NORTH PROVIDENCE (WBSM) — A Rhode Island basketball legend and former NBA Rookie of the Year had a sports complex at a North Providence park named after him this weekend, a great honor – even if they did spell his name incorrectly.

The Ernie DiGregorio Sports Complex at Evans was dedicated on Saturday at Millar-Waite-Evans Memorial Park, with a sign that wrongly spelled his name as “DeGregorio.”

“They’ll fix it,” he told a concerned fan on Facebook Sunday.

Indeed, it was fixed by Monday afternoon.

It was an appropriate honor for a man who is synonymous with basketball in the Ocean State.

DiGregorio is a North Providence native who graduated from North Providence High (winning a state championship there) and went on to play basketball at Providence College. He was an NCAA All-American for the Friars in 1973, the same year he helped lead PC to a Final Four appearance.

“Ernie D” then was drafted by the Kentucky Colonels of the American Basketball Association but opted instead for the NBA, and was drafted third overall by the Buffalo Braves in 1973.

DiGregorio won the NBA Rookie of the Year Award in 1973-74 after averaging 15.2 points per game and leading the league in both free throw percentage (90.2 percent) and assists per game (8.2) while playing for legendary coach Dr. Jack Ramsay.

He still holds the NBA record for assists in a single game (25) and at one time held the league record for free throw percentage in a season (94.5, set in 1976-77).

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A severe knee injury suffered in the 1974-75 season hampered Ernie D for the rest of his career. DiGregorio was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers before the 1977-78 season, but played in only 25 games before being waived. He signed with the Boston Celtics as a free agent in January 1978 but he saw limited minutes in just 27 games.

He also later became the “celebrity host” of Foxwoods casino and had a stint hosting a Foxwoods-sponsored free-throw shooting contest on the parquet floor during Celtics home games for a time in the early 2000s.

DiGregorio was inducted into the College Basketball Hall of Fame in 2019.

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