World War II veteran, ex-NBA forward dies of illness


nbrpa-logoThe NBRPA issued a statement, expressing condolences regarding the passing of former BAA and NBA forward James Dillard Crocker.

Crocker died Sept. 1, 2014 at Lakeland Community Hospital in Niles following a brief illness.

He was a member of the 1942 State Championship Basketball Team from Niles High School, and was the high scorer at the state tournament. After graduation, he joined the U.S. Army, served 2 tours of duty, and was discharged as a Corporal, and a Veteran of World War II.

Crocker played college basketball at Michigan Education College. He began playing professionally with the Fort Wayne Pistons of the BAA (Basketball Association of America).

In 1949 he moved to the Denver Nuggets where he averaged 13.6 points per game. He also played with the Indianapolis Olympians and the Milwaukee Hawks.

Crocker was the high scorer on the 1942 Michigan State Championship Basketball Team from Niles High School. After graduating, he joined the Army and served in two tours as a Corporal, and a Veteran of World War II.

Crocker played a total of 152 games in the NBA, averaging 8.9 ppg.

After retirement from basketball, he purchased the former Kretchman Sheet Metal Shop which he owned and operated as Crocker Sheet Metal and Heating. He later worked for a few years at the former Thorton’s before retiring from Niles Chemical Paint as a consultant.

Crocker is survived by his son, daughter, eight grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren; a brother, Clifford Crocker, as well as many nieces and nephews.


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