The Life of Tom GolaDavid Grzybowski
Foreword by Bill Raftery
Tom Gola is a Philadelphia Big Five basketball icon who led La Salle College to the National Invitation Tournament championship in 1952 and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) championship in 1954 and holds the NCAA record for most rebounds in a career. He helped the Philadelphia Warriors win the National Basketball Association (NBA) championship as a rookie in 1956 and was named an All-Star five times before retiring in 1966. But Gola also had many amazing successes as a coach; his La Salle Explorer teams were an important part of the national collegiate basketball landscape. In 1976, Gola was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Transitioning from the NBA to politics, Gola served as Pennsylvania state representative and then Philadelphia city controller. His dedication to public service included a joint campaign with politician Arlen Specter that revolutionized political marketing in Philadelphia.
In this definitive biography, reporter David Grzybowski draws on not only his exclusive 2013 interviews with Gola but also anecdotes by such legends of Philadelphia and basketball history as John Chaney, Fran Dunphy, and Lionel Simmons. Mr. All-Around is a heartfelt testament to the life, career, and legacy of one of Philadelphia’s most beloved sports legends.
“ For a player from the 1950s and 1960s, Tom Gola was dramatically ahead of his time. He could pass, rebound, and score. Of most significance, he had the ability to make his teammates better players. At La Salle College and in his NBA days, he had the smartest basketball mind of his era, winning championships at every level of the sport. And all this was followed by a successful second career in politics. His amazing life is beautifully captured by David Grzybowski in the aptly titled Mr. All-Around.”
—Marv Albert, Basketball Hall of Fame Broadcaster
“ Tom Gola’s service and devotion to Philadelphia always impressed allies and opponents on the court, on the campaign trail, and in office. My fellow La Salle College graduates and Philadelphians may know Gola best for his athletic career, but I enjoyed David Grzybowski’s Mr. All-Around for its coverage of Gola's notable career in Philadelphia politics as well. Gola, who grew up in Philadelphia, was a family man, a soldier in the army, a business owner, and a local politician. Gleaning from personal interviews with Gola and the folks who knew him best, Grzybowski recounts each aspect of his life with heart and enthusiasm.”
—Mayor Jim Kenney (La Salle College, 1980)
“ Tom Gola was, literally and figuratively, a towering figure in the sport of basketball. With accounts of achievements beyond the court that also loom large, this biography is well worth reading. David Grzybowski has done an outstanding job of capturing both the talents and the character of this unique and important figure in sports history. Whether you’re a native of Philly, a basketball enthusiast, or a fan of captivating history and interesting individuals, Mr. All-Around is the book for you.”
—Seth Davis, College Basketball Reporter, CBS Sports and The Athletic
"Basketball fans will certainly find much to enjoy in David Grzybowski's Mr. All-Around , a long overdue biography of this Pennsylvania hoops icon." — Pennsylvania Heritage
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