Ernie DiGregorio burst onto the scene in the NBA in 1973, and he was gone almost as fast.
For basketball fans outside of New England, DiGregorio’s rise to immediate stardom as a rookie with the Buffalo Braves came as a shock. The diminutive point guard out of Providence College led the NBA in assists and free throw percentage in 1973-74, justifying the Braves’ decision to draft him with the No. 3 overall pick.
Within New England, DiGregorio was already a cult hero. The Rhode Island native helped North Providence High School win the state championship in 1968 and went on to earn NCAA All-America honors in 1973 for the Friars. He kept dishing dimes as a pro, handing out a rookie record 25 assists in one game on New Year’s Day in 1974. Injuries brought a premature end to DiGregorio’s career, and by 1978, after a 27-game stint with the Celtics, he was out of the NBA.
Check out Hall of Famers Jack Ramsay and Bob McAdoo talk about DiGregorio in the video below.