La Salle University retires jersey of local athlete

A local legend: Abraham Lincoln High School graduate Larry Cannon’s №20 jersey was retired on Dec. 6. Cannon, 69, played at La Salle from the 1966–67 to 1968–69 seasons, averaging 19.1 points.

La Salle University last week retired the jersey of former basketball great Larry Cannon, an Abraham Lincoln High School graduate.

Cannon’s №20 was retired at halftime of the Dec. 6 game against №1 and defending NCAA champion Villanova at the Palestra. The Explorers played their home games at Penn’s Palestra in Cannon’s era.

Cannon’s jersey will hang from the rafters of La Salle’s Gola Arena, along with those of Tom Gola, Lionel Simmons, Ken Durrett and Michael Brooks.

“I’d like to thank La Salle president Dr. Colleen Hanycz, the Board of Trustees and of course interim Director of Athletics Bill Bradshaw,” Cannon said. “The retirement of my La Salle uniform number is particularly meaningful. I’m a born-and-raised Philadelphian, and Big 5 basketball has always been a major influence on the way I played the game. I can’t find the words to express how proud I feel to be joining the elite company of Tom Gola, Ken Durrett, Lionel Simmons and Michael Brooks.”

Cannon, 69, played at La Salle from the 1966–67 to 1968–69 seasons, averaging 19.1 points. Freshmen did not play back then.

La Salle was 23–1 his senior year and ranked second, but ineligible for the NCAA Tournament due to rules violations by a previous coach. Durrett played on that 1969 team, which was coached by Gola, a Northeast resident who doubled as a state representative and was the winning Republican candidate for city controller that year.

Cannon, a guard, has previously been inducted into the Big 5 Hall of Fame and the La Salle Hall of Athletes, and has been recognized as one of the Atlantic 10 Legends.

After playing at La Salle, he was a first-round draft pick (fifth overall) of the NBA’s Chicago Bulls. He decided to play in the rival American Basketball Association.

In 1972, he was a member of the ABA-champion Indiana Pacers.

Cannon jumped to the NBA to play for the 76ers in the 1973–74 season, but was forced to retire after the season due to chronic phlebitis in his legs.

Among those at last week’s ceremony were Bradshaw; Simmons; Caroline Gola, Tom’s widow; Beverly Durrett, daughter of the late Ken Durrett; and Aleta Arthurs-Lee, whose brother, Michael Brooks, died in August.

“Larry was a great player on arguably the greatest team in La Salle and Big 5 basketball history,” Bradshaw said. “He was an exceptional talent and is one of just five players in La Salle history to have his jersey retired. The honor is very well deserved.” ••