Tom Meschery
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Tom Meschery

Tom Meschery
Tom Meschery.png
Personal information
Born (1938-09-08) September 8, 1938 (age 81)
Harbin, Manchukuo
NationalityRussian / American
Listed height6 ft 6 in (1.98 m)
Listed weight215 lb (98 kg)
Career information
High schoolLowell (San Francisco, California)
CollegeSaint Mary's (1958-1961)
NBA draft1961 / Round: 1 / Pick: 7th overall
Selected by the Philadelphia Warriors
Playing career1961-1971
PositionPower forward
Coaching career1971-1972, 1974-1976
Career history
As player:
1961-1967Philadelphia/San Francisco Warriors
1967-1971Seattle SuperSonics
As coach:
1971-1972Carolina Cougars
1974-1976Portland Trail Blazers (assistant)
Career highlights and awards
Career NBA statistics
Points9,904 (12.7 ppg)
Rebounds6,698 (8.6 rpg)
Assists1,331 (1.7 apg)
Stats at

Thomas Nicholas Meschery (born Tomislav Nikolayevich Meshcheryakov (Russian: ? ); October 26, 1938)[1] is a Russian American former professional basketball player. He was a power forward with a 10-year National Basketball Association career from 1961 to 1971. He played for the Philadelphia/San Francisco Warriors and the Seattle SuperSonics. He led the league in personal fouls in 1962 and played in the 1963 NBA All-Star Game. His jersey, number 14, was retired by the Warriors.

Early years

Meschery was born as Tomislav Nikolayevich Meshcheryakov in Harbin, Manchukuo. His parents were Russian emigrants who fled from the October Revolution in 1917.[2] The Meschery family was later relocated to a Japanese internment camp near Tokyo during World War II.[3]

After the war, Meschery and his parents emigrated to the United States. It was also in this phase of his life where his father renamed the family "Meschery" due to the anti-Communist/anti-Soviet Red Scare under Joseph McCarthy, and Tomislav Nikolayevich was renamed Thomas Nicholas, which later was abbreviated to Tom.[1] Living in San Francisco, California, Meschery attended Lowell High School.

After graduating in 1957, he went to Saint Mary's College of California in Moraga. Meschery helped Saint Mary's reach the NCAA Tournament's Elite Eight in 1959. Two years later, he was chosen as a First Team All-American, and was named the West Coast Conference Player of the Year.[2] He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1961.

Professional basketball career

Standing 6 ft 6 in, Meschery also was a highly talented basketball player. After graduating from St. Mary's, he was drafted by the Philadelphia Warriors as the 7th pick overall in the 1961 NBA draft. Meschery played alongside legend Wilt Chamberlain, to whom he later dedicated a poem. Meschery was the starting forward on the 1961-62 Philadelphia Warriors team in which Chamberlain scored 100 points. Meschery led the NBA in personal fouls in 1962[4] and he became the first foreign born player to play in an NBA All-Star Game when he played in the 1963 NBA All-Star Game.[2] Chamberlain left the Warriors in 1965, returning to his home town Philadelphia, to play with the 76ers. The Warriors however, strengthened by the arrival of Rick Barry, made it to the 1967 NBA Finals, in which they lost to Chamberlain's 76ers. After his NBA Finals appearance, Meschery was selected by the NBA's Seattle SuperSonics during the 1967 NBA Expansion Draft.

In the SuperSonics' inaugural season, Meschery led the team in rebounds (10.2 per game) as well as personal fouls.[5] He retired following the 1970-71 season, having played four seasons for the SuperSonics.

After retiring as a player, Meschery became head coach of the ABA's Carolina Cougars, which he guided to a record of 35-49 in the 1971-72 season before being replaced by Larry Brown.[6]

Meschery has been inducted into the San Francisco High School Hall of Fame; Saint Mary's College Hall of Fame (his college jersey #31 retired); and the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame.

Post-basketball life

Meschery published his first book of poems in 1970, and returned to school after his coaching stint, receiving his Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Iowa in 1974. He studied poetry with Mark Strand, U.S. poet laureate, at the University of Washington. After receiving his teaching credentials at the University of Nevada, Reno, Meschery taught high school English at Reno High School in Reno, Nevada, until his retirement from teaching in 2005. He is also a poet, whose works often relate to basketball, teaching, and being a Russian immigrant. In 2002, Meschery was inducted into the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame.

Meschery is now living in Sacramento, California with his wife, artist Melanie Marchant Meschery. His son is Matthew Meschery who is the former lead vocalist of OPM. Meschery continues to write poems, fiction, and essays. He traces his love of writing to his Russian maternal ancestors, Alexei and Leo Tolstoy. Embarking on a new career as a novelist, Meschery has completed three novels in manuscript: Mr. Dolby's Dream, She's Got Game, and The Kid Has Hops and a young adult novel, also in manuscript, entitled The Society for the Prevention of Bullying. He has two published collections of poetry: Nothing We Lose Can Be Replaced and Some Men and Sweat: New and Selected Poems About Sports. Meschery and his wife Melanie are presently collaborating on a book of poems and art about saints.

His blog 'Meschery's Musings' discusses a variety of controversial subjects relating to sports. Each blog ends with a sports poem. Meschery says he wishes to introduce the public to fine contemporary poems whose subject is sports in the same way Garrison Keillor makes poetry in general available to his listeners on his morning radio broadcasts.[7]

NBA career statistics

Regular season

1961-62 Philadelphia 80 31.6 .404 .824 9.1 1.8 12.1
1962-63 San Francisco 64 35.1 .425 .728 9.8 1.6 16.0
1963-64 San Francisco 80 30.3 .458 .702 7.7 1.9 13.5
1964-65 San Francisco 79 30.5 .394 .751 8.3 1.3 12.7
1965-66 San Francisco 80 29.8 .448 .765 9.0 1.0 12.8
1966-67 San Francisco 72 25.6 .415 .717 7.6 1.3 10.6
1967-68 Seattle 82 34.8 .469 .707 10.2 2.4 14.5
1968-69 Seattle 82 32.6 .453 .736 10.0 2.4 14.0
1969-70 Seattle 80 28.7 .482 .790 8.3 2.0 12.3
1970-71 Seattle 79 23.1 .463 .750 6.1 1.4 9.3
Career 778 30.2 .441 .745 8.6 1.7 12.7
All-Star 1 8.0 .333 .500 1.0 1.0 3.0


1962 Philadelphia 12 42.3 .397 .863 11.5 2.7 20.1
1964 San Francisco 12 33.8 .442 .778 7.3 1.8 16.8
1967 San Francisco 15 27.2 .451 .761 7.9 1.7 12.9
Career 39 33.9 .428 .809 8.8 2.0 16.3


  • Over the Rim (1970), New York: McCall Publishing.
  • Caught in the Pivot: a Diary of a Rookie Coach in the Exploding World of Pro Basketball (1973). Dell.
  • Nothing We Lose Can Be Replaced (1999), Black Rock Press, University of Nevada, Reno.
  • Some Men (2012), Black Rock Press, University of Nevada, Reno. Reno, Nevada.
  • Sweat: New and Selected Poems About Sports (2015), Black Rock Press, University of Nevada, Reno. Reno, Nevada.


  1. ^ a b TOM MESCHERY: THE FIRST RUSSIAN IN THE NBA Archived January 26, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ a b c Oedven, Ed (September 15, 2017). "Eclectic Meschery has lived rich life in NBA, literature". The Japan Times.
  3. ^ Oedven, Ed (October 13, 2017). "Memories of war have had profound effect on Meschery". The Japan Times.
  4. ^ " Tom Meschery". Retrieved 2010.
  5. ^ " Seattle SuperSonics 1967-68". Retrieved 2010.
  6. ^ Oedven, Ed (September 29, 2017). "Love of poetry, books made Meschery unique in NBA". The Japan Times.
  7. ^ Andrieson, David (October 13, 2007). "Sonics ushered Seattle into the big time 40 years ago Saturday". The Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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