Stanley Lee “Whitey” Von Nieda Jr. (June 19, 1922 – September 6, 2023) was an American professional basketball player and coach. Born in 1922, he attended Ephrata High School and later continued his education at Penn State University, where he also played basketball.
Military Service and Early Career
During World War II, Von Nieda enlisted in the army and played basketball for the Fort Benning, Georgia paratroopers. During his military service, he achieved a remarkable feat by leading the country in scoring, accumulating 1062 points in 44 games, which included both college and service teams. After being discharged from the army, he joined the Lancaster Red Roses in the Eastern Basketball League. He continued to impress, leading the league in scoring with an average of over 24 points per game.
Professional Basketball Career
In 1947, Von Nieda joined the Tri-Cities BlackHawks in the National Basketball League (NBL). During his stint with the Blackhawks, he made the All-Rookie team with an average of 12 points per game. The team also reached the final round of the playoffs in both years he was there.
In 1949, the NBA was founded, and Von Nieda was traded to the Baltimore Bullets. He completed the 1949–50 NBA season with the Bullets and was notable for starting every game, playing as both point guard and shooting guard. He was especially known for his quickness on the court.
After retiring as a player, Von Nieda transitioned to coaching. He first coached at Elizabethtown College for two years. In 1952, he returned to the Lancaster Red Roses as a player/coach for four years. Under his leadership, the team made it to the finals three out of the four years. He was selected to the All-EPBL Second Team in 1951. Later in 1985, he coached Lancaster in the Continental League, a stepping stone to the NBA, where his team again reached the finals. Von Nieda also spent many years coaching junior teams, working particularly with 10- and 12-year-old kids to teach them the fundamentals of basketball.
Personal Life and Death
Von Nieda resided in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania, with his wife, Arlene. He reached the milestone age of 100 on June 19, 2022, becoming the first NBA player to live to 100 years and thus the longest-lived NBA player in history. He passed away on September 6, 2023, at the age of 101.
Stanley Lee “Whitey” Von Nieda Jr. leaves behind a rich legacy, not only as an outstanding basketball player but also as a coach who helped shape the future of the sport. His contributions to basketball, both on and off the court, make him a significant figure in the history of the sport.