Basketball Scout Tom Konchalski

Memoirs of Basketball Scout Tom Konchalski

Memoirs of Basketball Scout Tom Konchalski

Tom Konchalski, a towering figure in the realm of high school basketball scouting, left an indelible mark on the sport through his unparalleled dedication and expertise. For 43 years, Konchalski meticulously evaluated college basketball prospects, shaping the landscape of the game. His renowned High School Basketball Insider Report, distributed via typewriter to over 200 subscribed college coaches, served as the quintessential scouting tool, providing comprehensive insights, evaluations, and rankings of hundreds of prospects. From Michael Jordan to LeBron James, Konchalski's coverage encompassed a who's who of basketball royalty, as future NBA legends graced the pages of his reports. In addition to his written contributions, Konchalski's ownership of the prestigious Five-Star Basketball Camp further solidified his influence, attracting the brightest talents during their high school days. Despite his aversion to modern technology, Konchalski's commitment to the craft and his unparalleled ability to capture players' essence through vivid wordplay made him a revered wordsmith in the basketball community. His impact transcended generations, earning him admiration and recognition as one of the most significant figures in basketball scouting history.

These memoirs, compiled from recordings made by Tom Konchalski in May and June of 2020, offer a profound reflection on the players, coaches, teams, tournaments, and moments that defined his illustrious 43-year career in evaluating college basketball prospects. Tom's generosity in sharing his insights demonstrates his unique character— a friend to many, an enemy to none, and a true original. From his own words emerges a vivid summary of the most celebrated figures, teams, and unforgettable games witnessed by the legendary scout, solidifying his legacy as an icon in the history of United States Basketball. These's Memoirs come directly from Tom Konchalski forwarded by Gene Doris.



The first time I saw Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor, Jr., was when he was in the eighth grade. He played for St. Jude in Inwood. The school was at 433 West 204th Street, right behind Monsignor Kett Playground. And the school is closed now. Now it's the Leadership Academy of Inwood, the church is still open next door. And when I went to the SLAM Summer Classic this past year (2019) I tried to pay a visit to the church but it was locked up.

When [Lew] was in the eighth grade they had, at least for one year, the only year I was aware of it, the Metropolitan Catholic Basketball Festival at Fordham. They had a Catholic College All-American game. It was supposed to be players from Catholic colleges from around the country against local ones. Tony Jackson, the local guy didn't show, but they had George Blaney, Tim Shea, they had some good players in it. Vinnie Kempton, who was Tim Kempton's father, and so on.

Fred Barakat, who later coached Fairfield, was the supervisor of officials, assistant commissioner of the ACC. Jack Nies, who became a NBA referee. Well, as a preliminary, they had an eighth grade all-star game, Brooklyn-Queens versus Manhattan-Bronx. Phil Pepe, the sports writer at the time, was the high school sports editor of the World-Telegram and Sun. And one day he profiled a 6'7", 230-pound eighth grader from Our Lady of the Angels in Bay Ridge, a white kid by the name of Pat Heelan. The next day he profiled a skinny 6'8" kid, probably about 180 pounds or 190 pounds, from Saint Jude, Lew Alcindor. And they promoted this game because there's going to be a matchup between two eighth graders, Pat Heelan, who was probably better than Alcindor at the time, and Alcindor.

Well, in any event, the game is played, neither of them played well. Pat Heelan, who was a better player, had like four points. Alcindor had maybe one or two points. The heroes of the game on the Manhattan-Bronx team, Frankie McLaughlin, who went on to play at Fordham Prep and Fordham, was an assistant to Digger [Phelps] at Fordham and Notre Dame, and then the head coach of Harvard, and for many years the AD at Fordham.

And John Thurston, a seventh grader who was from St. Helena's in the Bronx, in Parkchester, who was probably the best two-sport athlete that Jack Curran ever coached, baseball and basketball at Molloy. And a little guy, 5'2", from St. Athanasius. His real name was Bobby Cremins, but in the program it said Bob Gremens (G-R-E-M-E-N-S), from St. Athanasius.

And so that's the first time I saw Lew Alcindor, and he wasn't good then. And as a freshman he wasn't that good either. He was 6'11", and back then you had the center jump, when he went to power, had a center jump at the beginning of each quarter. So he'd play maybe about 12 to 16 minutes a game. His biggest improvement was between his freshman and sophomore year.

When [Lew] was a freshman, LaSalle Academy won the city championship, they had a 6'9" kid, Valentine Reed, who was a senior the next year was a Parade Magazine All-American, fourth team, played with Syracuse. And they had a point guard Chris Chimera who went and played with Bill Bradley in the famous game against Michigan and Cazzie Russell in the holiday festival on December 30, 1964.

But they killed Power those two games. I saw those games and they killed power, and Val Reed killed Alcindor. Well that night it was November 16th, 1962. Was the first game of the season, it was a prelim to a Knicks-San Francisco Warriors game. The Warriors had just moved out from Philly down to San Francisco. And Lew Alcindor totally turned the tables on Val Reed and never looked back from that point on. He had maybe 26 points, 17 rebounds, eight or nine blocks. And he met Chamberlain in between games, in the locker room. And Wilt went out that night against the Knicks and scored 73, the most points I've ever seen anyone score in a game. Everyone knew that from that night, I mean, no looking back.


I first knew Kenny when he was in the 6th grade. He played back then for Doc Nacelli of Madison Square Boys Club, before he went to Riverside Church. Then he left Riverside, ended up playing with Aim High. Then for five months from the game against the Russians on May 9th, 1988, through finals of the Gauchos Rumble, October 9th, 1988, he played for the Gauchos.

He would have played that spring, but then what he did is he broke a bone in his foot and the finals of the Wheelchair Classic at LIU that year. Kenny Anderson to this day is still the best guard I've ever seen in high school. Not Calvin Murphy, not Isiah Thomas -- Kenny Anderson. He's the only four-time, first team All-City player in the history of New York City basketball in the NY Post.

In 1989, he was unanimous National High School Player of the Year over Shaquille O'Neal. He brought a level of excitement to CHSAA basketball that the city hadn't seen since Kareem Jabbar was Lew Alcindor and the only time he was rivaled since then was Felipe Lopez at Rice High School, but he's probably the best guard I've ever seen in high school.


He played JV as a sophomore at [DeWitt] Clinton. Clinton used to have 6,000 boys. You had to wait your turn and pay your dues. He didn't even start his junior year. A guy by the name of Nat Duke started over him. He's the guy who got better at every level. By the time he was a senior, he was first team All-City. He led DeWitt Clinton to the city title over Erasmus who had beat them in the final the year before. Then he went to junior college. Then he ended up going to UTEP. It was no longer called Texas Western. He was a better college player than he was a high school player. Then even that, he goes out to the Aloha Classic, which back then the Aloha Classic was... That was the NBA's version of the pre-draft camp.

He was the MVP, but he still wasn't a first round draft pick. He was a second draft pick of Kansas City. Then in his third year in the league, he became the only player in the history of the league to lead the league in scoring and assists. But got better at every single level. That's because he worked purposely on his game. He was very sound fundamentally. He didn't have distractions. Talk about someone who would not have been consumed with social media.

With a lot of the talented kids now, they're too caught up in social media. It's a distraction. Michael Jordan wouldn't have been. Kobe wouldn't have been. Tiny Archibald, certainly wouldn't have been. Why do they put blinders on horses? So that they can have this total focus on the finish line straight ahead. They're not distracted by jockeys and the horses to their left or right. That's been the undoing. I think social media is probably the undoing of a lot of talented players, especially now. Now, obviously that Tiny's... There was no such thing back then, but he was fortunate. He wouldn't have allowed it to distract him though.


Artest… was maybe 6'3" as a freshman and he kept growing. He was a sophomore when Shammgod was the senior; played on the varsity. But another guy who just had great will, so strong physically, and very competitive... very emotional. Let me tell you what, there are very few people who have as good of a heart as Ron Artest. Now he's had emotional problems, controlling his emotions, and whatever, and I think he realizes that now, but he... Talk about a good person; who's generous, who would sponsor kids at camp, would pay tuition for kids in Catholic high schools, do things like that, really a good person.


Well, the first I heard of him... I had met his father, Joe, “Jellybean” back in December of 1971 when he was a senior at John Bartram High School. I had gone down with a friend of mine who was involved with Holy Cross College. Jack Donohue was coaching Holy Cross. That was his last year. They were recruiting Joe Bryant. They played in The Palestra. I think they played against LaSalle, where Joe ended up going into coaching as an assistant. That's where I met him. After he finished playing in the NBA for years, he played over in Italy.

I had heard about him having a son who was supposed to be good. Apparently Kobe and the family moved back from Italy in August of... It would've been '92. The first I actually saw him was at this Conshohocken tournament at the end of the season. This was an iconic tournament in the Philly area. It's called the Donofrio Classic at the Conshohocken Fellowship House in Conshohocken, PA, which is a suburb of Philly. It has been going on since 1961. This was the first year it wasn't held because of the COVID-19.

Over the years, all the great players in Philly have played in it. The first time I saw Kobe he was a freshman. He played in Conshohocken. I say, he was probably about 6'4". He looked very good. I couldn't have projected that he would end up with the way he ended up. Once again, the same thing as with Michael Jordan. What makes Michael Jordan, Michael Jordan is not his athleticism. It's his will. That was the same thing with Kobe. Kobe had a tremendous determination. Dr. Samuel Johnson famously wrote, he said, "Great works are formed not by strength, but by perseverance." That was Kobe. He worked purposefully on his game every year. He added something to his game. He got better every year.

He wanted to be a great player. I remember when he played... When he was a senior, the McDonald's East-West All American game was at the Pittsburgh Civic Arena, 1996. It was played on a Sunday afternoon. Those All Star games, generally are bad games because no one plays defense and they want to make the ESPN highlight... SportsCenter highlight reel. That's all they want to do. The best part of those used to be the banquet because John Wooden would be the speaker every year. Without a note, he delivered verbatim, word for word, the same talk, quoting Emerson and Thoreau and Shakespeare and whatever. You'd have thought you were in a college classroom. Morgan Wootten would be the MC. He did a great job.

They used to put the kids in tuxedos. The kids would complain about being in the tuxedos, but who looks better in a tuxedo than the 24 best athletes in the United States? At the end of the dinner... Kobe's mother and sisters had come out. The mother and sisters actually had driven out. The mother wouldn't fly. I don't think she still flies. When the family moved out in August of '96 to California, the mother and the sisters went out by train. In any event at the end of the dinner and people are taking pictures... I had some pictures with the family and whatever.

Well, I've got to backtrack and say this. They would show a video of Michael Jordan. Michael Jordan played in the McDonald's Game in '81. He had 30 [points], which at that time was the scoring record. He didn't get the MVP. Adrian Branch did. In the video, he says, "Congratulations on making McDonald's All American. It was one of the first big steps in my career. It gave me great confidence, but make sure that you get an education." At the end of the video, he goes, "I hope all of you guys make it to the NBA, but if you make it to the NBA, I'll be there waiting." He winks into the camera and says, "And I'll be ready."

We're standing around after taking some pictures and Kobe says to me, "I can't wait to play against the greatest players in the world." Then he winks at me and he says, "and I'll be ready." That just demonstrated his will. At the end of his junior year in high school, Lower Merion he was 175 [pounds]. He started working out four days a week with the strength and conditioning coach at St. Joe's Fieldhouse. St. Joe's University strength and conditioning coach. At the beginning of his senior season, he was 185. At the end of the high school season, usually you lose weight during the high school season, he was 195. This was all good weight, all muscle. I believe that his body fat probably even was reduced. He was a guy who had great will and great determination.

I thought he was going to be a tremendous player and an NBA player and maybe an All-Star. I wouldn't have thought that... I don't know if I realized because I didn't know the depth of his commitment to his craft that he was going to be maybe one of the top 10 players to ever play the game.


I'll tell you what happened later that day in the pro game. Wilt Chamberlain played in the pro game. Now, I've got to set the scene. P.S. 127 was a court that was maybe 70 to 75 feet long, enclosed within a cage. So Cecil Watkins, who ran the Ray Felix Summer League and organized the New York-Philly games, what he did is he'd rent portable bleachers and they'd set up 1,200-seat portable bleachers around the court. And you'd play four games: Junior high, high school, college, and pro. In the college game Tony Jackson played, Seth Sanders played, Leroy Ellis played, guys like that. Really good players.

In the pro game, Chamberlain was coming back, and he didn't go back to Kansas for his senior year. He lost in triple overtime, 54-53, to North Carolina in the '57 National Championship at Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City. Didn't qualify for the NCAA his junior year. Kansas State beat them out with Bob Boozer, and didn't want to go back for his senior year.

So [Wilt] signed the biggest contract that had ever been signed in basketball up to that point, $65,000 from the Globetrotters. And he comes into the park. It was in the Long Island Star Journal that he was going to play, so my father brought my older brother, Steve, who still coaches in Canada, his 46th year coming up at St. Francis Xavier University, and myself to the games.

So we're watching there and as the pro game is about to start, Wilt is wearing his Globetrotter shorts with the vertical stripes, and he wore a little denim cap like J.J. Walker wore in Good Times. And the referees weren't going to tell Wilt to take the cap off because maybe he'd walk out of the park, and he was a big attraction. Not that they charged admission or anything like that, but this is outdoors.

And it's next to P.S. 127, which is an elementary school. And in any event, in the second quarter what happens, this is long before alternate possession, is a held ball. And back then what you would do is you'd jump the held ball up at the nearest jump circle. And the guy who tied up Wilt was Richard "Chink" Gaines, who was a very good player. He's Sundiata Gaines' uncle, by the way. Chink Gaines played at Franklin K. Lane and Seton Hall. Was a perennial all-star in the Eastern League, should have been an NBA player, but there were quotas on the number of black players you'd have on a team. It wasn't a written rule, but it was an unwritten agreement with the owners.

Well, in any event, Gaines is 6'1" and a bull, very strong, and Wilt is 7'1". And they tossed it up at the foul line and Wilt Chamberlain control tapped it, tipped into the basket from the foul line. Back then it counts, now it would either have to touch another player or hit the ground for it to be counted. But it counted. Didn't even hit the rim, right through the net. He controlled tapped a basket, that's how strong he was. Control tapped it on his palm and put it in. 30 seconds later there was a thunderstorm. There was no rain site. It ended the play that day, 1,200 people scattered for cover, just ran. That ended the game in the second quarter. It's like God said, "I've seen it all. Nothing can top this, I'm ending it right now."

And that was the same day, first time I saw Connie Hawkins when I saw Wilt do that, which to this day is probably the most amazing thing I've ever seen on a basketball court, someone tap in a jump ball at the foul line.


In tandem with Dick McGuire, they invented the point guard position. He's got to be considered one of the greatest guards ever to play the game, but he couldn't play in this game now. I'm sure you've seen the video of him in Game 6 against, I think it was against the Warriors, where he's dribbling out the clock, going to his left, dribbling with his right hand. I mean, he certainly would have had to have changed his game, but I'll tell you what, he had a great understanding of the game. He has a lyrical expression. I mean, when he talks about the game, you think you're reading Keats or Shelly or Orton or whomever, a poet.


There were two players who had “the gift” and those two players were Kenny Anderson and Lloyd Daniels. God put those guys on this earth to play basketball. Really the proper word was how many “apparitions” of Lloyd Daniels were there? Lloyd Daniels had an almost mystical understanding of the game of basketball. I seriously doubt anybody ever taught him how to play. He just had a great instinct and feel for the game. He would go out on the court and he would... First of all, if he had to, he'd go into the post, he'd do what his team needed to win. Go into the post and you would have sworn that he just came from a Pete Newell Big Man Camp showing the repertoire of back to basketball moves that he had.

Then he'd go out to the perimeter and handle the ball. And you would have sworn he just came from the Steve Nash Nike point guard skills academy. He wasn't a great athlete. He grew to 6'7", 6'8", so he had size. He wasn't a guy who played above the rim or anything like that, but he had great skill and he just had a great instinctive understanding of the game.

One of his deficits was he could be very petulant on the court and, a great player, especially a great point guard, lifts his teammates up to his level and he makes them better than they actually are. Lloyd Daniels would throw a pass where he made sure he could catch it for an easy layup and the guy would have missed it or didn't move and whatever, and then he'd wave him off or whatever.

I don't know if he had the intangibles of Magic Johnson. Everyone says “Magic Johnson with a jump shot” and he can shoot the ball, he had great skill. He had this great instinctive understanding of the game.


When he came from the ABA, even though he was the MVP of the league one year, he sacrificed so much of his game when he came to Philadelphia playing alongside George McGinnis. The way Earl Monroe sacrificed his game when he came from Baltimore to play with the Knicks with Walt [Frazier] in the back court. He never dominated the way he did, and I don't think it's because you'd say the NBA was stronger than the ABA, I just think with the team he was on and he was intelligent enough that he wanted to win, that his role changed, and he was willing to accept that role.


Well, Ernie always claims I saw the first game he ever played. I don't remember that. I remember from the 7th grade on because he played for Our Lady Queen of Martyrs in CYO. He was a Jewish kid, but if you lived within the parish boundaries, you're allowed two non-Catholics. He played for Our Lady Queen of Martyrs, which is the parish where I attend now, in Forest Hills. Where I grew up was in Elmhurst Ascension Parish, which was the CYO center. I remember from at least the 7th grade. I have school books where he had 19 in a game, in the 7th grade. He claims I was at his first game. Maybe I was, but I don't remember.

I do remember this. He had never played an organized game of basketball. He had played in the schoolyard. His friends would talk them into joining the CYO team, which he did. The coach told him he was the biggest kid on the team. Go out there and get the jump ball. He went out there for the center jump. They threw the ball up and he caught it. He didn't know you couldn't do that. He always tells that story about himself. Now, the guy who ran the CYO program for Queen of Martyrs back then was Al Ragusa, who was the manager of City College in 1950 to win the NIT and NCAA. He's mentioned prominently in Matthew Goodman's masterpiece, The City Game.

I got Tennessee involved with him and helped them recruit him. He was in the class of '73. Then Bernard was one year later, the class of '74. The year after, Earl Chapman out of August Martin, who was a very good player. Only stayed a semester. Then transferred to Rhode Island. A 6'8" kid from August Martin High School.


I know unequivocally... The guy who absolutely eschewed Broadway. Joe would only act off, off, off Broadway. Not even close.

I saw him when he should have been a senior in high school, in a few tournaments. The Marsh Lou tournament, Port Chester CYP. I saw him in the Rucker. I saw him in some of the New York-Philly all-star games. Let me tell you how good he was. In 1970, he's 20 years old. He was playing for the Allentown Jets. They won the Eastern League. [Hammond] never went to high school. Was registered by Donald Adams because Donald Adams was the coach at Cooper Junior High when he went to Cooper Junior High, but he never went to high school. Never. Never played a high school game.

He's 20 years old. This is the Harlem Professional League in 1970. The All Rookie team was Ric Cobb, the center of Marquette's NIT Championship team who went to Commerce High School. Played at Marquette. 6'6". Played at Marquette, where he was an assistant under Rick Majerus. Then the head coach of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. Charlie Scott, Naismith Hall of Fame. Dave Cowens out of Florida State, Naismith Hall of Fame. Tiny Archibald, Naismith Hall of Fame and Joe Hammond. That was the all rookie team. Joe Hammond got the MVP of the league at 20. QED, quod erat demonstrandum.

He could really score. He was skinny. He was quick and athletic, he had a great sense for the game, he could get to the basket, he had... I don't remember him shooting deep threes or anything like that, but he could get anywhere on the floor that he wanted to get with the ball. He had a very good mid-range pull up and he could get to the basket , but he had a trickery and sorcery, and he just had great basketball instincts.


So Connie Hawkins was my first hardwood hero, and the first time I saw him was in the New York-Philly All-Star game at P.S. 127 in East Elmhurst on August 8, 1959. He was one month shy of his senior year at Boys High. He had played on the city championship team in '58-'59 at Boys High.

And Hawkins played against Philadelphia. He played, if I remember, in white clam diggers. And he played with a chip on his shoulder because Milton Gross, who was the columnist for the New York Post, had written that people around here thought that Boys High was the best team there was, best high school team there was. They had won the PSAL in '59, convincingly, but down in Washington, DC, there was Archbishop Carroll that had a kid who was a senior, Tom Hoover.

Tom ended up going to Villanova and ended up playing for the Knicks. He was one of the first enforcers in the history of the NBA. He was a senior on that team. A junior on that team was John Thompson, the legendary coach at Georgetown. George Leftwich also, and Edward “Monk” Malloy, who was a senior that went on a scholarship to Notre Dame and later became the president of Notre Dame. Father Edward Malloy, they called him “Monk” Malloy.

Because of that, now, Tom Hoover was a D.C. guy but he was going to Villanova, so he probably spent the summer in Philadelphia. And he played with the Philadelphia team. And Connie Hawkins had something to show because of that. Tom Hoover was a good player and much stronger than Hawkins. Hawkins was, at that time, probably 6'6", maybe 6'7", and Tom Hoover was a good 6'8" but probably outweighed him by about 40 pounds.

At one point in the game Hawkins blocks his shot and knocks him into the fence. And 40 years [later]... I haven't been to P.S. 127 probably in the last 15, 20 years, but 40 years after that the fence was still bent. The rod on the fence was still bent from where Hawkins knocked him into the fence.

Hawkins was special. He palmed rebounds out of the air. Didn't cup them, he palmed them. And he had a great feel for the game. He was not a perimeter scorer, was really a transcendent athlete and had just a good feel for the game. Could really pass, was a quick jumper, had those long arms and huge hands. He'd palm the ball off the dribble, he'd palm rebounds out of the air, and he was so exciting of a player. I was fortunate that I grew up in a golden age of New York City basketball.


Connie was [Class of] ‘60 out of Boys High, Roger Brown was ‘60 out of Wingate. Roger Brown went to Dayton, Connie Hawkins went to Iowa. And they had been befriended by a guy by the name of Jack Molinas who was the evil genius of American sport who had been barred from the NBA by Maurice Podoloff his rookie year. He was playing for the Fort Wayne Pistons, and he was forwarded to the All-Star Game as a rookie.

And a week before that he was called into Maurice Podoloff's office in Manhattan and he was barred from the NBA for betting on games. And he ended up going back to law school, very smart. And he, with a friend Joe Hack, and whom he had known from years from the Bronx, they were the masterminds of the point shaving scandal in '61, which really involved many more teams, many more players than the point shaving scandal of '51, which was really like seven schools. And other sports were involved too. There's rumors that he had an NFL quarterback in his pocket, that he had referees in his pocket, and whatever. In any event, he had befriended Hawkins and Brown and he would drive him around, he had a Cadillac, and he would give him some money and whatever.

And supposedly the reason that they lost their eligibility and why they were initially barred from the NBA is because they didn't take money to shave games because they were only going to be on freshmen teams that year. Now, maybe in the future Molinas was going to ask them to do that, but they introduced Molinas and Joe Hacker to other college players, Vinny Brewer from Iowa State and some other college players. Now, Connie Hawkins was very naive, and he swears he didn't know what Molinas was up to. And here's a kid who's dirt poor. Didn't have a telephone lived at 86 Lexington Avenue in Bedford Stuyvesant. Didn't have a telephone, that's how poor he was. And this guy would give him some money and let Roger Brown, who drove, drive around his Cadillac with Connie.

And did Roger Brown know? I have no idea, but Connie Hawkins really was sort of naive, and he probably didn't know what was going on. So as a result they were barred from playing in the NBA. Connie Hawkins, there was an American Basketball League a year later, in '61-'62 it started up, and he played in that and was the MVP for the Pittsburgh team. And then he played for the Globetrotters until the ABA was founded in '67-’'68. And he was the MVP the first two years in the ABA before the NBA let him in. The NBA realized that he had a lawsuit pending against them and they were going to lose it in court and they allowed the Phoenix Suns to sign him. As part of the agreement they paid into an annuity he would get for the rest of his life, which back then in 1969 was considerable, $25,000 a year. This is when the league minimum was $15,000. And he would do community work long after he retired as a player. He was a goodwill ambassador for Phoenix Suns out there.

What I will say is that if Connie Hawkins played his four years in Iowa and after the NBA in the Fall of '64, he would have gone down as one of the 10 greatest players ever to play the game. Elgin Baylor was Connie Hawkins before Connie Hawkins. Connie Hawkins was Julius Erving before Julius Erving. Julius Erving was David Thompson before David Thompson. David Thompson was Michael Jordan before Michael Jordan.


I don't think I saw him play until he transferred from Montclair Kimberley Academy to St. Pat’s. I had heard about him. I knew his father very well, Drederick. Drederick was [Class of] 1984 out of Adlai Stevenson who went up and played at Boston U. Was in their hall of fame. Grew up in the Mitchel Houses. Grew up in the same building as Rod Strickland. In fact, Rod Strickland, who is one year younger than Dredrick, is Kyrie's godfather. I don't think I saw him until his junior year. He was good. He was very good, but they also had Dexter Strickland who was McDonald's All-American that year. They had Michael Gilchrist. He was good. I wouldn't have thought [Kyrie] ended up at this level.

Let's just see if he brings a championship to this team. I know there's a lot of dispute about that, but there's no dispute that he's one of the most skilled guards maybe ever to play the game. His command of the ball. More shakes than Tom Carvel. More spin cycles than Maytag. He can make the ball sing.


LeBron was only there one time, when he came going into his sophomore year and LeBron was playing in the Development League because the whole concept of the Development League was to have kids pay their dues and play with their peers.

So all these top sophomores would try to get into the same league. [LeBron] is playing in the Development League and then another kid from Ohio, ironically, Robert Hites leaves early, a 6'3” lefty guard, good player. Leaves early to go to an AAU tournament.

Naturally Howard Garfinkel goes postal, but then he offered LeBron a chance to move up. And LeBron said, "Well, I really, really like playing with my team. I'd like to stay with them." So he let him stay with his team. And he played in two divisions. Normally, if Five-Star kids play two games a day, he played four games a day. And LeBron became, in the summer of 2000, the only player in the history of Five-Star to make the all-star game in two separate leagues.


We thought the best players would be forwards. Lenny Cooke the year before is MVP of the Underclassman All Star game. And he was coming back in 2000 and Clark Francis had him at number one in the senior class. Whether he was or wasn't, he was certainly one of the best.

And then Carmelo was coming and so was LeBron. Carmelo had to go back to summer school... Had to go to summer school, so he only played one game at ABCD. Came in on a Saturday. He played Sunday afternoon's game on Court Four, on the rubber court, against Lenny Cooke. And Lenny Cooke came back and beat him in overtime, he played really well. And then Carmelo had to go down to summer school.

For the last regular season camp game LeBron would play against Lenny Cooke, and it would be on Court Two, this before the playoffs started that second to last night of camp. And Lenny Cooke ended up with nine points, shot 4-for-10 from the field, 0-for-1 from three, 1-for-3 from the foul line, three rebounds, one assist, two turnovers. LeBron had 24 points, shot 9-for-14, two for six from three, four for five from the foul line, two blocks, six assists, one steal. Remember he hit that sort of step back, pull up to win the game? Remember that?

They won by two, it was a tight game. So that's where LeBron became the King. And that's where Lenny Cooke started to lose some of his luster.


It was the greatest debut in the history of high school basketball, only rivaled by Tracy McGrady at ABCD in 1996. First of all, here's how Michael gets to Five-Star Basketball Camp.

There used to be a high school All-American game called the Seamco Classic. It was played up at Kutsher's Sports Academy, and it ran from 1971 through 1983, for 13 years. The format was on Memorial Day Weekend, played on that Sunday of Memorial Weekend. And the format was New York/New Jersey versus the United States. Well, in 1980, North Carolina had two players who were playing in the game: Sam Perkins, who was from Brooklyn, originally Tilden High School, but he had been a Latham Shaker; Shaker High School in Latham, New York, outside of Albany. And Matt Doherty, who later coached Notre Dame and North Carolina.

And North Carolina’s Dean Smith probably wanted to spend the Memorial Weekend at the Outer Banks. So he had Roy Williams, who was the Restricted Earnings coach at the time, who supported himself by selling basketball calendars throughout the state of North Carolina, go up there to show them love. You know, they had already signed. There was no early signing period until 1982. So this is a couple of years before that, but they had already signed in the April signing period. But Roy Williams asked me, "Do you want to go up with me?" And I would go up every year anyhow.

So I went up, and we're driving up on 17 West, going up to Monticello. And Roy Williams says to me, "You know, there's a kid on the coast of Carolina who could be a great player. He's been to our camp, but we don't have really good talent in our camp. We don't know how good he is. Do you think he could be a waiter at Five Star?" And I said, "Yeah, I'm sure, yes. What's his name?" "Mike Jordan." "How tall is he?" "Oh, six-three, six-four."

In any event, he gave me his coach's number, Cliff Herring, and I said, "I'm going to go back and I'll give Howie Garfinkel the information and he'll call him up." And they set up the camper-worker for him because there'll be 36 camper workers each session. Twelve would come and set up the tables for the meals, 12 would bring out the trays, and the other 12 would clean up the tables. And in exchange for doing that, they'd get two weeks for the cost of one.

He comes to Pittsburgh Two, not Pittsburgh One. And he was going to go Pittsburgh Two and Pittsburgh Three. And Brendan Malone's wife, Maureen, had a motorbike accident in Rockville Center, [Long Island].

Brendan Malone, when he was an assistant at Syracuse, wasn't able to sell his home in Rockville Center, so he took an apartment in Syracuse and his family lived in Rockville Center. Well, during Pittsburgh One, and Brendan would always work Pittsburgh One and Pittsburgh Two. During Pittsburgh One, Maureen had a motorbike accident and she had seven stitches in her head and she was kept overnight at Peninsula Hospital in Rockville Center, and then released. She was okay, but it was like a day and a half between the sessions. And Brendan wanted to go home to see. He asked me to draft his team.

Well, the year before in Pittsburgh Two, he had had ... At Five Star you would pick numbers out of a hat. There normally would be 12 teams in the NBA, you pick one through 12. Little pieces of paper rolled up, you pick out of a hat.

The first round would be Centers. If you had the first pick, you would get the first Center. And then you go one through 12. Well, if you had the 12th pick, then the second round would be in reverse order, would be Point Guards. If you have the 12th Center, you get the first Point Guard. And for a long time, it would always go back and forth through nine rounds, one to 12, 12 to one, one to 12, 12 to one, and so on. And the first round was Centers. Second was Point Guards. Third was Shooting Guards. Fourth was Power Forwards. Fifth, was Small Forwards.

But in any event, the year before, [Malone] had had two kids from Wichita, Greg Dreiling, 7’1” white kid from Kapaun Mt. Carmel High School, who went to Kansas and ended up playing for the Pacers for many years. And Aubrey Sherrod from Wichita Heights High School, who was a teammate with Antoine Carr. He was a sophomore when Antoine Carr was a senior. And he had a big reputation, mainly because people knew Antoine Carr. And Aubrey Sherrod was a lefty, about 6’3”, and people considered him the top Shooting Guard prospect in that camp.

Brendan Malone, the year before, had gotten the number one pick, and he picked Dreiling and Sherrod, and those two kids were coming back to that same session, Pittsburgh Two, in 1980. So he asked me to draft his team. I got the first pick by just sheer luck, got the first pick, and picked Dreiling, and therefore I got the first pick on the third round of Shooting Guards, and took Jordan over Sherrod.

Well, the next morning he comes down and flies back in, and where the old Pittsburgh Airport was, was literally four minutes from the Robert Morris campus. And he's walking down to the dining hall, he says, "Show me the team you drafted for me." And he said, "First of all, what pick did you get?" And I said, "One." He said, "Oh, you took Dreiling." "Yes." "You took Sherrod?" I said, "No." He said, "Who did you take?" "Mike. Mike Jordan." And his response was, "Who the F is that?"

That week, he was the Most Outstanding Player with John “Chocolate Thunder Two” Flowers. Darryl Dawkins Chocolate Thunder was a big rage at the time. And John Flowers from Gary West Side High School, who was about 6’9”, 230, he wrote all over his t-shirts with magic marker, Chocolate Thunder Two. He ended up going to Indiana, transferred to UNLV, but they were the most outstanding players for the week. But Jordan won the one-on-one contest. He was the leading scorer for the week, and he was the MVP of the Orange-White classic, the all-star game.

Now, he stayed for Pittsburgh Three. I didn't stay for Pittsburgh Three. I went back to New York, but what happened is, he got hurt. He hurt his ankle. And back then there were eight regular season [camp] games before the playoffs. He played in four, and that's when Five-Star put in the rule to qualify to play in the all-star game, you had to play in 50% of the games, which he made. And he was the MVP of the all-star game for the second week in a row. But he didn't get Most Outstanding Player for the camp. Lester Rowe from Buffalo, who went to West Virginia and played for Gale Catlett, and later became an assistant to Gale Catlett, was the most outstanding player for that week. That's the answer to a trivia question, who was Most Outstanding Player at Pittsburgh Three in 1980 over Michael Jordan?

Mike was the best player in camp. And Howie Garfinkel, when he saw him the first time, his first game, went to a little office off from the John Jay Gym at Robert Morris, and called Dave Kreider, who used to do the high school section for Street & Smith. And he said, you've got to have this guy on the First Team, All-American. And Dave Kreider said, "Who?" "Michael Jordan." He had never heard of him. And he said that not only wouldn't he be on the first team, but we had to get all the copy to the printer 10 days ago. He wasn't even in the magazine.

Fast forward, Michael Jordan made [the Chicago Bulls] better. He made them better just because he drove them. He wouldn’t accept anything less. He was so consumed, he's almost pathologically competitive. And I mean, that's what really defines Michael Jordan. It’s not his athleticism, his extraterrestrial athleticism, it’s his will. He's consumed with winning.


The first I saw Albert King, he was in the 7th grade. He was playing for St. James Pro-Cathedral in CYO. It was a game at St. Thomas Aquinas, where they played the Monsignor King Tournament in Brooklyn. Then I saw him maybe about a month later in a finals for a tournament at... It's actually placed at the girl's high school, St. Agnes High School in College Point. He was in the finals of that. I'd seen him since he was in the 7th grade. Very, very talented. Very athletic.

People knew about him mainly because of Bernard. Bernard coming out of high school wasn't the national name that Albert was. What happened is, there used to be that high school all american game called the Seamco Classic on Memorial Weekend. Bernard was a senior in '74. Albert was a 9th grader at Sands Junior High School. Rodney Parker had talked Moses Malone into coming up there to play in the game.

There were no limits on the number of schools you could visit or how many times. Moses was supposed to visit CY. He put off the visit twice. Then that weekend, Memorial weekend, they had the Miss Black America Teenage Beauty Pageant in Honolulu. They said to Moses to visit that weekend. He was named one of the judges. Rodney Parker, the iconic Rodney Parker had gotten friendly with him at the Dapper Dan. He talked Moses into going to... Went to the mountains, not to the seashore. Went to the mountains that weekend. Rodney Parker and Winston Corinne, who was Rodney's friend and was very close with Albert... Actually got closer with Albert than Rodney. They went up. Albert went up there. Spent the whole weekend. Moses hung out with them. He didn't hang out with Skip Wise. He didn't hang out with Mike Mitchell. He didn't hang out with Tony Smith, Mark Wolfmeyer, Bruce Campbell. He hung out with Rodney Parker because he wasn't very vocal. He didn't speak very much. He just sort of mumbled.

Albert would be playing three-on-three against him. All these college coaches... The Moses sweepstakes by then were down to New Mexico and Maryland. It may have been one other school. All these coaches knew about Albert because he was in 9th grade and he's playing against Moses up in and Kutsher’s in pickup games, two-on-two or whatever. He had a tremendous reputation. He certainly was one of the best players in the class of '77, which was an elite class. Gene Banks, Wayne McKoy, Earvin "Magic" Johnson, who obviously took his game the furthest of any of them. Jeff Ruland, Danny Ainge, Cliff Robinson, Darnell Valentine, Jeff Lamp, Wayne McKoy.

Albert was a very, very good high school player and a very, very good college player. His best year was his junior year. His Achilles heel in high school... He wasn't a great outside shooter. He did everything, but. He had great quickness to his game. He has a great second and third jump. He was so quick off the floor. He had very good hands. He could pass the ball. He could handle a little bit. He wasn't a good perimeter scorer. That became the best thing he did his junior and senior year in college at Maryland and what he did in the NBA became a shooter because he was in the summer session the summer before. He had one of the managers feed him at Cole Field House all summer. He really improved his outside shot.

He and Bernard and the rest of the family -- there were three other brothers and one sister -- grew up at 79 North Oxford Walk, Apartment 12G, in Fort Greene Projects. He had a different childhood because Bernard was a project kid. Albert had been adopted by... When I say adopted, not literally, but had become the prize project of Rodney Parker, who had friends, Lucia Feld and Jerry Davis, the agents. He would work in their office during the summer. He'd always have spending money. He had nice clothes. He would stay whenever he wanted to. He wouldn't stay in Fort Greene. He'd stay with Winston Kareem in Flatbush in his apartment. He wasn't as hungry as Bernard. That was the difference between Bernard and Albert. Albert probably at an early age was recognized as a really good player, but he didn't have the toughness and the will that Bernard had. He had a good career. He was a good player. He's a very good person, but he didn't have the toughness and he didn't have the will of his older brother, Bernard.


I never saw him in high school. He went to Raleigh Broughton and then he went to a prep school and he averaged for his three years in varsity 44.2. He scored 3,667 points. Which is still the record for Division I, but he wasn't about winning. I blame that on his father. Never went to the NCAA tournament. His senior year, they played in the NIT, and they had forwards Sanders and Newton, they were good enough to go to maybe challenge Kentucky or [inaudible 01:41:19] and Dampier to go to NCAA. The father was all about promoting his son. I remember after there were, after watching, Marquette played their first round game and Al Maguire coached Marquette.

Al Maguire defensively played a very athletic game, he would press, but offensively he played a very conservative game. You would have thought he had five white kids and he was coaching at Princeton, but he played sort of a slow game. Press Maravich's remark was after watching them playing their first round game, watching Marquette play offense is like watching paint dry. It was quoted in the papers. Well, they met in the semifinals and Marquette beat him by 20. Pete had maybe like high 20s, low 30s. He didn't have his average, anything near his average. He was probably, at his size, the most skilled player who ever played the game, 6'5". The command he had of the dribble, what he could do with the ball. He wasn't raised to win the game.


Eric Marbury didn't play for Bobby Hartsein [at Lincoln]. He was '78 and he went to the University of Georgia, played with Dominique Wilkins. A great athlete, less of a guard than the other brothers. He was about 6’2 and a half, 6’3”. His nickname was Sky Dog because he jumped so high.

And then the next one was Donald, and he was class of '82. He played for Bobby Hartstein. Went to a junior college and then Texas A&M and was a very, very good college player, especially his junior year.

Then the next was Norman, who was an all-city player in '90, who signed with Tennessee. Didn't end up going there, he ended up playing briefly at St. Francis College. When they all came along, everyone in Coney Island thought they'd win a city championship and they'd all go to the pros. Well, that didn't happen. They didn't win the city championship and they didn't go to the pros.

But, Stephon, who started from his freshman year on, '91-'92, won the city championship for the family and certainly went to the pros and had a good pro career. He won the city championship in '95, beating Robeson in The Garden and then played only one year at Georgia Tech, and leaving after one year. Bobby Cremins thought he was going to get a second year out of him. But he's a great player.

And the youngest was Zach who played for Tiny Morton. Good player, Rhode Island. But I mean not on the level of certainly not as Stefan, no. They were the basketball family of Coney Island.

And look at all the other great players who've come out of Coney Island: Jamel Thomas, Sebastian Telfair, Lance Stephenson, Isaiah Whitehead. So Lincoln has had a tremendous tradition.


Well, that was the summer of Anthony Perry, Lamar Odom, Tracy McGrady, and Dion Glover. Dion Glover was the MVP of the All-Star game. He had 37. But the [McGrady] dunk, I didn't see.

Back then, ABCD and Nike All-American were at the same time. And I would spend the first few days there and then I'd go to Nike or whatever. So I didn't see his famous dunk. His iconic dunk.

But I mean, obviously. Here's a guy, he was at Auburndale High School in Florida. And no one knew him. His AAU coach, Travis Smith, had met Joel Hopkins and sent him to Mt. Zion, but he wasn't on anyone's list. He wasn't on Bob Gibbons' pre-season top 500. He wasn't on Clark Francis' pre-season 750, or whatever. No one knew him. So next to Michael Jordan's debut at Five-Star, this was probably the greatest coming up party in high school history.


He won four years in a row. His first freshman year, Jeff Lebo was a senior. And that was Dave Lebo, the father's first state championship, but he went all four years. He played in the NBA, but he wasn't the player he should have been. But he was a great... He played for a great high school coach. Dave Lebo, Jeff's father, was a terrific coach. And he got the most out of him.

And he was a guy... By the time he was a senior, he was 6'7" or 6'8", and he could handle a ball like a guard. He could shoot three pointers, he could go inside and post up. Did everything, absolutely everything. I remember going out... Saw him as a freshman at Harrisburg High School and the only other high school game I saw him in... He'd come to Five-Star, so I'd see him at Five-Star.

The only other high school game, the same year, a friend of mine, Joe Mulholland, I rode out with him and we went out on a Saturday. They were playing Coatesville. And we went and we had dinner with Dave Lebo before the game. And they played Coatesville, which was a good program. And he had 38 against him, but he did everything. I mean, he was all over the court. He's arguably the most complete player in that class of '88 that had Stanley Roberts, that had Shawn Kemp, that had so many terrific players. And he got... He had injuries and he got heavy and, "More have been slain by suppers, than by the sword." Remember that.

Let me tell you how good Owens was.There was a summer league game in Carlisle, on an outdoor court and not with great players. And the schools that were recruiting were there. Dean Smith was there. And for Dean Smith to go to a Summer League game was big. For Zeus to come down from Mount Olympus was big. Because he was Zeus, believe me. Not Krzyzewski at that time, he was Zeus. And Jim Boeheim was there. And Rollie [Massimino] was there, Rollie who had won the national championship two years before. And that night, none of them sat together, but Dean Smith would be by himself and he wouldn't really say much to the other people. Rollie and Boeheim, because they've coached, again, knew each other when they were friendly, they didn't sit together, but when Billy Owens would do things, they'd look over at each other and roll their eyes. They said that that night it was like a gale wind. Billy Owens was shooting threes through the gale wind and making them all. He had 61 that night, and Dean Smith after that was quoted as saying he was the best high school player he'd ever seen.

After [Dean Smith] saw Alcindor in the city final at St. John's when they beat my school, Molloy with Rudy Bogart, he was there recruiting Rudy Bogart and they beat Molloy, 65-41. He was quoted in the Long Island Press, in Al Spitz's column as saying the same thing, “Best high school player he ever saw.” One was '64 and this was 23 years later in '87. They said he was unbelievable, Boeheim and Rollie told me that that night they couldn't believe it. They just kept on looking back at each other. They couldn't believe that anybody could, it was so, he was making these threes through this, almost through this tornado.


He probably couldn't fly like Mike, but he could have developed it. The plyometrics came into the game in the seventies and with Michael Jordan when he was at Laney High School at practice. Plyometrics, who knows? It was mainly the Eastern Europeans. But certainly, if Oscar played in today's game, he'd play above the rim; there's no question about that. But look at the musculature on his thighs; unbelievable. He had such a regal game. On his jump shot, he'd take his guide hand off early and it was almost like he's shooting a one-handed shot, the way George McGinnis shot it. He was the gold standard.

The ultimate compliment that... Walt Hazzard was on the 1964 Olympic team that played in Tokyo, and Bill Bradley was on the team. He told Bill Bradley... and this was the ultimate compliment: "Where I come from in West Philly, they call you “The White O.” For people of that era, Oscar Robinson was the gold standard. What a compliment that was to Bill Bradley to be compared to him.


Four straight City Championships. He was a man. He was a man physically, and he was fearless. I mean, from the time going into his freshman year, when he went head to head at ABCD with O.J. Mayo, and he wouldn't back down. He was fearless.

I had only wished that he had stayed in Indianapolis, in Indiana. He was away from New York, and he had reinvented himself as a player because when he was in high school, he was all about buckets and nothing else. And when he was with the Pacers, that year he led the NBA in triple doubles and he was the designated defender who could defend multiple positions, who could defend up and down. He could probably defend three positions.

And he rebounded and he was a very good passer, and he did so many things other than score. And I wish he had re-signed with them and stayed there. Larry Bird really liked him. And I wish he had stayed with the Pacers.


David Thompson was Michael Jordan's hero growing up. He had David walk him up when he was entered in 2009 in the Naismith Hall of Fame. Even though Michael Jordan was a North Carolina (UNC) fan, David Thompson was his favorite player. He'd be on my all-time college team, first team. He was just so dominating. He was a good pro, he scored 60, and maybe led the league in scoring, but unfortunately he had substance abuse problems and he didn't have the career he should have had. But he was taught by someone who was... He was about as high of a jumper as you'll ever see.


Well, my line on him was, “He scores like we breathe.” He could really, really score and a nice kid. It's a shame that he had the health problems that he had. His son is a very good player. They call him “Juannie.” And he's a freshman at Camden High playing for Rick Brunson. And he's just like a 6'2", six-two-and-a-half guard who's very, very good. Will he be as good as his father -- who knows?


Had he stayed healthy, could possibly have been the most complete center ever to play the game. You know for two, or three years with Portland, he was just tremendous. He did more things. He could pass, he'd rebound, he defended, and he could score. He was a tremendous athlete. Shame he couldn't say healthy. I know a lot of people think he was the most complete center who ever played the game, but for a very short window.


Let me tell you what. Dwayne Washington, I was lucky to know him well, and had a great heart and he looked like a killer, but he was the nicest person, the gentlest person. He didn't love the game. He didn't really work at it the way he should have. He scored effortlessly in high school without shooting from the outside. Only after he started facing some zones his freshman year did he work on it, and then he had a terrific career. Jim Boeheim says that Pearl Washington, more than anyone else, is the person who made Syracuse basketball.



I think Tiny Archibald would be on my all-time New York City Team. The guards will be Tiny Archibald and Bob Cousy, who in tandem with Dick McGuire invented the position of point guard. Frontcourt would obviously be [Kareem] Abdul-Jabbar and Connie Hawkins. I put Bernard King I think on it. The way they ended up, not the way they were in high school.


I always said that the best teams I've ever seen in high school were the three [Lew] Alcindor teams from the sophomore, junior, and senior year, that lost one game. They'd won 71 in a row, before DeMatha beat them 46-43 on January 30th the same year, in '65.

Those three, the Power Memorial team of 1970, with three All-Americans -- Ed Searcy, Jap Trimble, and Len Elmore -- that beat an undefeated Molloy team 82-61 with Brian Winters in the city final.

And Dunbar of Baltimore, not the David Wingate team but the next year, '82-83, because I thought Reggie Williams was just so much better than his junior year, and Muggsy Bogues was also. They had Muggsy Bogues, Reggie Williams, and Reggie Lewis, who ended up an NBA All-Star, was the sixth man on Dunbar.

And their other three starters were Tim Dawson, who went to Miami, 6’5” transferred to GW. Keith James, a 6’5" guard who went to UNLV, and Michael Brown, who was a junior on that team 6’3" went to Syracuse. He was a McDonald's All-American the next year.

So those are five teams. I’d also put in the St. Anthony's team. The best St. Anthony's team, I think I saw was '89. Because, even though they had the team with all the guards in 2008 where they had the five Division I guards and they were undefeated, and Bob Hurley had five or six undefeated teams.

But their team in 1989, they never had anyone who was tougher mentally than Bobby Hurley. And they never had anyone who was tougher physically than Jerry Walker. And then the third guy was Terry Dehere, who at the end of his career at Seton Hall was the all-time career scorer in the history of the Big East, since broken a number of times.

And [St. Anthony had] Roderick Rhodes, who was a freshman at the time it was started, who was a McDonald's All-American in '92, went to Kentucky. So those were great teams.

When you talk about New York, I think the best team in New York City, probably in the last 40 years was Christ the King in '89. Because on that team, they had three McDonald's All-Americans. Now two were juniors who made McDonald's the next year, but as a senior, you had Jamal Faulkner 6’7", who signed with Pitt, didn't make grades, ended up going to Arizona State, transferred to Alabama.

You had Carl Beckett who was a 6’4" senior, who went to St. John's, was the captain of St. John's. You had Gerald Burnside. And you had the two juniors who the next year were McDonald's All-Americans. Derrick Phelps, who was the point guard in North Carolina's national championship team of 1993, and is currently an assistant of Washington state with Kyle Smith, and Khalid Reeves, who went to Arizona, who was the first round draft pick in the Miami Heat and the 13th pick, I believe, in the '94 draft.

And when he left Arizona, he was the all-time career scorer, since broken. Khalid Reeves, the same year, was MVP in the McDonald's All-American game at Market Square Arena in Indianapolis. I think that was probably the strongest team, even John Sarandrea who recruited Jamal Faulkner for Pitt, and had coached the Tolentine team the year before they beat Molloy in the finals with Malik Sealy as the senior. The sophomore tandem of Brian Reese, Adrian Autrey. [Sarandrea] even said he thought that Christ the King team was the best team, better than his team. So a lot of great teams in New York.


The Oak Hill team that probably has the most talent was '93, because you have two McDonald's All-Americans. Jerry Stackhouse was one of the best players Steve Smith ever had there, who currently coaches Vanderbilt University, and Jeff McInnis. And then you had Makhtar N’Diaye who went to the University of Michigan. And they were undefeated. They weren't the No. 1 team in USA TODAY because I think USA TODAY had Martin Luther King Rashad Griffith's team, and Thomas Hamilton seemed that year.


Good team, but not better than the teams I’ve mentioned. But, I’ll tell you what, they're fun to watch because of the way they play. When the ball reached Lonzo’s hands, the game sped up. And he just got shots for everyone. And the irony is everyone's talking about LaMelo being the best point guard prospect.

And they always say, "Well, he can really pass, a tremendous passer, he can really create on penetration." That sort of thing. They say he can't shoot. Well, all he did as a freshman is shoot. And I don't think I've seen him play since his freshman year. When he played with his brother Lonzo, he would run down the court. He'd leak out and run down the court to the right baseline, past the three point arc and Lonzo would hit him with a 60-foot pass, and he'd have an open three.

Now it was a set shot where he didn't get much elevation on his shot, and that's supposed to be one of the criticisms of the shot now, a low point of release, and he doesn't get his legs into a shot, that sort of thing. But that was the one thing he did when he was a freshman. Now they say he can't do it, so I don't know.


Too difficult to say. Morgan Wootten and Bob Hurley have to be on it. And beyond that, I know I went to Molloy. I'm partial to Jack Curran. So I will probably try to put him on there. I mean, how many great high school coaches have there been? I'll tell you who was a great high school coach, Stu Vetter, who took four different programs to be nationally ranked. Flint Hill and Harker Prep and St. John Prospect Hall, and then Montrose Christian. Great coach, not a good coach.

Steve Smith at Oak Hill, what a record he has. What about Gary McKnight? Unbelievable program. I mean, he's Chairman of the Board, he's the Ronald Reagan, but what a program he has.


In the 93-year history of the CHSAA, it's hard to limit it, but I came up with four definites: Jack Curran (Molloy), Jack Donohue (Power Memorial), Lou Carnesecca who coached eight years before Jack Caren replaced him at Molloy. He went to St. Anne's, Class of '43, and then coached St. Anne's, which then became Molloy. [Carnesecca] coached at St. Anne's for seven years, from '50 to '57. And the last year he was at Molloy was '58 and they were 33-0. Willie Haul, his star, went to St. John’s and he went with him to be [Joe] Lapchick’s assistant.

Those three and Mo Hicks. Mo Hicks coached 15 years at Rice, and won six City Championships, which is the record. Jack Curran won five, Herb Pess (?) won five, Joe Arbitello (Christ The King) now has won five, but Rice won six in 15 years, which is unbelievable.


New York was the Mecca for high school basketball; no longer. Not that we don't have good players, but we don't have the depth of elite players that we had. The rest of the country has caught up, and it's just not the rest of the cities in the country that have caught up, the whole country.

I don't think there's any question that the best league 25, 30 years ago was the New York City Catholic League, the CHSAA. I don't think there's any question nowadays that the best league is the WCAC, Washington Catholic Athletic Conference. Now there are only 11 schools in it, and it's a two-tiered league, but the top tier, the DeMatha's, the Gonzaga's, the St. John's VI, the O'Connell's. Archbishop Carroll is coming back; they had been weak for a while, a long time, but they were great back in the late fifties, early sixties, and whatever. I'd say the Washington Catholic League is probably the best league now.

There've been years in the past that... It used to be the Red-South/Central in the Chicago Public League because South Central has Morgan Park, has Simeon, has Curie, has so many teams like that.

The West has some very good teams too, because they have Orr, they have Whitney Young, and so on. But probably the best public league, I'd say is probably the Red-South/Central in Chicago. The best Catholic League and the best overall I'd say is the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference.


Nationally, I don't think there's any question, the class of '79. Well, first of all, let me go over the class. The centers, which wasn't the strongest position, but you had Ralph Sampson, the only three-time national college player of the year. You had Sam Bowie who would have been a great, great, great pro had he not had the recurrent foot problems for the fifth metatarsal. He was picked one spot ahead of Michael Jordan in the '84 draft. You had Steve Stipanovich. You had Tim Andree. You had guys like that. Ozell Jones. Wasn't a strong center class.

The guards. You had Isiah Thomas. You had Raymond McCoy who had a much bigger reputation in Chicago until the state tournament at University of Illinois, Isiah's junior year, where they came in third. He had a breakout tournament. You had those people. You had John Paxson. You had Dirk Minniefield. You had Darrell Walker. You had Eric Sandefur. You had Tony "Red" Bruin. You had Quintin Dailey. You had Ricky Ross. You had so many guards.

Now the strongest position was forwards. You had James Worthy, Dominique Wilkins, Antoine Carr, Sid Green, Rodney McCray, Terry Cummings, Cliff Levingston, Derrick Ward, Charles Hart. The best as they were in high school, the best forward in that class, Clark Kellogg. Now he didn't end up the best, but he was the best in that class as he was in high school. When he played in the Seamco Classic in 1979, he got the MVP. At the half, he had 37. I think he only had four the second half, but he had 37 in the first half. He could handle a ball like a guard. He could shoot. You didn't have three point shots then, but he could shoot from that distance accurately. He had a big, strong body. He rebounded. He was terrific. Had great hands. I think '79 is the strongest class.

The last real mega class recently I would have said was 2007. We had Derrick Rose and Eric Gordon and O.J. Mayo and Kyle Singler, Kevin Love and Michael Beasley, Blake Griffin and guys like that. There's been a lot. '60 was a really good class. We talked about the first high school All-American game and who played in it. Connie Hawkins, George Wilson and so on. '77 was a really good class. Have been a lot of really good classes. '88 was a good class. With '88 you had Shawn Kemp. You had Billy Owens. Billy Owens was a great high school player. Wasn't as good of a college or a pro player, but he was a great high school player. He could do everything. He could play five positions.


Well, Steph Curry's right there, and his ability to create a shot. See, his father was a terrific three-point shooter, Dell, but he didn't have his ability to create the shot the way Steph does. Ray Allen was a great shooter, obviously. Dale Ellis was a great shooter. Players from New York, going back, Billy Lawrence of Molloy was a great shooter; class of 1961, Eldridge Webb out of Boys High, 1964, Brian Winters, 1970, picture of a beautiful shot as you'll ever see. Chris Mullin, a great shooter...There are a lot of them.

Then just from my youth, Tony Jackson and Roger Brown. Roger Brown, when he surfaced in the ABA, his nickname was “The Man of a Thousand Moves.” In high school at Wingate, he didn't put the ball on the floor. There was no three-pointer, but he hit intergalactic jumpers from maybe even the other side of half court and not as buzzer beaters, or he posts up in the short baseline. He had great lift off two feet and he'd just take turnaround jump shots and shoot over people. But he wasn't good at putting the ball on the floor. He totally reinvented himself when he came to the ABA. So, Roger Brown was a great shooter when he was young, and Tony Jackson was a great shooter. Those were great shooters.


Well, in the eighties and the nineties, those were the two mega AAU programs in New York. Back then when they started, especially like in the eighties, there weren't a lot of AAU tournaments. They would travel to some, they'd go in the BCI at Arizona State, or maybe they'd go out to Vegas, but it was more local summer leagues they were playing, and they have teams in all the divisions from the 12 under or maybe even younger. Many of the kids started in the program and remained the whole time in the program.

Some people would jump back and forth based on playing time and whatever. But it became a very bitter rivalry, unfortunately, where there was a... I wish it could have been played at a higher level of sportsmanship sometimes, but it was a very bitter rivalry and they both wanted to be the King of New York, but that rivalry probably pales in comparison to the rivalry in the fifties and sixties of the New York Gems and the New York Nationals.

New York Gems were coached by Mike Tyneberg, the New York Nationals by Howie Garfinkel. Mike Tyneberg had been Howie Garfinkel's summer camp counselor at camp Mascoma in Enfield, New Hampshire for many years. Then Howie, when he stopped being a camp counselor himself, they were very close, and Mike Tyneberg got Howie involved in basketball. Then they had a big falling out and they became bitter rivals. That's what I grew up with, the Gems and the Nationals.

The level of talent was amazing. For one thing, the Gems... Now, Howie would claim that Mike Tyneberg stole players from him. At one time, Larry Brown played for him, then he went to play for Mike and stole some other players from him because he would give him sneakers, that sort of thing. But certainly, that doesn't get players nowadays, the sneakers.

But back then, you have no idea of the talent that those teams had. Nowadays, an AAU program might brag about how many Division I players they have. If they're exceptional, how many McDonald's All-Americans they have; if they're really exceptional, how many pros they have, like the Atlanta Celtics from the class of 2004, their frontline. They played together since at least the ninth grade on, so in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 were Dwight Howard, Josh Smith and Randolph Morris who were three pros and three McDonald's All-Americans.

But the New York Gems back in 1959 and 1960... I have pictures of this, they would boast about how many... Back then they didn't know because it really didn't actually... The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame only opened in 1959, but they could have boasted on how many Naismith Hall of Famers they had. On the 1959 team, Mike Tyneberg had three, Connie Hawkins, Roger Brown, and Larry Brown, even though he went as a coach, he was an outstanding player in his own right. He was the MVP of one of the early ABA All-Star Games. The next year, he had three, and the next year, he had a Hawkins and Brown who were seniors, and he had Billy Cunningham who was the first frontcourt sub off the team behind Miles Aiken; he was only a junior that year at Erasmus Hall. So I mean, think of AAU teams where they have three guys who make the Naismith Hall of Fame on the team, that's a different level.

The Gauchos and Riverside, all they had was NBA players, and they had a lot of good NBA players. In 1988-1989 season, the NBA gave out two expensive franchises, the Miami Heat and the Charlotte Hornets; the two teams they should have gotten were the Gauchos and Riverside. The Gauchos that year had Kenny Anderson, David Cain, Jamal Mashburn, Eric Mobley, Conrad McRae.


I always throw this name out and I don't like to beat the guy up, he was a really good guy. The guy I thought would be better than he ended up was Barry Bekkedam. He was a Canadian kid who came down and went to Archbishop Carroll in Radnor, PA for his junior and senior year in high school. He was about 6'10" and he was a skinny kid. He was a McDonald's All-American, I believe in 1986. He was a good player at Villanova, but not great; I thought he could be very good.

Now there may be others that I'm missing out on. Chris Mullin, as good as he was, I thought he'd be very, very good, I wouldn't have projected him as a Naismith Hall of Famer. I thought he could be a tremendous college player, and could be an NBA player, but I don't know if I saw... Once again, until you can sink an arthroscope in someone's heart and find out there the degree of commitment to the game and how badly they want it, you can't really tell.


Well, The Palestra is a shrine. And I literally get chills when I walk in there. They have the Philadelphia Catholic League semis and finals there every year and they sell out 8,722. In fact, they more than sell out because for the first... I go to the semis. For the first game of the semis, they have one student body that will stand the entire time in the end zone behind one basket. The other student body will stand behind the other basket at the other end. At the end of the game, they leave, they depart and then the students from the other schools come in. So they've actually had more than 8,700 people in the building.

But when you go there, when you walk around the corridors, they have the history of Philadelphia basketball and the history of The Palestra. The first thing that I always go to is the plaque, "To win the game is great. To play the game is greater. But to love the game is greatest of all." That's the first thing. I always touch that.

And then I go to the high school section, which is on the left. After you walk in the front, you go to the left. And they have a picture of Wilt with his number five jersey, and he's palming a ball in each hand. And underneath that they have the pictures of all the other great players, the Gene Banks, the Kobes, all the great players in the Philly area over the years. And Ernie Cage before Wilt, people like that.

And then I go to where they have, which is right behind the ticket window when you first walk in, the multiple Big Five MVPs, the guys who were MVP of the Big Five more than once. And Rashid Bey, who's someone I like a great deal, a guard... A 5'9" guard who played at St Joe's, played at Saint John Neumann and played at St Joe's. And he was a two time MVP of the Big Five. I always go to see that.

And then I always go to the La Salle one where they have... Tom Gola to this day is the all-time career rebounding record holder in Division I: 2,201 rebounds. And you have pictures of him and his teams and whatever. He won the NCAA championship his junior year in '54. He won the NIT his senior year in '55. And I just walk around the hall. I get there an hour early so I can walk around and take all of this in. And it gives me chills. So that's probably my favorite venue, in terms of college.

And I've only been to one... I've been to AAU games, but I've only been to one college game at Cameron [Indoor Stadium]. So I can't really count that. Fordham, the best Catholic high school playoff games in New York have always been at Fordham rather than at St John's. It's a smaller arena, noise reverberates throughout. It gives more atmosphere than St John's. St John's is too wide open. But all the great high school games in the Catholic League Tournament for 93 years have been there.


I'll tell you what's a great gym is DeMatha's new gym that's been open for about 15 years. But, the old gym where Morgan Wootten coached, it's a small gym. I like that. I like Molloy. Molloy, I always said, was the best practice gym in America, because they... First of all, you have eight baskets. You have three on each side and then the two on the main court, and it's small enough that you don't have to share it with another team. Like you go to Christ the King or St Francis Prep or schools like that. They have, when the varsity boys or girls team is practicing, they have it by themselves. But the freshmen and JV have to split it. And the girl's volleyball being there. And just acoustically, it's not a great place for it. Molloy is small enough that the varsity would be there by themselves. And it was a great practice gym.

But I mean, there are so many gyms and there's so many playgrounds, 155th Street... But I mean, so many... Even The Cage. Their pro-tournament or adult tournament was never quite what it was supposed to be. Now they have a high school one that I go to watch. And I just like it though. I like small gyms and old gyms.

Even Roman Catholic. Now, they play most of their big games at Philadelphia Community College or they'll go to another venue. Because they're on the third floor, and the three-point shot doesn't extend down to the baseline because you don't have room on the side. And I know friends of mine down in Philly will say, "Oh, I'll never go to a game at Roman." I enjoy it though.


I'll tell you what I love. The best one-day event in high school basketball used to be the KMOX Shootout in St. Louis. It would be on the first or second Thursday in December and it was run by a guy by the name of Keith Pickett. And when I first went, it was at the old Kiel Auditorium where the St. Louis Hawks played. Then they moved it to the St. Louis Arena and then to the new Kiel Auditorium. But, I loved that.

And I mean, the different venues for the Indiana State Tournament, Market Square Arena, and then the Hoosier Dome. When Damon Bailey won the State Championship, he went three of the four years to the State Finals... State Finals would have four teams, and they'd play the semi's starting at 10:30 in the morning, and then they'd come back at night for the final. But he got to the finals three times... The Final Four three times. In his senior year in 1990, they won it. And it was the first year of a 10-year contract at the Hoosier Dome, which had just been opened. And they had the biggest crowd in high school history, 41,046 people there. That was tremendous.

And Conseco Fieldhouse I love. [Indiana] had gone to class basketball in '98. Before that it was a single class in Indiana and the purists thought you're ruining high school basketball when you go to class basketball. I know a lot of coaches who won't even go to it. A lot of high school coaches, who've even won it. They won't go to it any longer because it's class basketball. But the first year that they were in Conseco Fieldhouse was 2000, and the 4A game, it was Zach Randolph against Jared Jeffries. And I mean, I've seen great games, a lot of places. And Conseco I like. I have a very fond place in my heart for Conseco. Well, now it's Bankers Life, but I still call it Conseco.

The best high school tournament... For 17 years in a row, I went to the Beach Ball Classic in Myrtle Beach, and it's still very, very good. But now I've started going to the City of Palms in Fort Myers, and that's the best high school tournament there is. Donnie Wilkie runs it, does a great job.

And the best Summer tournament... It's not even close, the Peach Jam. It's the best. It's absolutely the best. And the best Spring event... I'll tell you what I loved in the Spring. And I'd always go to the Boo Williams Invitational, which then became one of the EYBL weekends, up until two years ago. But the one I loved to go to was the Spiece Gym Rats “Run N Slam.” And originally it was at Purdue University. And then they built a fieldhouse in Fort Wayne, the Spiece Fieldhouse, with eight courts. And I loved going there because of the... Just because of the culture of Midwestern basketball. I mean, they would start playing at eight o'clock in the morning, and you'd get there at 7:30 and they'd be playing like 1950's doo-wop music and teams would be warming up and they'd all be energized. And the hospitality was really great. A guy by the name of Bill Hensley ran it with Gerald Hershey and no one treated people who came any better than that. But it was a great atmosphere.

But other than that, I'll tell you... IS8s are something I love, mainly at the main site at IS8 in South Jamaica. I love that tournament. I love Port Chester CYP. I love the Conshohocken Tournament. Those are my favorite local tournaments.


I was supposed to go down to the Power Memorial game the year before, when Power beat them when I was a senior in high school, 65-62, and Alcindor had 35 against them. The game that they talk about is supposed to be the greatest high school game, certainly the most symbolic game in terms of raising the presence of D.C. area high school basketball, January 30th, 1965, at Cole Field House when they beat them, 46-43. I was a freshman in college. I only saw Alcindor play two or three times that season.

Yeah, when he was a junior they went down there and they beat DeMatha, 65-62. Alcindor had 35. The next year, what they did is John Moylan, who was Morgan Wootten's assistant and later the President of DeMatha High School. He recommended this, first of all they were going to double team Lew. Bob Whitmore, who just passed away last week.

To prepare for Alcindor, what John Moylan had them do is he had them shooting over someone with their arm stretched up carrying a tennis racket, simulating Alcindor's ability to block shots. The angle of entry into the basket would have to be so much different than the shadows against Lew Alcindor. That's how they prepared, and they beat them 46-43. Morgan Wootten always says, who passed by himself this year on January 21st said that, "That was probably the most significant game in the history of DC high school basketball".


This was the city of guards. We had maybe arguably the greatest big guy in Jabbar, but that was an anomaly for New York City. Maybe it's the water or whatever, but we don't usually have a lot of great big guys. New York City has more guards than reside on Mount Olympus.

Kevin Joyce was a great player, great player. When anyone asked Jack Curran, "Who's the best player you ever coached," he had a stock answer. He'd always say, "Well, Kevin was the most dominating. Kenny was the most exciting. And Billy Lawrence was the most skilled, who was a great player too."

Two guys, that people nowadays don't know because they didn't have careers, great careers afterwards, were Billy Lawrence, Molloy '61, and Eldridge Webb, Boys High '64, was a great player, went to Tulsa, averaged twenty as a sophomore, but then dropped out of school. And I don't think he's alive any longer, but they were great players.

But I mean, there were so many good guards. You had Dean Meminger. You had John Roche. You had Jimmy O’Brien, Tom Henderson. You had just so many, so many great players just from the '80s. In that one class, you had Kenny Smith, Pearl Washington, Mark Jackson. And then two years later you had, even though he spent his senior year at Oak Hill Academy, you had Rod Strickland, who was a great player, one of the most undervalued players and never made an NBA All-Star Game, which was a joke. For four or five years, he was one of the three or four best guards in the NBA.


First of all, I was not a good player. My father played basketball and I had an older brother, two years older who played at Molloy, my brother Steve who's entering his 46th year as the coach of St. Francis Xavier University in Canada, who had been the national coach up there. He's been very involved with basketball up there, but I like to say the most athletic thing I've ever done in my life is jump to a conclusion, but I was always a junkie. My father would take my brother and myself to games.

The first game, I think was probably in '55, and I fell in love with the game. Especially, this was a golden age. Basketball is a game of surpassing grace and beauty. It's played by the greatest athletes in the world. I don't think there's any question as to that.

Growing up in New York City in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s, how could you not fall in love with the game? Watching my first hardwood hero, Connie Hawkins of Boy High palm, not cup, rebounds out of the air with one hand.

Seeing a decade before the installation of the three point arc, Tony Jackson and Roger Brown launch and drain intergalactic jumpers with monotonous regularity. Witnessing Jackie Jackson, unequivocally the greatest jumper who ever lived, would peel all the laws in Newtonian physics with regard to gravity. How could you not fall in love with the game?

Then going on to Archbishop Molloy High School and being privileged to follow up close and personal, Jack Curran developed into one of the great coaches in history of the game at any level. And watching a tall, skinny kid from St. Jude in upper Manhattan, by the name of Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor grow into Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and a true force of nature.

This was the perfect storm. This was truly a golden age in New York City basketball. How could possibly not fall in love with this game?

In any event, after I followed it obviously when I'm in high school and I go to Fordham and I'm still watching basketball and I become a teacher; a junior high school math and social studies teacher, but always kept a love of the game. And I would coach CYO teams. I would coach teams in summer leagues. I'd go to clinics to try to learn about the game, and I'd worked some summer camps.

The first summer camp I worked was Jack Curran's camp, the coach of Molloy. I would visit with friends up to Five-Star; this is from like 1970-on. I didn't start working at Five-Star until the mid seventies, but then getting involved with Howie Garfinkel, I would work the camp.

When I was in high school, here's the irony; I was in Mike Tyneberg’s camp. Mike Tyneberg’s was Howie Garfinkel's mentor, who was his counselor at Camp Mascoma in Enfield, New Hampshire. They were very, very close. He got Howie Garfinkel involved in basketball. Then they had a tremendous falling out and they were bitter rivals, bitter. I mean, Riverside versus the Gauchos; that was a love-fest compared to the New York Gems versus the New York Nationals.

When I was in high school, I was in Mike Tyneberg’s camp. I was friendly with him. When Howie Garfinkel would see me, for instance, at The Garden or at a high school game, he'd give me the evil eye. If you knew anything about Howie Garfinkel, there was nothing subtle about him. From the mid-70s, we started to become friendly and I started working with him and then I convinced him to go back to the written scouting service (HSBI) and he did. I started working with him with that, and then he sold it to me in '84.

I had started working at Five-Star, and for anyone, Five-Star, unless you were there, Five-Star was a special place at a special time. Unless you were there, you have no idea. First of all the living conditions and the cuisine were anything but five-star. The instruction and the coaching and the talent and the competition were nothing less than five plus.


Right now, I'm on page... I'm looking at it, page 10,990 of all-time. And the page counts both sides. I have a walk-in closet. Jay Wright has two walk-in closets where he has clothes. I have a walk-in closet where I have yellow legal pads and programs and rosters and things like that.


Well, the first summer I was up there would be... This is before Moses [Malone], it would be '70, or '71. It would be Dennis Burke... I mean, kids from the city. Although I didn't see Mel Davis. I saw Mel Davis in high school, but not up there. He came in the summer of '68. Ernie Douse, Ron Hagler and then a little later Tom LaGarde, Butch Lee, so many good players.

It really started out as a New York, New Jersey camp. The first camp, it wasn't called Five-Star until the third year in 1968. The first year was the Orin-Sekwa Basketball School at Camp Orin-Sekwa, in Niverville, New York. And the original staff was Hubie Brown, the coach of Fair Lawn High School; Danny Buckley, the coach of LaSalle Academy; Mike Cingiser, the coach of Lynbrook High School, who later coached Brown to the Ivy Championship in '86; Norm Lefkovitz, the coach at Bronx Science. Marv Kessler from Van Buren, and the other guy was a coach, a guy from the local high school in Niverville, Gordie Van Buren. But really they hired him to bring players and he didn't bring anyone. There were 62 campers, and Hubie Brown brought about 41 of them from Bergen County.

And the first lecture the first year was given by Chuck Daly, who was an assistant at Duke under Vic Bubas. Howie wanted Vic Bubas to do it. He was very close with Vic Bubas, but Vic Bubas had another engagement. So he sent Chuck Daly.

The second year, it was called the Roy Rubin Basketball School. And they had moved to Camp Rosemont in Honesdale for the second year. And then, apparently, I can't really say this, because I didn't know. I remember Roy Rubin when he coached Columbus and then coached LIU. And then, of course, he coached two-thirds of the season, the disastrous season from '70-'73 with the Sixers when they lost 73 games. But, apparently, he was a difficult person to work with, and Will and Howie understood that the camp wasn't going to really grow if he was going to stay involved. So they changed the name the next year. It was the Five-Star Basketball Camp. The first year it was Five-Star was '68.


I mean, there were so many great players. Michael Jordan went there, LeBron James, Moses Malone. Howie [Garfinkel] always said that Moses Malone was the only player too good for the camp. He was coached by Tom McCorry. They didn't lose a game, he blocked every shot, and he was just too good. Might be the second best center I ever saw in high school, not having seen Wilt in high school, he was the second best high school center I've ever seen.


The first and the best was June 29th, 1960, Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City, outdoors.

Roger Brown, Connie Hawkins. Connie Hawkins was an MVP. In the rain. I was an eighth grader, and the only eighth grade graduation present I cared about, was to go to see that game. And I probably badgered my father so much, I guarantee he was the first person to send in, because he, my brother and myself went, and we had the best, literally the best seats in the house. The court was placed on the infield. The last year the Dodgers were in Brooklyn, 1957. They played seven home games, Roosevelt Stadium.

Well, in any event, the court was placed on the infield, and we were dead on the fifth, on the half court line, on the fourth row, right on the court. It was opposite the benches. I guarantee my father was the first person who sent in for tickets. I heard about the game in Milton Gross' column in the Post.

Let me set this up. The prelim was New York versus New Jersey, and Jersey beat New York in the prelim. It never rained that day, but it was overcast. It looked like it was very humid and very slippery ... guys were slipping and sliding all over. They didn't have their footing.

And the game starts, or they come out to warm up, and there's no Connie Hawkins, and I'm crestfallen. Little did I know he was graduating from Boys High that day. And his mother, who was Dorothy, who was going blind, he was the fifth of six kids, insisted that he go to the graduation. And after the graduation, his older brother Fred said, "Connie, I have all your stuff. We can make the game." And he drove him there.

But the one thing he forgot, he forgot to bring sneakers, and Connie wore a size 14 and the best they could get him was a 12. And maybe that's why he had the footing, because years later Jeff Mullins, from Lexington-Lafayette, he went to Duke, played in the NBA, coached UNC Charlotte. He and I would talk about it all the time. And he would say the only player who had his footing was Connie Hawkins. Everyone was slipping and sliding all over the court.

Well, right towards the end of the first quarter, Connie Hawkins comes running out of the dugout to his team, the East team bench, and sits down on the East team bench. And they started the beginning of the second quarter, and he just took over the game. His team was down. He just took over the game. John Thompson was the leading scorer in the game, with 26. Connie Hawkins had 20, but Connnie Hawkins just dominated the game. The East team was John Thompson and George Lefkovitz, Connie Hawkins, Roger Brown. Barry Kramer, a great player. Absolutely, a great player. Archie Roberts, Danny Wellington, Brian Generalovich, Jay "Buckshot" Buckley, Dick Fagliano. The West team was Connor Nash, Jeff Mullins, “Jumpin'” Joe Caldwell, Paul Silas, Bill Chmielewski. It was great talent, absolutely great talent. And Hawkins took over the game.


Well, I was at the city [PSAL] final. I didn't go to the biggest game. This was the first of many bad decisions on my part. 1960, the big matchup was going to be Connie Hawkins against Roger Brown in the semifinals at the Garden.

They had 14,500 people for the game. That night was the quarterfinals of the NIT. And it was St. John's against St. Bonaventure. Tony Jackson against Tom Stiff, who were both All-Americans. My mother told me and my brother at the time, who was a sophomore on the JV at Molloy, and I'm an eighth grader. And my mother said, "You guys, you got to pick one. You can't go to both. Either you stay home and do your homework in the afternoon and go to the night game, or you go to the afternoon game, and you come home after that and do your homework.”

We chose. I don't want to blame my brother, but we chose to go to the college game that night. As we take the E train into 50th Street, the old Garden was at 50th, between Eighth and Ninth Avenue. We're coming up out of the subway. Connie Hawkins is walking down, and I wouldn't have had the nerve. He was my hero, but I couldn't, all's I can think of is John Updike, the novelist, was a huge Ted Williams fan. And his friends would ask him, "Did you ever write to him?" And his stock answer was, "Gods do not answer mail."

I wouldn't presume to have talked to Connie Hawkins, but two kids, one with a Thomas Jefferson jacket on, in front of us asked him, "Hawk, how'd you guys do?"

He said, "We won," but he looked very glum. 'Cause he got out-played by Roger Brown. He tried to guard Roger Brown. Roger Brown didn't guard him. He asked Howie Jones if he could guard Roger Brown. And he fouled him out with six seconds to go in the third quarter. And he had 18. Roger Brown ended up with 39. Boys prevailed 62-59. But that night St John's plays Bonaventure, which is supposed to have been a great game. Bonaventure decimates them 106-71, which was the worst loss St. John's had had until one of Norm Roberts' teams years later.

And now Norm Roberts is a good friend of mine, and I'm not knocking him. He just didn't have the players. But obviously that was the decision on my brother and my part to go to the college game rather than the high school game. On St. Patrick's Day, we went to the City Final, when Boys High played Columbus. Columbus was undefeated, coached by Roy Rubin, assistant coach, and JV coach Will Klein, and they didn't think they could play because they held the ball. And Boys High beat them 21-15.

But I was at the PSAL Final in '60 and '62 when Boys High beat Wingate again, well, this time it was in the final. In '63, when they lost 48-47 to DeWitt Clinton in a big upset, even though they were up seven going into the fourth quarter and then in '64, the game with the riot on St. Patrick's Day, where the PSAL lost the Garden for 26 years. They beat Ben Franklin.


IS8, when I was in high school was around, but it was always a pro tournament, and I never went to it. I mean, Julius Erving would play there and Fly Williams would play there, World B. Free, and guys like that. Al Skinner. But I would never go to it.

And then Pete Edwards, who played in the pro tournament. He decided to do something for the kids in the area. And he started the IS8 league. The first time I went, I think, was in about '95. I went to the semis that fall, and he at least started it the year before because that year Stephon Marbury played in it, and Shammgod played in it. And I think the MVP for the Panthers was Wally Szczerbiak, but I didn't see that. I started going in the fall of '95.

I love IS8. It's just Pete who runs it and sets the tone. The jerseys say, "Bring your game, not your name." When Pete Edwards was on the mic, if you didn't play the game the right way, he embarrassed you. If you didn't act the right way, he embarrassed you. And he had really funny lines. He came out with really funny lines.


Probably the most crowded I've ever seen IS8 is in April of 2002. LeBron was flown in for a photo shoot by Slam Magazine with Sebastian Telfair. Apparently it was April 26, 2002. It was on a Friday night, and it somehow got on the internet that [LeBron] was going to come in.

Jeff Nix was the assistant GM of the Knicks called me up and asked, “Is that true?” And I said, "I believe it is true. He's going to come." But Jeff Knicks didn't end up showing anyhow. But in any event, [LeBron] came in and played. He came straight from the airport, and Romeo Travis, his teammate came in with him, and they played for Brooklyn Bridge, and Khalid Green coached Brooklyn Bridge. They had Sebastian, Ramel Bradley, who ended up playing at Kentucky, Chris Taft, and Antonio Pena who was a freshman. They also had Kyle Neptune, who now is an assistant to Villanova and Jamario Davidson, who came up from Georgia, played at Alabama and played in the NBA briefly.

They played a team called the Sky Riders. Amir Sultan's team. And a guard named Carl Ben had 30 on Sebastian. The first night LeBron had two points. Shot 1-for-12 from the field, 0-for-4 from three, five rebounds, six assists, three steals, and five turnovers. Sebastian had 17 points, 5-for-18, 1-for-4 from three, seven to assists, one steal, and seven turnovers. LeBron came straight from the airport and they won, 89-77.

So what Pete Edwards did was set up for the next night, it wasn't part of the league, but they were going to play an exhibition against the Long Island Panthers. And that was the most crowded I've ever seen IS8. The Panthers frontline was Jason Frazier from Amityville, a time when people were talking about going straight to the NBA. He went to Villanova and he had a checkered career because he kept on having these foot surgeries.

They [Panthers also] had Charlie Villanueva who was a junior, and their third frontcourt player was Curtis Sumpter who went to Villanova also. Played at Bishop Loughlin. And the guards they had were Taquan Dean from Neptune who went to Louisville. Darryl Showtime Hill, who went to St. John's. Allen Ray from Saint Raymond's, who went to Villanova to play for the Celtics. They had Jimmy Doyle and Marcus Alston.

Now the second night when they played against the Panthers, they were up 24 points in the second quarter… they ended up losing 97-89. LeBron had 13 points, shot 6-for-13, 1-for-6 from three, had 12 rebounds, two blocks, three assists, two steals, and seven turnovers. Sebastian had nine points, shot 4-for-17, 0-for-5 from three, with two rebounds, five assists, one steal, and four turnovers. And the guy who was probably the best player on the court that night had 25 points, was Elijah Clark. 6"5 forward, who ended up going to Miami.

Well, I'll tell you how crowded it was. My friend, Ted Broderick. I met him at the Port Authority after seeing a game at Bloomfield College. And we took public transportation out to IS8. And before they played that game, and that wasn't a season game. They just set up as an exhibition. We got into the gym. It was so crowded that Pete Edwards was asking me if I wanted to sit on the table there, but I was with my friends so I couldn't. I was standing in the seventh row in the end zone. It was that crowded. It was magical, it was an electric night. That's all I can say.

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