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YouTube Gold: Art Heyman And The Pittsburgh Pipers

Some interesting footage of the ABA’s first championship team

Clarkson NCAA Archive
 LOUISVILLE, KY - MARCH 22: Art Heyman #25 of the Duke Blue Devils looks at the scoreboard against the Loyola Ramblers during the semifinal game of the NCAA Men”u2019s Basketball Tournament held at Freedom Hall on March 22, 1963 in Louisville, Kentucky. Loyola defeated Duke 94-75 to advance to the finals.
Rich Clarkson/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

Art Heyman had a memorable and exciting career at Duke but in the NBA, he ran into trouble.

The #1 pick in the 1963 draft and taken by his hometown New York Knicks, Heyman was, we think but could be wrong on this, the only Jewish player ever taken at #1. The only other Jewish player in any league that we’re aware of to go #1 was Sue Bird, who was the first pick of the 2002 WNBA Draft, taken by the Seattle Storm.

At Duke Heyman was colorful but had some behavioral issues that detracted from his brilliance. There’s a reasonable chance that today, he might have been diagnosed with something like ADD or ADHD.

His NBA career didn't pan out. He spent two years with the Knick and part of the 1965 season with the Cincinnati Royals before being traded to the Philadelphia 76ers. They cut him loose in 1966, a year before the team unseated Bill Russell’s Boston Celtics.

After Russell became player-coach following Red Auerbach’s retirement, Heyman was one of the last players cut.

After that he moved to the ABA and eventually found his way to the Pittsburgh Pipers where, along with Connie Hawkins, he won a championship as Pittsburgh beat New Orleans for the first ABA title.

When he was at Duke, Heyman was involved in a major brawl with UNC that started with Heyman and Larry Brown. Brown and his UNC teammate Doug Moe played for New Orleans.

Heyman would be with the Pipers from 1967-69 but the team, like the league, was never stable. The Pipers moved to Minnesota for the 68-69 season then back to Pittsburgh where they were renamed the Condors.

Duke great Mike Lewis was briefly a Pittsburgh teammate of Heyman’s but the Condors folded in 1972 (actually the ABA canceled the franchise) and Lewis was acquired by the Carolina Cougars.

Heyman finished his basketball career with the Miami Floridians in 1970. This video includes some small clips of him and it’s the only professional video we’ve ever seen of one of Duke’s greatest players.