web analytics
April 23, 2014 / 23 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Spa 1.2 Combining Modern Living in Traditional Jerusalem

A unique and prestigious residential project in now being built in Mekor Haim Street in Jerusalem.



Reflections Of A Former Bronx Hoopster

Front-Page-010413

Share Button

In the introduction to their recently published Jewish Jocks: An Unorthodox Hall of Fame, Franklin Foer and Marc Tracy hyperbolically describe American basketball between the world wars as a “majority-owned subsidiary of New York Jewish culture.”

Eight of the 50 essays in the anthology are devoted to basketball players, coaches or owners, and six of them learned the game on the playgrounds of New York City: Dolph Schayes, Red Auerbach, Red Holzman, Barney Sedran, Nancy Lieberman and Jack Molinas. The other two are Tamir Goodman, a wildly hyped yeshiva player in the late 1990s from suburban Baltimore, and Mark Cuban, the hyperventilating owner of the Dallas Mavericks who grew up in suburban Pittsburgh.

Tracy’s essay is devoted to Schayes, a graduate of DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx and New York University, which played its games at the school’s (defunct) Bronx campus and Madison Square Garden. The 84-year-old hall of fame player modestly tells Tracy: “I grew up in New York City, which was populated by many Jews. That was the game of choice. I was just part of the group that was playing.”

Indeed, the passion that New York City Jewish male teenagers had for basketball, during the first eight decades of the 20th century, is further demonstrated by the overlooked fact that two baseball and one football hall of famers profiled in Jewish Jocks – Hank Greenberg (James Monroe HS, 1929 city champions), Sandy Koufax (Lafayette HS) and Al Davis (Erasmus Hall HS) – also played basketball in New York City’s Public Schools Athletic League.

Founded in 1903, the PSAL has been the training ground of more pro hoops players than any other scholastic league in America. While eleven Jewish-Americans profiled in the Foer-Tracy collection played various sports in the PSAL, including hall of fame quarterback Sid Luckman and broadcaster Howard Cosell, none of the book’s 50 contributors evinces the slightest awareness of this crucial history.

Though I met Schayes in 1977 when I tried out – unsuccessfully – for the Maccabi team and he was the coach, and though I was familiar with his fabulous NBA career with the old Syracuse Nationals, I didn’t know at the time that he was a fellow Bronxite. I also didn’t know, even though my mother attended NYU between 1941 and 1944, that the school’s 1945 team lost the NCAA championship game to Oklahoma A&M. A perusal of the box score reveals that Schayes and NYU’s other Jewish star, Sid Tanenbaum (who came out of Brooklyn hoops powerhouse Thomas Jefferson HS), combined for a measly 10 points.

That same summer of 1977, when I was a graduate student at Columbia’s Graduate School of the Arts (concentrating on nonfiction writing), I ended my basketball career, having played professionally in Sweden, Switzerland and Israel (Betar Jerusalem).

Though I didn’t make it to Madison Square Garden as a player, I managed this feat as a coach. During my first full year of teaching in the New York City public high schools in 1990-91, I volunteered to help coach South Shore HS in Brooklyn, and the team reached the PSAL championship game at the Garden. We lost to Brooklyn’s Lincoln High School, a perennial powerhouse.

Looking at the old program, I see that the same evening we lost to Lincoln, Nancy Lieberman-Cline was inducted into the PSAL Hall of Fame. In Jewish Jocks, ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz has a wonderful profile of Lieberman, a female basketball pioneer. However, he never mentions that she starred at Far Rockaway HS in Queens before attending Old Dominion in Virginia. Arnovitz does note that she led her university to two NCAA titles.

* * * * *

I didn’t become a basketball historian until April 1996, when the NCAA title game was played at the Meadowlands, a few miles from midtown Manhattan, and I wrote an op-ed for The New York Daily News about the forgotten Texas Western 1966 NCAA championship team.

Subsequently, sportswriter Frank Fitzpatrick published And the Walls Came Tumbling Down: Kentucky, Texas Western and the Game That Changed American Sports and Hollywood produced a film, “Glory Road,” about the team.

The historic victory by Texas Western, which featured seven black players against an all-white Kentucky team starring Pat Riley, shattered apartheid in college sports in the South. Three of Texas Western’s players – Willie Worsley (DeWitt Clinton) and Nevil Shed and Willie Cager (Morris HS) had played their high school ball in the Bronx.

Share Button

About the Author: Mark Schulte has written about World War II and the liberation of the concentration camp for two decades for The Jewish Press, New York Post, Weekly Standard, New York Daily News and other publications.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

No Responses to “Reflections Of A Former Bronx Hoopster”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Abbas and Hanieyh on poster, next to a picture of Arafat.
Kerry’s Talks Achieve Peace Between Hamas and Fatah
Latest Indepth Stories
Al-Aksa Mosque was claimed to be the site from which Mohammed ascended to Heaven, but it was built nearly 50 years after Mohammed died.

Jerusalem only seems important in the Islamic world when non-Muslims control or capture the city.

Israeli police enter the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem's Old City to disperse stone-throwing Palestinian protesters.

Jordan’s king is adding fuel to the fire on the Temple Mount, blaming Israel for violence by Muslim Arab rioters.

Imam Suhail Webb who boasted his Muslim community persuaded Brandeis President Fred Lawrence to withdraw an invitation to Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

At Brandeis, much of what counts as Western civilization got cold feet and won’t stand with Hirsi Ali.

Text of anti-Semitic flyer distributed to Jews in Donetsk, Ukraine on Passover 2014.

But the lesson from this meditation is that hidden behind the anti-semitic act is the greatest light.

As support of their messianic dream, Halevi and Antepli approve dishonoring Hirsi Ali as a ‘renegade.’

If itis a mitzva to eat matza all Pesach, then why is there no berakha attached to it?

When we are united with unconditional love, no stone will be raised against us by our enemies.

The reporter simply reports the news, but it is greater to be inspired to better the situation.

The Big Bang theory marked the scientific community’s first sense of the universe having a beginning.

Freeing convicted murderers returns the status of Jewish existence to something less than sanctified.

“The bigger they are the harder they fall” describes what God had in mind for Olmert.

We, soldiers of the IDF, who stand guard over the people and the land, fulfill the hopes of the millions of Jewish people across the generations who sought freedom.

How much is the human mind able to grasp of the Divine?

Jews have brought the baggage of the galut (exile) mentality to the modern state of Israel.

The Haggadah is an instruction manual on how to survive as strangers in strange lands.

More Articles from Mark Schulte
Ed Koch

Most obituaries on Ed Koch paid scant attention to his military service in World War II.

Front-Page-010413

In the introduction to their recently published Jewish Jocks: An Unorthodox Hall of Fame, Franklin Foer and Marc Tracy hyperbolically describe American basketball between the world wars as a “majority-owned subsidiary of New York Jewish culture.”

“His father, a sanitation worker who had never finished high school, moved his family to Jewish neighborhoods [in Brooklyn], so that his children might be instilled with the value that Jews place on learning.” – From Joseph Berger’s New York Times obituary of Dr. Frank Macchiarola Frank J. Macchiarola, the former New York City schools […]

A recent dispute between conservative commentator Charles Krauthammer and White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer centered on the Obama administration’s return to the British government in January 2009 of a bust of Winston Churchill, which had been kept in the Oval Office by President George W. Bush following the September 11, 2001 attacks.

While the Supreme Court recently invalidated the Stolen Valor Act, which imposed criminal penalties on Americans who falsely claim medals for combat bravery, prominent Democrats – including Jesse Jackson, Charles Rangel, Robert Morgenthau and Eric Holder – have repeatedly distorted World War II and Holocaust history for purposes of ethnic politics.

    Latest Poll

    Now that Kerry's "Peace Talks" are apparently over, are you...?







    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/front-page/reflections-of-a-former-bronx-hoopster/2013/01/03/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: