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No stopping Togo

Catching up with Togo Palazzi

A first-round pick of the Boston Celtics, he is considered a living legend on the Holy Cross campus.

Togo Palazzi played three seasons with the Celtics (1954-57) and is listed on the roster as a member of the 1957 NBA Championship team. In 1957, Palazzi began the season with the Celtics, but was sold to the Syracuse Nationals during the season.

“I’m on that first world championship team and if you look in the record books they have me listed,” said Palazzi. “When they had the dinner I was with Syracuse and they didn’t consider me part of the Celtics, but in all the media information I am listed on the team.”

Palazzi is most noted for his achievements at Holy Cross where he served as co-captain of the 1954 Crusader squad, which won the National Invitational Tournament Championship. A two-time All-American, he was named MVP of the tournament and ranks second only to Tommy Heinsohn in career rebounds.

“It was a great experience and I think it was four of the most productive and happiest years of my life,” said Palazzi about his time at Holy Cross. “My mom wanted me to go to Holy Cross because she thought I would get a great education there.

“I played for a great coach in Buster Sheary and got to play with Ron Perry and Tommy Heinshon. We won the NIT Championship in 1954 and took part in three tournaments.”

These days, Palazzi, 72, resides in Southboro, Massachusetts and has six grown children Francis, Vincent, Michael, Mary Ann, Liz, Matt and nine grandchildren.

Basketball is definitely in the Palazzi family blood. Francis played at Loyala University, Vincent played at Nichols College, Michael played at Fairfield University, Matt played at Providence College and Mary Ann played for her father while he was the women’s basketball coach at Holy Cross.

“There is a lot of basketball in the family,” said Palazzi. “There still is. Mary Ann coaches at New Haven and Francis is a referee in Rhode Island.”

For work, Palazzi is retired, but is still very involved in the game of basketball and working with young children. He runs several basketball camps, including Togo Pallazzi’s Basketball Specialists in Marlborough, Mass. He also does individual work with many players.

Outside of basketball, Palazzi enjoys spending time with family, in particular his grandchildren and surprisingly has not taken up the game of golf.

“I have never gotten involved with golf,” said Palazzi. “Everybody gives me the business that I would never play a game that takes the least amount of shots to win. I was a shooter and I mean a shooter. The only guy I will not let me call a shooter is Heinshon because he was worse than I was.”

Recently, Palazzi has had some health concerns with chest pains and currently has a pacemaker. But, like the true champion he is he has responded well and is on the road to recovery.

“I'm doing pretty well and people see me and say they wouldn’t even know anything happened,” said Palazzi. “I’m just hoping and praying that I can resume the coaching and being with the young kids. That’s what keeps me young.”

For his career in the NBA, Palazzi played a total of six seasons. During the 1957 season, Palazzi was placed on the inactive list by the Celtics to make room for Bill Russell and soon after was sold to the Nationals.

“I had my best games in my career with them (Nationals) and probably did the right thing for me because I was able to prolong my career from three to six years,” Palazzi. “I was sad to leave and would drive to Boston with Heinshon and (Bob) Cousy everyday, but I wanted to prove I could be an NBA player and I did.”

As far as the current Celtics, Palazzi is excited about the future and thinks they could be a surprise team in the playoffs.

“I like Boston a lot and the way they are playing,” said Palazzi. “(Antoine) Walker, (Paul) Pierce and (Ricky) Davis are three great offensive players. If they catch fire and get it going they could surprise quite a few people.”


The Palazzi File

NAME: Togo Palazzi

BIRTHDAY: August 8, 1932

RESIDES: Southboro, Massachusetts

WHERE DID YOU GROW UP: Union Hill, NJ

ENJOYS: Coaching basketball and spending time with his grandchildren

CLAIM TO FAME: One of the greatest basketball players ever for Holy Cross; A first-round pick of the Boston Celtics in 1954 and played three seasons (1954-57) with Boston winning one NBA title (1957)

HIGHLIGHT OF BASKETBALL CAREER: The 1954 Holy Cross NIT Championship

DID YOU KNOW? Prior to the Celtics, Red Auerbach tried to recruit Togo Palazzi to play at Duke University

GREATEST BASKETBALL YOU PLAYED WITH/AGAINST: Bill Russell/Elgin Baylor

CURRENT BASKETBALL PLAYER YOU MOST ADMIRE: Jason Kidd

ONE WORD TO DESCRIBE NEW ENGLAND SPORTS FANS: Rabid

FAVORITE THING ABOUT NEW ENGLAND: The people and change of seasons. I am happier here then any other part of the country.

WOULD YOU EVER PARTICIPATE IN A REALITY TV SHOW: Sure, I'm an outgoing guy - why not?

IF YOU COULD CLONE ANYONE, WHO WOULD IT BE: Pope John Paul II

IF YOU HAD ONE WISH, WHAT WOULD IT BE: To be 23 and just graduating from Holy Cross again

EVER WALK THE FREEDOM TRAIL: Yes

CLAM CHOWDA OR LOBSTA: Both

DO YOU KNOW WHAT A BUBBLER (WATER FOUNTAIN) IS: It's something you drink out of

CANDLEPIN BOWLING OR BIG BALL BOWLING: Big Ball Bowling

WILL THE NHL START ON TIME NEXT SEASON: I hope it does, so at this point yes

DID YOU WATCH THE RED SOX WIN THE WORLD SERIES. IF YES, WHERE: I sure did and I was at home watching it on television. I had to admire them and they did a fantastic job.

2005 PICK TO WIN THE NBA CHAMPIONSHIP: Miami Heat

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