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Andy Phillip's career statistics

Friday, May 4, 2001
Phillip: first player with 500 assists in a season
Associated Press

GRANITE CITY, Ill. – Andy Phillip, a Hall of Famer who was an All-American at Illinois and was the first NBA player to record 500 assists in a season, has died. He was 79.

Phillip died Saturday at his home in Rancho Mirage, Calif. The cause of death was not available.

Fri, May 4
First paragraph here. Andy was a wonderful human being; a real solid, salt of the earth kind of guy. He was a great team player, first during his outstanding college career at Illinois as member of the Whiz Kids. Later, Andy shone in an outstanding NBA career with several great teams, playing on Boston's 1956-57 championship team. He could pass and score and he played a seamless game within the team structure. You hardly noticed he was on the court until he made a scoring pass or knocked down a shot. No one who associated with Andy Phillip would have ever said a bad word about him.

Phillip was the playmaker on Illinois' "Whiz Kids" teams in the early 1940s. The Illini won the Big Ten title in 1941 and 1942, going 35-6 in the two seasons.

Phillip was known for his quick hands and uncanny passing ability. He often was compared to Bob Cousy and Dick McGuire as the era's best playmakers.

He started his NBA career with the Chicago Stags from 1947-50. He was an All-Star five times in 11 seasons. His 500 assists came in 1952 while playing for both the Philadelphia Warriors and Fort Wayne Pistons.

In 1956, Boston coach Red Auerbach persuaded Phillip not to retire, and he helped the Celtics to their first of 16 championships, in 1957.

"His greatest value to the team was his ability to make everybody better. He always looked for the pass. He was always looking for the open man," remembered Ed Macauley, who played with Phillip in the 1951 NBA All Star Game.

Phillip was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1961.

Survivors include his wife Maria, son Steven and brother Robert.

His funeral will be held Saturday at Holy Family Catholic Church in Granite City.

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