and Ben Franklin High School product John Chaney remembers the days when he and Rodgers would play at local playgrounds and how good Rodgers was.
“He’d always want guys to play him fullcourt one-on-one; I wouldn’t do it, because I didn’t want to get beat up the floor every time. I’d play him halfcourt.” Chaney told the Daily News. “He was fast, but basketball isn’t a game just for the fast; it’s not a track meet.
“Guy could engage and disengage the clutch, leave you standing there as he went by. Allen Iverson has some of that same ability going north and south, but Guy would also go east and west on you. People called him ‘tricky.’ That was the word they used back then.”
Mr. Rodgers was named Big Five player of the year each of his three varsity seasons at Temple. He was drafted in the first round of the 1958 NBA Draft by the Philadelphia Warriors, where he spent his early years as Wilt Chamberlain’s point guard.
Mr. Rodgers played eight years for the Warriors, four in Philadelphia and four in San Francisco. Mr. Rodgers made career stops with the Chicago Bulls, the Cincinnati Royals, and the Milwaukee Bucks before his retirement from the NBA in 1970.
Mr. Rodgers scored over 10,000 points in the NBA and led the league in assists twice in his career.
Mr. Rodgers is survived by two sons, Tony and Mark, and a daughter, Nicole. His jersey number still hangs above the rafters today in McGonigal Hall.
Temple will hold a special tribute to Rodgers at Saturday’s game against Dayton.