For most basketball fans, the name Dwayne Schintzius evokes one thought—mullet. The 1990 first-round pick of the San Antonio Spurs rocked the hairstyle for part of his eight-year NBA career before retiring in 1999. Unfortunately, just over a decade later, Schintzius was dead at 43. Here’s a look at the life and tragic death of Dwayne Schintzius.
Dwayne Schintzius stars at Florida
Dwayne Schintzius first introduced his mullet to the world at the University of Florida as a freshman in the 1986-87 season. His first year in Gainesville, Schintzius made an immediate impact with the Gators averaging 10.9 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks per game. He was named to the SEC All-Freshman team.
Schintzius built on his freshman performance with improved numbers his sophomore year, but the 7-foot-2-inch center had his best year at Florida in 1988-89, his junior year. That season Schintzius averaged 18 points, pulled down 9.7 rebounds, and blocked 1.9 shots per game. He was named to the All-SEC first team and All-SEC Tournament first team.
Schintzius’s senior year, however, turned out to be disastrous. It ended just 11 games in when he quit the team. Schintzius and several other players didn’t get along with interim head coach Don DeVoe, who was brought in to replace the ousted Norm Sloan. The players had a hard time adjusting to and playing for someone who had coached against them a season earlier at Tennessee. Despite his early departure that senior season, Schintzius had built up a strong enough resume and was considered a top NBA prospect.
Dwayne Schintzius had a less-than-stellar NBA career, but a first-class mullet
The San Antonio Spurs selected Dwayne Schintzius with the 24th overall pick in the 1990 NBA draft. Unfortunately, injuries plagued the center throughout his NBA career starting that first year in San Antonio. During his rookie season, which turned out to be his best in the NBA averaging 3.8 points and 2.9 rebounds per game, Schintzius injured his back.
With the injured back limiting his effectiveness and subsequently, his playing time, the Spurs traded him to Sacramento. Schintzius said later that Spurs general manager Bob Bass disliked his mullet, and told him to cut it. Schintzius followed orders then proceeded to send Bass the clippings in an envelope.
Unfortunately, Schintzius’s mullet, which he called “the lobster” because it was scraggly feathered in the back like the crustacean’s tail, gained more notoriety than his play on the court. It was always a conversational topic with his teammates, opposing teams, and of course, opposing team’s fans.
In 1999, Schintzius played just 16 games for the Boston Celtics. Because of injuries, the most games he ever played in a single season was 43. With injuries taking their toll on him physically and mentally, Schintzius retired at the conclusion of the 1999 season after having played for six teams in eight years.
Schintzius tragically dies at a young age
While Dwayne Schintzius was well-known in the sports world for his mullet, he also gained notoriety in 1996. That year he appeared as Ivan Radovadovitch, a Russian basketball player, in the movie “Eddie,” starring Whoopi Goldberg.
In 2004, Schintzius found himself in the headlines for a much more serious matter when he appeared in the trial of his former New Jersey Nets teammate Jayson Williams. Schintzius testified he was staying at Williams’s house when he witnessed Williams kill his Rottweiler over a $100 bet.
Five years later, in 2009, Schintzius was diagnosed with chronic myelomonocytic leukemia, a rare and fatal form of the disease. Fortunately, he received a bone marrow transplant from his brother Travis and after months of complications was declared cancer-free in July 2010. Unfortunately, Schintzius suffered additional complications several years later and died on April 15, 2012, of respiratory failure. He was 43.
Despite dying at a young age, Schintzius will be remembered for his role in the movie “Eddie” by some, while others will remember him for his time at Florida and in the NBA. Everyone, however, will never forget his business-in-the-front-party-in-the-back hairstyle that was as entertaining as his game.