Former Orange Center Dies at Age 29


Tuesday, July 11th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6



IRVINE, Calif. (AP) — Former Syracuse University basketball player Conrad McRae collapsed and died on his first day of practice with the Orlando Magic's summer league team. He was 29.

McRae died Monday at Irvine Medical Center, said Larry Esslinger, supervising deputy coroner of Orange County. He was taken to the medical center after collapsing at the University of California, Irvine, where the team was having its first practice.

An autopsy was to be conducted Tuesday to determine the cause of death. The coroner's office said it was unable to contact McRae's regular doctor to check on his medical history.

McRae had experienced past health problems. In 1999, he signed a 10-day contract with the Denver Nuggets but it was terminated when he fainted prior to a game.

``He was one of the greatest kids we ever had. This is just unbelievably shocking,'' Syracuse Coach Jim Boeheim told the New York Post.

McRae, 6-10, from Brooklyn, N.Y. played for Syracuse from 1989-1993, averaging nearly 13 points per game his senior season. He was taken in the second round of the 1993 NBA draft by the Washington Bullets but ended up playing mostly for European teams and in the Continental Basketball Association. He played in the Italian A-1 league last season with Pallacaniesto Triests, averaging nearly 11 points.

``It was a huge shock. He was an outstanding young man,'' said Syracuse assistant coach Bernie Fine. ``He was very happy-go-lucky. He always had a smile on his face.

``He was supposed to be getting married Aug. 5. I spoke with him a few weeks ago and he was really excited. He said, `You have to come to the wedding,''' Fine said. ``All of a sudden he's gone.''

McRae, who was not on the Magic's roster, was one of 13 players signed to play for the NBA team's entry in the Southern California Summer Pro League in Long Beach.

``We're shocked at the news of the tragedy,'' said Magic General Manager John Gabriel. ``Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.''