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Tom Gola
Position(s) Guard/Forward
Jersey #(s) 15, 6
Born January 13, 1933 (1933-01-13) (age 77)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Career information
Year(s) 1955–1966
NBA Draft 1955 / Round: n/a / Pick: territorial
College La Salle
Professional team(s)
Career stats (NBA)
RPG     8.0
APG     4.2
Rebounds     5,617
Stats @
Career highlights and awards
Basketball Hall of Fame as player
Tom Gola

Member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives
from the 170th district
In office
January 7, 1969 – January 6, 1970
Preceded by District Created
Succeeded by Alvin Katz

In office
January 6, 1970[1] – January, 1974
Preceded by Alexander Hemphill
Succeeded by William G. Klenk[2]

Born Philadelphia, PA
Political party Republican
Alma mater La Salle University

Thomas (Tom) Joseph Gola (born January 13, 1933, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) is a retired American basketball player.

Gola was praised as a great all-around player as a high school student at La Salle College High School, where he led the Explorers to a Philadelphia Catholic League Championship. He entered La Salle a year after another Philadelphia NBA hall of famer, Paul Arizin, graduated from Villanova. Gola came to national attention while playing for the hometown La Salle University Explorers men's basketball team in 1954 as an All-American forward. At 6'6" (198 cm), Gola was clearly a forward who could shoot/score, rebound and defend, but he also had the ballhandling (dribbling, passing) skills of a guard, and with his shooting range and All-Pro defensive skills, could play just as well in the backcourt.

After a phenomenal college career, Gola turned pro with the Philadelphia Warriors as a territorial draft pick. He teamed with All-Pros Paul Arizin and Neil Johnston to lead the Warriors to NBA championship in 1956. He gained praise for concentrating on defense, passing and rebounding and allowing the other two to be the chief scorers during these years.

Gola was married to Caroline in June 1955, and they had one son. Tom Sr. served in the military from 1956 to 1958.

In 1959, Johnston temporarily retired due to a knee injury and the Warriors added seven-foot superstar Wilt Chamberlain. Again sacrificing himself for his team, Gola helped the Warriors back to the NBA Finals, but they could not beat the star-studded Boston Celtics during his seasons in the early 1960s with Chamberlain.

Gola played with the New York Knicks from 1962 to 1966.

Gola was listed on "ESPN's Countdown to the Greatest" College basketball players as #17.

In 1968, he returned to his alma mater as head coach, leading the Explorers to a 37-13 record during his two-year stay. He was named Coach of the Year by Philadelphia and New York journalists. He led the Explorers to a 23-1 record during the 1968-69 season, but La Salle had been barred from the NCAA Tournament before the season because an alumnus had offered some players "no-show" jobs. The school's Tom Gola Arena was named after him.

He was enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame on April 26, 1976.

After his retirement from basketball, Gola served in the Pennsylvania State Legislature, followed by a stint as Philadelphia City Controller. He ran for Mayor of Philadelphia in 1983[3], but came in third in the contested Republican primary election in the spring.


College basketball achievements

  • All-District player (four times, 1952–55)
  • All-State player (four times, 1952–55)
  • All-America selection (four times, 1952–55)
  • Consensus All-American (three times, 1953–55)
  • NIT Championship, NIT Co-MVP (1952)
  • First alternate to US Olympic Basketball Team (1952)
  • NCAA Championship, NCAA Tournament MVP (1954)
  • College Basketball Player of the Year (1954)
  • NCAA all-time rebounding leader (2,201)
  • 2,462 points
  • 102-19 (.843) won-lost record
  • #15 retired by La Salle

Pro basketball achievements

  • NBA championship (1956)
  • All-NBA second team (1958)
  • 5-time NBA all-star (1960–1964)
  • One of only two players to win NCAA, NIT & NBA championships
  • Elected to Basketball Hall of Fame (1976)
  • Madison Square Garden Hall of Fame

See also


External links

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
B. H. Born
NCAA Basketball Tournament
Most Outstanding Player

Succeeded by
Bill Russell
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Preceded by
District Created
Member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives for the 170th District
Succeeded by
Alvin Katz
Political offices
Preceded by
Alexander Hemphill
Philadelphia City Controller
Succeeded by
William G. Klenk


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