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Tom Meschery was a power forward with a 10 year National Basketball Association career from 1962 to 1971. He played for the Philadelphia Warriors, 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.
Meschery was born in Harbin, Manchuria, which today is part of the People's Republic of China. His parents were Russian emigrants that fled from the October Revolution in 1917. The Meschery family was later relocated to a Japanese internment camp near Tokyo during World War II. After the war, Meschery and his parents emigrated to the United States. Living in San Francisco, California, Meschery attended Lowell High School. After graduating in 1957, he headed to Saint Mary's College of California in Moraga, receiving his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1961.
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. Meschery played alongside legend Wilt Chamberlain, to whom he later dedicated a poem. Chamberlain left the Warriors in 1965, returning to his home town Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to play with the 76ers. The Warriors however, strengthened by the arrival of Rick Barry, made the 1967 NBA Finals, in which they lost to Chamberlain's Sixers. After his NBA Finals appearance, Meschery left the Warriors to join the NBA's expansion franchise Seattle SuperSonics. He went on to play another four seasons with the Sonics before retiring in 1971, the same year in which he became head coach of the ABA's Carolina Cougars, which he guided to a record of 35-49 before being replaced by Larry Brown.
Meschery 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 University of Washington. After receiving his teaching credentials at University of Nevada, Reno, Meschery taught high school English in Reno, Nevada, until his retirement in 2005. He is also a poet, whose works often relate to basketball, teaching, and being a Russian immigrant. In 2002, Meschery was inducted to the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame. His wife, Joanne Meschery, also received that honor (in 1999). Tom Meschery was also inducted to the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame in 2003.