Alex Hannum

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Alex Hannum

Alex Hannum 1969

Alex Hannum
Player information
Full name Alexander Murray Hannum
Nickname The Sarge
Birthday 19. July 1923
Birthplace Los Angeles, California, United States
Date of death 18. January 2002 (at the age of 78 years and 183 days)
Place of death San Diego, California, United States
Size 6′ 7″ (2,01 m)
Position Power Forward / Center
High School Alexander Hamilton (Los Angeles, California)
College University of Southern California 1942-1943, 1946-1948
NBA Draft NBA Draft 1948 Indianapolis Jets
Active clubs
1948-1949 United StatesVereinigte Staaten Oshkosh All-Stars
1949-1951 United StatesVereinigte Staaten Syracuse Nationals
1951-1952 UnitedStatesVereinigte Staaten Baltimore Bullets
1952-1954 UnitedStatesVereinigte Staaten Rochester Royals
1954-1955 United StatesVereinigte Staaten Milwaukee Hawks
195500000 UnitedStatesVereinigte Staaten Fort Wayne Pistons
1955-1957 UnitedStatesVereinigte Staaten St. Louis Hawks
Clubs as trainers
1956-1958 United StatesVereinigte Staaten St. Louis Hawks (NBA title 1958)
1958-1959 United StatesVereinigte Staaten Wichita Vickers (AAU title 1959)
1960-1963 United StatesVereinigte Staaten Syracuse Nationals
1963-1966 United StatesVereinigte Staaten San Francisco Warriors
1966-1968 UnitedStatesVereinigte Staaten Philadelphia 76ers (NBA title 1967)
1968-1969 United StatesVereinigte Staaten Oakland Oaks (ABA title 1969)
1969-1971 United StatesVereinigte Staaten San Diego Rockets
1971-1974 United StatesVereinigte Staaten Denver Rockets

Alexander Murray Hannum (born July 19, 1923 in Los Angeles, California; † January 18, 2002 in San Diego, California) was an American basketball player and coach. Hannum was a two-time head coach of the NBA All-Star Game, 1964 Coach of the Year, and won two NBA championships. Only Phil Jackson, besides Hannum, managed to win the NBA title with two different franchises. Hannum was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a coach on October 2, 1998.

Life and career

Hannum played three years for the University of Southern California Trojans between 1942 and 1948, interrupted by his military service during World War II in the U.S. Army, which would earn him the nickname “The Sarge”. He was last captain of the Trojans and was named to the Conference selection team in his senior year.[1]

Hannum played one season in Wisconsin for the Oshkosh All-Stars in the National Basketball League (NBL) after college. From 1949 he played exclusively in the National Basketball Association (NBA) and went to the Syracuse Nationals for two years, in the 1951/52 season to the Baltimore Bullets and then to the Rochester Royals for two years.

The league wasn’t particularly professional in the early years, and Hannum, a mediocre basketball player, primarily enjoyed camaraderie and roaming the community after games. The owners of the franchises were similarly unpredictable. Ben Kerner, the owner of the Milwaukee Hawks acquired the rights to Hannum mid-season and paid him in daily installments. The player Hannum was to replace gave him his unwashed uniform and informed him that he would have to wash it himself from then on. The next season, Hannum went to the Fort Wayne Pistons, but was released and returned to the Hawks, who had since moved to St. Louis.

Kerner fired coaches annually, and had just fired Red Holzman and made Hall of Famer Slater Martin the player-coach in his place. Martin, however, preferred to play and therefore assigned Hannum, who spent most of his time on the bench anyway, duties such as taking timeouts or making substitutions. In an away game without the absent Kerner, he finally handed over all the duties to Hannum. As it turned out, Hannum was a natural: he had a nose for different levels of play, knew what actions to take in critical situations, and could motivate and lead players. After he, as a player-coach in 1957, had thrown the fruitless last pass to Bob Pettit himself in the seventh game of the finals, he managed to beat the Boston Celtics in the finals in 1958 as a full-time coach.[2]

After the NBA championship, Hannum went to the National Industrial Basketball League for a year with the Vickers Petroleum Company’s factory team, the Wichita Vickers, and won the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) title. Between 1960 and 1966, he coached the Syracuse Nationals and the San Francisco Warriors. It was here, in his (not smooth) association with Wilt Chamberlain as the only serious rival to Celtics coach Red Auerbach and exceptional player Bill Russell, that Hannum was to make his greatest mark on 1960s basketball. After hardball arguments between Coach and Chamberlain, the two met again in Philadelphia and were not to regret it. For only Hannum’s championships in 1958 with the Hawks and 1967 with the Philadelphia 76ers, for whom he himself had once played at Syracuse, broke the Celtics’ streak of championships between 1957 and 1969. Shortly before his death, Hannum called the ’67 76ers the best team of all time including the Dream Teams.[3]

A year after his last NBA championship, Hannum signed on with the American Basketball Association (ABA) and led the Oakland Oaks to a championship, becoming the first coach to win a championship in both leagues. He then coached the San Diego Rockets’ NBA expansion team for two years and then the ABA’s other Rockets, the Denver Rockets, for three years. Denver took the name of a former NBA franchise from Denver shortly before the ABA-NBA merger with the Nuggets, while the San Diego Rockets, now based in Houston, kept their name.


  • NBA Coach of the Year Award 1964
  • ABA Coach of the Year 1969

See also

  • List of members of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame

Web links

  • Alex Hannum in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. On: Hoophall website; Springfield, MA, 2017. Retrieved 22 October 2017 (in English).

Individual references

  1. Fernando Dominguez Alex Hannum, 78; Took 2 NBA Teams to Titles. On: Los Angeles Times website; Los Angeles, CA, January 20, 2002. Retrieved October 22, 2017 (in English).
  2. John Taylor: The Rivalry: Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, and the Golden Age of Basketball. New York, 2005: Random House, Inc. ISBN 978-1-58836-496-8.
  3. Gerald Eskenazi Alex Hannum, 78, Won Titles As Coach in Two Pro Leagues. From: New York Times website; New York City, January 22, 2002. Retrieved October 22, 2017 (in English).