Saluki legend dies at 88

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By Evan Jones, @EvanJones_DE

Former SIU men’s basketball coach Harry Gallatin died at the age of 88 Wednesday.

In his four years — 1959 to 1962 — as head basketball coach at SIU, Gallatin led the Salukis to three small-college NCAA tournaments with a 79-35 record. Gallatin was inducted into the SIU Hall of Fame in 2015.

Gallatin played for the New York Knicks from 1948-1957 and the Detroit Pistons from 1957-1958.

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He was selected to seven NBA All-Star games, including the first one ever. In his nine years with New York, he played in 610 consecutive games — a record that still stands in the organization. 

“The thing I’m most proud of whenever people talk about consecutive streaks is this,” Gallatin said in a 2002 interview with NBA.com. “My mother isn’t alive now, but she probably could have told you that I didn’t miss a game or a practice in grade school, in junior high school, in high school … didn’t miss a game or a practice all the way through my basketball career, and that includes the playoffs. So when I say my prayers, I thank God for the health that I’ve enjoyed. I don’t know of anybody else who hadn’t missed a practice or a game in their entire basketball career. I really feel proud about that.”

When Gallatin was inducted, he said he, his wife and three sons wanted a different lifestyle. 

“[Carbondale] is a special place for me,” Gallatin said. “I didn’t have any coaching experience. … I came here just as a player, an old, beaten up, tenured NBA player.”

Gallatin led the Salukis to three 20-win seasons before a five-year coaching stint in the NBA. After that, he became the first athletic director and men’s basketball coach at SIU-Edwardsville in 1967. He also led SIUE’s men’s golf program to 18 NCAA Division II championship appearances. He was inducted into SIUE’s athletic Hall of Fame in 2005.

Evan Jones can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @EvanJones_DE 

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