If Joel Przybilla is known as "The Vanilla Gorilla" then this week's player may have just been able to be known as "The Guarilia."  In this week's episode of What the Hell Happened To, we remember Gene Guarilia.

Gene was a 6'5 forward picked 14th overall in the 1959 draft (that would be considered the second round, pick #8 back then) out of George Washington University.

In December 1959 Boston placed Guarilia on its farm out list to trim their roster to the required 10 player limit (see they always wanted a D-League!)  [Tangent time: imagine the NBA rosters were kept at 10 instead of 12 and eventually 15?  And imagine if NBA teams never expanded from 8 to 30?  WTHHT would be screwed big-time and would likely not even exist.  Sort of like when Marty McFly goes back and George and Lorraine may not meet each other and his image from his picture begins to vanish.  Classic movie  Speaking of which, Marty really could play the guitar.  Foreshadowing at its best].

He'd play for the Celtics from 1960 to 1963, collecting 4 championship rings along the way.  Just like John Bach mentioned a few weeks back, shooting percentages really weren't cared about back then.  Look at Gene from the field and free throw line a few of those seasons!  He made Rondo look like Mark Price at the stripe (sort-of).

Apparently Gene had a Glenn McDonald-like moment during the 1962 Finals vs the Flakers.  According to Wikipedia, "in the final moments of regulation time, in the decisive seventh game, he stopped Elgin Baylor. The Celtics went on to win the game in overtime."  There's no elaboration on this.  Did he block Baylor's shot?  Did he steal the ball?  Or did he just flat-out stop him with lock-down defense?

After his playing career, Gene returned to Duryea High School to teach and coach.  Today Duryea is known as Pittston HS.

I can play the gee-tar better than Marty McFly!
Today Gene is the leader of The Cadillacs Band,  which as you can see from their site, is a very popular cover band in Pennsylvania that covers everything from Elvis to Pink Floyd.  No word on whether him and Dontae' Jones might consider a duet of some sort, them being our two musically inclined WTHHT stars.  Gene sings and plays bass guitar.  And as you can see from their robust song list, they play it all!

For a complete list of the "What the Hell Happened To" Series please click here.

tb727 6/07/2011 12:01:00 AM Edit
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4 Responses so far.

  1. CLNS_Nick says:

    Gene is my neighbor. I see him often. He has shown me his championship rings and shared stories about Red with me. I am so thrilled you guys have honored him and will link to this story on CLNSRadio.

    Good work!

  2. tb727 says:

    Thanks CLNS_Nick! Gene sounds like a terrific guy, hope he likes the article.

    Maybe he can even fill us in as to what exactly happened in Game 7 of the '62 Finals when he locked down Elgin Baylor down the stretch!!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Mr. Guarilia is the best! He was my high school teacher, and a colleague of my Dad's. They would play cards in our basement, and my brother and I would sit on the steps after bedtime to hear "Gene the Giant" tell stories about playing basketball for the Celtics. He's a great guy. He and the Cadillacs played at my wedding a few years ago. My folks and I still stop and see him every so often.

  4. Glen Jiohnston says:

    Gene Guarilia is the only player in NBA history to play as many as four years in the league, and win a championship every year. In the seventh game of the NBA Finals Elgin Baylor had basically fouled out all the Celtics forwards. With four minutes remaining in overtime, Frank ramsey fouled out and Red Auerbach called on Gene to defend Baylor. He held Elgin scoreless and the Celtics won 110 - 107. After the game, Bill Russell (Who played all 53 minutes, scoring 30 points and grabbing 40 rebounds) told reporters to go talk to Guarilia. "He's the kid who won it for us" said Big Bill. No wonder Bill Russell is regarded by many as the greatest TEAMMATE ever !

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