Walter Dukes, 70, a Standout At Seton Hall and in the N.B.A.

By RICHARD GOLDSTEIN
Published: March 16, 2001

Walter Dukes, a 7-foot center who set the N.C.A.A. single-season rebounding record when he led Seton Hall University to the National Invitation Tournament championship in 1953, then played for eight seasons in the National Basketball Association, was found dead in his Detroit home on Tuesday. He was 70.

Dukes's body was found in a bedroom by the Detroit police, who were called to his home by a sister who had not seen him for some time, according to Officer Claude Fox. Officer Fox said that Dukes apparently died of natural causes.

Dukes pulled down 734 rebounds in 1952-53, a N.C.A.A. Division I record that still stands. He led Seton Hall to a 31-2 record and the N.I.T. title when that tournament was a prestigious event.

After being named an all-American, Dukes was drafted by the Knicks, but he spurned them for a far more lucrative offer from the Harlem Globetrotters. Abe Saperstein, the Globetrotter owner, wheeled 3,000 silver dollars into the dining room of Toots Shor's restaurant in Manhattan in June 1953 to present as a bonus for Dukes. He signed a one-year contract with the Globetrotters for a reported $25,000, played with them for two seasons, then joined the Knicks.