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Duke legend Art Heyman dies at 71


Mike Miller

Art Heyman could do it all on a basketball court. Score. Rebound. Ignite a rivalry. You name it, the Duke legend did it while taking the Blue Devils into national prominence.

Heyman died Monday, per Duke’s official Twitter account. He was 71.

The 6-foot-5 Heyman was a star during his three seasons in Durham (freshman weren’t allowed to play back then) and was named the national player of the year as a senior in 1963. Heyman led the Devils to their first Final Four that season and was MOP of the Final Four despite Loyola winning the title vs. Cincinnati.

He never averaged fewer than 24.9 points per season and is still the school’s record holder for career points per game (25.1). He, David Thompson and Tyler Hansbrough are the only three players to earn unanimous All-ACC selections.

But it was his altercation with Larry Brown during the 1961 game against North Carolina that will go down as his most famous moment. The NYC native (recruited by then-coach Vic Bubas to help Duke compete against UNC and its pipeline of NYC-area players snagged by Frank McGuire) got tangled up with Brown, a UNC guard and this ensued:

Heyman later played six seasons in the NBA and ABA, retiring in 1970. He worked in the restaurant business after that, staying in the New York area.

So let’s recap: Heyman was the fuse that ignited Duke’s hoops success, was a scoring machine, reached a Final Four and slugged Larry Brown? Yeah, I’d call him a legend.

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.