Former Tide Basketball Great Dies

One of Alabama's finest all-time basketball players and the first Crimson Tide player drafted by the NBA, Paul Sullivan, died after a long illness Wednesday.

Paul Sullivan, a 6-7 center from Northport, was a three-year starter for the Alabama basketball team under Coach Floyd Burdette, 1950-52. His was the final class before Johnny Dee arrived the following year with what would evolve into the powerful Rocket 8 Bama teams.

Following his Alabama career, in which he was a two-time All-Southeastern Conference honoree, Sullivan was drafted by the New York Knicks. He was the first Alabama player drafted by an NBA team. However, he elected to forego living in New York and a pro basketball career and instead headed for a career as an oil company executive. He was helped in that career move by being able to play for the Phillips 66 Oilers, one of the fine semipro basketball teams of that era.

As a senior at Alabama he led the Tide in both scoring and rebounding, averaging 18.2 points and 12.9 rebounds per game.

Upon retirement, he returned to Tuscaloosa. He was active in the Tuscaloosa Tip-Off Club, serving as its president. As long as his health permitted, he was a regular at Alabama basketball games, sitting courtside. Last year he was honored with recognition at a Crimson Tide game.

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