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With Pearl Washington death, another Nets player dies young

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Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

\Wednesday's death of Pearl Washington from a brain tumor was more than a tragedy.  The Syracuse product was the latest Nets player to die young.  John Brennan, the Record columnist, covered the New Jersey Nets in the 1990's and like so many writers has kept track of those he covered.  But unlike others, Brennan has had to keep track of an extraordinary wave of young men dying before their time.

Brennan's chronology includes 16 former Nets, starting with their first season in New Jersey, 1977-78, all but one younger than 58, in other words, too young.  Here's Brennan's list.  Of the 16, ten have died in the last five years.

1993 – DRAZEN PETROVIC, age 28, Net from 1991-93
1993 – BUBBLES HAWKINS, age 39, 1976-78
1996 – JOHN WILLIAMSON, age 45, 1973-77 and 1978-80
1998 – JAY TAYLOR, age 30, 1989-90
2004 – YINKA DARE, age 31, 1994-98
2010 – MAURICE LUCAS, age 58, 1980-81
2011 – ARMEN GILLIAM, age 47, 1993-96
2012 – DWAYNE SCHINTZIUS, age 43, 1992-95
2012 – ORLANDO WOOLRIDGE, age 52, 1986-88
2013 – RAY WILLIAMS, age 58, 1986-87
2014 – SAM LACEY, age 65, 1981-82
2015 – ANTHONY MASON, age 48, 1989-90
2015 – JACK HALEY, age 51, 1997 and 1998
2015 – DARRYL DAWKINS, age 58, 1982-87
2015 – MEL DANIELS, age 71, 1976
2016 – PEARL WASHINGTON, age 52, 1986-88

Many died of sudden cardiac death, which has become increasingly devastating for retired NBA players.  Dare, Mason, Haiey, Dawkins and Gilliam all died of heart ailments.  In February, cardiologists at Columbia - New York Presbyterian, led by Dr. David Engel, published a study of NBA players hearts. Engel, who is the NBA's cardiologist, had access to the records of 526 NBA players, current and former.  His study found basketball players, particularly the tallest of them, susceptible to sudden cardiac death, at a rate 50 times higher than the general population. Additional studies re underway.

Many of the Nets died under different conditions, Drazen Petrovic in a car accident, Dwayne Schintzius from cancer, Washington from a brain tumor.  None are any less tragic than others for those who love them, including fans.

1993 – DRAZEN PETROVIC, age 28, Net from 1991-93
1993 – BUBBLES HAWKINS, age 39, 1976-78
1996 – JOHN WILLIAMSON, age 45, 1973-77 and 1978-80
1998 – JAY TAYLOR, age 30, 1989-90
2004 – YINKA DARE, age 31, 1994-98
2010 – MAURICE LUCAS, age 58, 1980-81
2011 – ARMEN GILLIAM, age 47, 1993-96
2012 – DWAYNE SCHINTZIUS, age 43, 1992-95
2012 – ORLANDO WOOLRIDGE, age 52, 1986-88
2013 – RAY WILLIAMS, age 58, 1986-87
2014 – SAM LACEY, age 65, 1981-82
2015 – ANTHONY MASON, age 48, 1989-90
2015 – JACK HALEY, age 51, 1997 and 1998
2015 – DARRYL DAWKINS, age 58, 1982-87
2015 – MEL DANIELS, age 71, 1976
2016 – PEARL WASHINGTON, age 52, 1986-88 - See more at: http://blog.northjersey.com/meadowlandsmatters/13210/pearl-washington-just-the-latest-in-a-series-of-nets-who-died-young/?platform=hootsuite#sthash.39hVxlxm.dpuf