Paul Seymour Inducted 1986 - Class of 1945
"He was the youngest player ever to start in the National Basketball League (now the NBA) and played for the Syracuse Nats in the 1940's, 50's and 60's. Paul Seymour exemplified the spirit of the Syracuse Nats because of his hustle, his scrappiness, his tenacity and his all-around basketball ability.... Seymour was the guy the coach called on to cover the opposing teams' superstars. He was 'Mr. Shutdown' against the likes of Bob Cousy and Bill Sharman, Jim Pollard and Carl Braun."
That was the way an anniversary booklet of the Syracuse team characterized Paul Seymour who, a mere two years after his graduation in 1945 from Woodward High School, started on a long career as a standout player and coach in major league professional basketball.
Paul Seymour was a member of the great Woodward basketball team of 1943-44. He and another member of the team, Bob Harrison, were together again as seniors. That Polar Bear team was undefeated in regular season play but was upset in the tournament. (Bob Harrison went on to star
star in basketball at the University of Michigan and in professional play with Milwaukee and St. Louis. His last two years in pro ball he played for Paul Seymour at Syracuse. "Started together and finished together," Mr. Seymour says of the two of them.)
After graduating from Woodward, Mr. Seymour enrolled at the University of Toledo. He had a single fine varsity season but left school after one year to join the Toledo Jeeps touring basketball team. He joined New Orleans the next season, only to be stranded there after three weeks when the Professional Basketball Association of America folded. He then caught on with the Baltimore Bullets as the 1947-48 season opened, but early switched to the Syracuse Nats and stayed with them as a player and/or coach through the 1959-60 season.
From Syracuse he went on to coach the St. Louis Hawks and the Baltimore Bullets. He was coach of the Detroit Pistons in 1968-69, and then, nearly 30 years after he entered Woodward High as a freshman, he left basketball to return to Syracuse so that he could devote more time to his family and to the business interests in which he is still involved.
In his playing days with the Syracuse Nats, the team that later became the Philadelphia 76ers, Mr. Seymour was named to three consecutive NBA all-star teams. He was captain of the Nats before being named player-coach; he captained the team the year (1954-55) it won the NBA championship. That same year he led the league in assists with a total of 483 and an average of 6.7 a game. He three times led the team in minutes played, averaging 41 minutes a game over 72 games in the 1954-55 season.
Of his skills as a player, a sportswriter said of Mr. Seymour in 1955 that he "excels in the fading art of basketball defense but also is a dangerous scoring threat ... with a great two-handed set, a consistent one-hand shot from around the keyhole, and he can lay the ball in from underneath or hook it on the run. But his own scoring is a minor part of his offensive ability. He rates among the best in the league as a playmaker and in a recent game was credited with 18 assists, two short of the NBA record."
Of his talents as a coach, another sports columnist wrote: "His boss says he was born to coach. His players call him a natural in the job. Even the referees he battles with fervor admit no one knows the game of basketball better than Paul Seymour."
In 1964, Mr. Seymour was inducted into the Greater Toledo Athletic Hall of Fame.