Oldest Ex-NBA Player Stanley ‘Whitey’ Von Nieda Dies At 101


The oldest living former NBA player, Stanley “Whitey” Von Nieda, passed away at the age of 101 on Wednesday in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania. Von Nieda turned 100 on June 19, 2022.

For his 100th birthday, he received a certificate from the NBA Retired Players Association, recognizing his “legacy as the first former NBA player to reach 100 years of age.’’

Von Nieda will be remembered as the oldest ex-NBA player in history. “It’s hard right now,” Von Nieda’s wife, Arlene, said Thursday. “He meant a lot to a lot of people, and I heard from them so many times over the years.’’

His real name was Stanley. However, Von Nieda said in an interview last year that “nobody ever called me that.” The nickname referred to his natural blonde hair.

Von Nieda was born and raised in Ephrata, Pennsylvania. The 6-foot-1 guard/forward played basketball at Ephrata High School and Penn State University (1942-43).

While with Ephrata High School, he led the Mountaineers and all of Lancaster County in scoring in 1940. The Penn State product was a versatile basketball player.

“I could play either [guard or forward],” he recalled during an interview. “Sometimes I’d take my man down inside and hook it over him.”

Ex-paratrooper Stanley “Whitey” Von Nieda, the oldest living former NBA player, has died at the age of 101 in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania

Stanley “Whitey” Von Nieda also enlisted in the army during World War II. He attended the Fort Benning (now Fort Moore) paratrooper academy in Georgia and was part of the 17th Airborne Division that fought in the Battle of the Bulge.

As a basketball player at the paratrooper school, the Pennsylvania native led the service teams and country in scoring with 1,062 points in 44 games.

Following an honorable discharge in 1946, he played for the Lancaster Red Roses in the Eastern Basketball League (EBL), where he led the league in scoring, averaging more than 24 points per game.

Lancaster Online

He received a $2,000 signing bonus and earned approximately $14,000 per season, according to Lancaster Online’s Mike Gross. At the time, Von Neida was still a Penn State student.

In 1947, he began playing for the Tri-Cities Blackhawks (now Atlanta Hawks) in the National Basketball League (NBL). The team was based in Moline, Illinois. Von Nieda made the All-Rookie team, averaging 12 points a game. The Blackhawks reached the final round of the playoffs in both of the years he played there.

After a merger between the NBL and the Basketball Association of America, the NBA had its inaugural 1949-50 season. He scored 14 points in the Tri-Cities Blackhawks vs. Denver Nuggets matchup on Oct. 29, 1949, the first post-merger NBA regular-season game.

Von Nieda’s professional playing career with the Baltimore Bullets, coaching career

On Jan. 13, 1950, his player rights were traded to the Baltimore Bullets (now Washington Wizards). Von Nieda appeared in every game with Baltimore in the 1949-50 season, playing both point guard and shooting guard.

In Baltimore’s 79-75 win over the Boston Celtics on March 11, 1950, the guard recorded an NBA career-high 15 points. At 27 years old, he made six field goals and shot 3-of-4 (75%) at the foul line.

An eye injury ended his NBA career with the Bullets. During the 1950 offseason, he accepted a head coaching job at Elizabethtown College. After three seasons, he finished 27-18 as head coach in 1952.

Furthermore, Von Nieda then went on to serve as the head coach of the Lancaster Red Roses (1950-53). He served as the team’s player/coach, helping the Red Roses advance to the finals three of the four years.

Von Nieda was selected to the All-EPBL Second Team in 1951. Nonetheless, his player stats are not available on Basketball Reference. The former NBA player coached the Hazleton Hawks in the 1961-62 season as well.

In 1985, he coached Lancaster in the Continental League. His team once again reached the finals. Von Nieda also participated in Ephrata High School alumni games, an activity he continued well into his 60s.

May the oldest living former NBA player rest in peace.

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