Sadly, Dwayne “Pearl” Washington has passed away. As a Syracuse Orange fan from birth and one who remembers the early days of Louie and Bouie, there is no doubt that The Pearl was the most important player in converting Syracuse from an interesting regional team to a national power. Hey, just ask Jim Boeheim. Although he was from New York City, only several hours from campus, Pearl was a major recruit and promised to bring great things to Syracuse before leaving.
Indeed, he was interviewed during halftime of a Syracuse game and indicated as much. It did not take long to fulfill that promise:
Yes, one of the greatest moments in Syracuse basketball history. Unreal at the time. Unreal today.
In today’s world, words can be meaningless. It can be said that Pearl had an amazing crossover. But you have seen a few other ridiculous ball-handlers since Pearl too. It can be said that Pearl was one of the few players in college basketball who could take on Georgetown and Patrick Ewing–and you would be right. But, for many, Ewing is a distant memory too–a good to great NBA player, but forgetting how dominant he was in college.
If only his skill could be described. For any generation, and certainly today’s generation, it would be better to just give you a video. And ask yourself if you can find players doing these Pearl things BEFORE did them. Good luck with that. Anyway, enjoy the video:
As you can see, amazing things with the basketball. And that does not do justice to his skill set and demonstration of it game after game. There were few games where Pearl was not dominant–if not scoring, then by dishing the ball. He certainly made his teammates better– a great compliment.
Pearl will always be remembered by Syracuse fans that were old enough to see him live. He will be remembered as a “one of a kind.” He will also be remembered as a great ambassador for the program after his career ended. Really, it is hard to come up with too many negatives about Pearl. He was a legend, more than worthy of being called “The Pearl.”
Nationally, he was a player that fueled the Syracuse-Georgetown rivalry that helped popularize the Big East and even ESPN. We might not have ESPN2, much less ESPN3, without those early catalysts from the Big East. Not a bad legacy. Although his NBA career was surprisingly underwhelming, Pearl is… sadly, was… one of those great college legends that simply never made it professionally (just like most Heisman Trophy winning quarterbacks, in fact).
As you get older, you will find that the age where you say “that man was too young to die” gets increasingly older. But perhaps there is little dispute that 52 is too young to die. And it certainly is. But Pearl used but a few of those 52 years to create eons worth of memories.
On behalf of all college basketball fans, and certainly Syracuse fans, the passing of Dwayne “Pearl” Washington is a reason to mourn. And remember.