It is with great sadness that the Premier Basketball League has learned of the passing today of the Halifax Rainmen’s most popular player, John Strickland.  According to news reports, Strickland passed away in his sleep.  He was 38 years old.

Strickland, who played for the Rainmen in the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons, recently moved into the Rainmen’s front office as its Director of Basketball Development.  “I was devastated to hear that ‘Strick’ passed away,” said Halifax CEO and President Andre Levingston.  “He was a valuable asset to the team and an incredible friend to me. I want to extend my deepest sympathies to his family, we will all miss him very, very, much.”

Strickland, who played his college ball at Hawaii-Pacific, spent fifteen years in professional ball, playing in several minor and overseas leagues.  In the Continental Basketball Association, he was named an All-Star in 2008.  He was also one of the most popular players on the “Terror Squad” basketball team in New York’s Harlem Rucker League.

But it was his last two professional years, in Halifax, where he achieved cult hero status.  Fans in Halifax’s Section 22, also known as “Heckler’s Row,” wore custom-made Strickland 45 jerseys and cheered for him every time he touched the ball.

“Stickland will be a missed dearly by the entire PBL family,” said Dr. Sev, Chairman of the Premier Basketball League. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends. He will be well remembered.”

“John Strickland played with joy and excitement every time he touched the basketball,” said Chuck Miller, Premier Basketball League photographer and media specialist.  “He always got the crowd - whether home or away - into every basketball game he played.  This is a very sad day.”

Strickland also received recognition in the music world, as rapper Jay-Z name-checked the forward in his track “PSA.”  “My homey Strick told me, ‘Dude finish your breakfast,’ so that’s what I’ma do…”

InsideHoops.com editor says: Wow. This dude was my buddy for the past decade or so. I knew him, and so did just about everyone associated with New York City-area basketball. Watching him at Rucker Park back years ago when he was a regular there was one of the highlights of every summer. “The Franchise” (aka “Big Panda” and about a dozen other nicknames) was one of the most vocal streetballers ever. He’d yell at the refs. Yell at the fans. Yell at himself. The fence. The basket support. Whatever was nearby. No one in streetball could contain him. Strickland knew it, and he made sure you knew it, too. He was extremely funny, friendly and nice (off the court), and a hell of a player. He made many thousands of people smile, a lot. He’ll be missed.

John Strickland Video Feature