Syracuse legend Pearl Washington loses cancer battle at age 52

Dwayne “Pearl” Washington played just three seasons in the NBA, scoring 1,660 points in 194 career games from 1986-89 with the New Jersey Nets and the Miami Heat.

But he was a legend — a college legend.

“There was no better guy and there’s nobody who has meant more to our basketball program than Dwayne Washington,” said Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim.


Last summer, Washington was diagnosed with a brain tumor and he underwent surgery last year. His battle ended this week as he died surrounded by his family. He was 52.

The player whose nickname is in direct reference to the Hall of Famer of the same name, was a star at Syracuse after being the top-ranked prep prospect in the country. He was dominating in the Big East, averaging 15.7 points a game in his college career before he was taken with the 13th pick in the 1986 NBA Draft — a class that included Dennis Rodman, Jeff Hornacek, Mark Price and Dell Curry all drafted after him. 

Washington was a three-time All-American for Syracuse, helping put the school on the map with clutch shots and memorable play. His number is retired at the school, where he still ranks among the top five players in steals and assists.

On cardboard, there are very few options to collect — fewer than 20 cards. His lone Rookie Card is in the 1988-89 Fleer set. Along with a 1989-90 NBA Hoops release, those were his only regular-issue NBA card until Panini America added him into a pair of products with an autograph in 2013-14 Panini and a rainbow of six signed cards in 2014-15 Panini Prizm. (Oddly, that card does not show him, but Duane Washington, who also started with the Nets. The autograph is correct, though.)

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