Former NBA player Dwayne “Pearl” Washington passed away today from complications of a brain tumor. He was only 52 years old. He played for the Nets and Heat, and attended college at Syracuse, where his flashy play and memorable moments made him a beloved figure.
Born on January 6, 1964 in Brooklyn, Washington earned the nickname of “Pearl” by reminding people of Earl “The Pearl” Monroe with his slick play. “I’d try to get tickets for his games,” said Washington of the elder Pearl, in this 1984 New York Times article, “but usually they were sold out. I wish I knew him then like I know him now because he could have gotten me tickets.”
While at Syracuse, Washington etched himself into the memories of Big East fans with a miracle buzzer beater against Boston College, preserving a perfect season…
He’d end up averaging 15.7 points per game during his All-American career at Syracuse, and would be drafted by the New Jersey Nets with the 13th pick in the 1986 NBA Draft. After two years with the Nets, he was scooped up by the Miami Heat in the expansion draft, and was their leading scorer in their first game in franchise history, with 16 points off the bench. He was released after the season, and his NBA career was over after three years.
Although he didn’t find the same individual success in the NBA that he did in college, Pearl Washington is remembered fondly. The Big East of the 80s featured some of the best basketball you could find, and that’s where he excelled. Sometimes all it takes is a flash in the pan or a miracle buzzer beater to achieve basketball immortality, and Dwayne “Pearl” Washington certainly accomplished that.
He will be missed.