NYC Basketball Vintage: Remembering Conrad and Pearl Who Represent the NYC to “The Cuse”!!!

McRae and Pearl Photo

By Chris Ramirez,

How would you like to have Dwayne “Pearl” Washington and Conrad “McNasty” McRae on the same team in their prime? I would pay a ticket to see them play if it was at the Rucker or at Madison Square Garden.

I first saw Dwayne “Pearl” Washington who at the time was nickname Pac-Man back at Boys and Girls High in 1982 when they were playing in the Gold and Silver Classic at St. John’s University. Pearl’s playmaking skills and “shake and bake” moves would of mentally breakdown the defense opposition. In 1983 he was the top high school player in the nation. On February 20, 1983 Feb. 20, 1983: Washington told Al McGuire during halftime of a nationally televised game between St. John’s and DePaul on NBC College Basketball game of the Week that he had decided to attend Syracuse. The in the 1983 PSAL Semi Finals Boys and Girls took on Alexander Hamilton in which they eliminated Boys and Girls and shut down Pearl in that was his final HS game.

Then onto Syracuse and he took his game to another level; also Syracuse hoops and The Big East Conference as well. “The Cuse” was must-see television across the country and Pearl was the show. My favorite moment with Pearl was during The Big East Tournament when he was “shaking and baking’” on Georgetown’s defense and scoring on them, however Georgetown won in overtime but Pearl was flat out special that night regardless of the loss.

On March 16, 1986 Peal Washington’s Syracuse squad lost 97-85 to Navy and David Robinson at the Carrier Dome in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Washington announced he would forgo his senior year and enter the NBA draft, he was the first player under coach Jim Boeheim to leave school early. Pearl got drafted by the New Jersey Nets in the first round as the number 13 overall pick in the NBA Draft. Pearl played two years with the Nets and got picked up in the expansion draft by the Miami Heat for one year after being released.

I got to see Conrad McCrae aka McNasty playing the Gauchos AAU basketball program where he played along with Kenny Anderson, and Jamal Mashburn. “McNasty” was an outstanding New York City ball player and playing in the playgrounds where he was known for his flashy block shots and threw down some of the craziest slam dunks. He was an incredible athlete and a leaper, and was intimidating to other opponents. McCrae starred at Brooklyn Tech and became McDonalds All American in 1989.

Conrad play at Syracuse and saw limited time and play behind Derrick Coleman and LeBron Ellis. After his Freshman year he saw more playing time and his rebounding improved a lot and he was still blocking shots. He became fourth in block shots behind Syracuse greats Roosevelt Bouie, Ronny Seikaly and Derrick Coleman. McCrae was drafted in the second round by the Washington Bullets in 1993. He went on to play in Italy, Turkey, and Greece. McRae signed a 10-day contract with the Denver Nuggets back in 1999. However, it would be voided after he had two blackouts during his practices. In 2000 he was playing for the Orlando Magic’s summer league team and collapse on the court during practice, and died of a heart attack at the age of 29.

Both players had a special talent with their game and it bought us cheers and excitement watching them if it was on TV, The Carrier Dome, The Playgrounds, or at “The Garden”. McCrae and Washington became the pathway for others from New York City to play for Syracuse. The both of them have represented Brooklyn, The Gauchos, Syracuse, the NBA, and nonetheless New York City very well. They have taken their talents to heaven in which they team up together in better court. God Bless!!! RIP “Pearl & McNasty”

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