Great individuals and great basketball players.
Those were some of the words used to describe former Elizabeth City State men’s basketball players Michael “Mike” Gale and Robert Chadwick, Sr.
The cause of death for both men was not made public.
Chadwick and Gale were key contributors during the golden era of the Elizabeth City State men’s basketball program.
From 1967 to 1971 Elizabeth City State won the CIAA tournament championship in 1969, two NAIA District 29 tournament championships (1969 and 1971) and competed in the NAIA national tournament in 1969 (fourth-place finish) and 1971 (third-place finish).
According to ECSU, from 1963 to July 1, 1969, Elizabeth City State University was known as Elizabeth City State College (ECSC).
Chadwick, 75, played for the Vikings from the 1966-67 season through the 1969-70 campaign.
Gale, 70, was a member of the basketball program from the 1967-68 season through the 1970-71 season.
Robert “Bobby” Vaughan, who served as Elizabeth City State’s head men’s basketball coach from 1949 through 1986, told The Daily Advance on Monday that Gale grew up in a rough neighborhood in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Although Gale had a reserved personality, Vaughan said that Gale was the leader of the Vikings during his time in the program.
Vaughan said Gale was one of the best players he ever coached.
Vaughan, 92, noted that Gale was an all-around great guy and was a good student.
On the court, Vaughan said that Gale could do everything.
Following his playing career with the Vikings in 1971, Gale was drafted by the American Basketball Association’s Kentucky Colonels and the National Basketball Association’s Chicago Bulls.
Gale decided to begin his professional career with the now-defunct Kentucky Colonels.
He would help Kentucky win the ABA championship during the 1973-74 season.
Gale also played for the ABA’s New York Nets and San Antonio Spurs.
The Spurs were part of the ABA-NBA merger after the 1975-76 season.
Gale played six seasons in the NBA.
He spent 3 ½ of those seasons with the Spurs, 1 ½ season with the Portland Trail Blazers and ended his NBA career in the 1981-82 season with the Golden State Warriors.
“The Spurs family mourns the passing of Mike ‘Sugar’ Gale,” the San Antonio Spurs said in a statement posted on social media July 31. “Our deepest condolences go out to this family during this difficult time.”
Gale is a member of the ECSU sports hall of fame.
Vaughan, who is a member of the ECSU and North Carolina sports halls of fame, noted that Chadwick was a great person and an outstanding shooter from the Hampton Roads region in Virginia.
The former Elizabeth City State men’s basketball coach added that Chadwick was one of the best shooters on the team during his time as a Viking.
Although Vaughan noted that Chadwick’s dribbling and passing were — at first — a work in progress, Chadwick improved.
The coach said Chadwick was a key player off the bench for the Vikings and added Chadwick’s shooting made Chadwick a fan favorite.
At the time, Elizabeth City State played home basketball games on campus at Williams Hall.
Vaughan said both players made him a better coach.
During the 1968-69 season, Elizabeth City State had a 29-4 overall record.
The 29 wins stands as the most during a single season in program history.
Leonard Carmichael was teammates of Gale and Chadwick.
Carmichael, who was a freshman on the Elizabeth City State men’s basketball team in 1968-69, said Wednesday that he was roommates with Gale for three years.
“We were like brothers,” Carmichael said.
He added the entire team during its run with Gale and Chadwick was very close.
Carmichael noted that Gale could score the basketball.
When Gale got the opportunity to play basketball at the professional level, Carmichael noted Gale sacrificed his offensive scoring ability to play defense.
Gale was a two-time all-ABA defensive team selection.
Carmichael noted that Chadwick was a great person whose jokes kept the team laughing.
A four-year member of the Viking basketball program, Carmichael said Chadwick and Gale will be missed by the Elizabeth City State family.