Basketball Old-Timers of America Inducts 4 Hall of Famers

From left: Event co-host Dennis McDermott, 2024 Basketball Old-Timers of America Hall of Fame inductees Jim Larrañaga, Anucha Browne, and Felipe Lopez, and co-host Ray Nash. (Photo: Jim Mancari)

For 63 years strong, the Basketball Old-Timers of America hosted a dinner ceremony to induct its new class of Hall of Famers. 

It’s always a who’s who of New York City’s most influential former basketball players and coaches — all of whom descend upon Sirico’s Caterers in Dyker Heights with story after story reminiscing about the past. 

On May 3, four new members joined the organization’s Hall of Fame, comprised now of 232 passionate basketball lifers whose contributions to the local game are still being talked about today. Brooklyn-Queens CHSAA President Ray Nash and “Mr. St. Francis” himself Dennis McDermott have kept the tradition alive and well. 

Felipe Lopez 

A native of the Dominican Republic, Felipe Lopez starred for Rice H.S. in Harlem and was named the 1994 Gatorade Player of the Year, in addition to being named a McDonald’s All-American and New York State Mr. Basketball. 

In four years at St. John’s University, Jamaica, Lopez tallied 1,927 points — good enough for fourth place on the school’s all-time list. He still holds the record for career 3-pointers for the Johnnies (148). 

After taking home Haggerty Award honors, he became one of just 17 St. John’s men’s players to be selected in the first round of the NBA Draft. He was picked 24th overall by the San Antonio Spurs. In four years in the league, he averaged 5.8 points and 2.4 rebounds per game. 

Lopez is one of the three current distinguished ambassadors for NBA Cares, the NBA’s philanthropic effort, alongside Bob Lanier and Dikembe Mutumbo. 

“What you all have been able to do is to maintain what the true history of New York City basketball is all about,” Lopez said. 

Jim Larrañaga 

Jim Larrañaga’s journey in basketball began at Archbishop Molloy H.S., Briarwood, where he played for the legendary Jack Curran. From there, it was on to Providence College, where the Bronx native was a four-time letterman and team captain his senior year. 

After being selected in the sixth round of the NBA Draft by the Detroit Pistons, Larrañaga settled into a coaching career that has spanned more than 40 seasons with 745 victories. He currently ranks seventh in wins among active NCAA Division I men’s basketball coaches. 

He is the only coach in NCAA history with 100- plus conference wins at three Division I schools: Bowling Green University, George Mason University, and his current role at the University of Miami. 

In one of the more memorable NCAA Tournament runs in recent history, Larrañaga guided George Mason to the 2006 Final Four, which captivated the college basketball nation. 

“I love New York, I love Molloy, and I love the CHSAA,” Larrañaga said. “Playing for Jack Curran was the best gift I’ve ever been given in basketball.” 

Anucha Browne 

Brooklyn native Anucha Browne is the second women’s player/coach/contributor behind Irma Garcia last year to be inducted into the Basketball Old-Timers of America Hall of Fame. She was a standout student-athlete for St. Saviour H.S., Park Slope, before taking her talents to Northwestern University, where she still holds many records today. 

During her senior season, she became the first woman in NCAA history to tally six straight 30-plus-point performances, and she led the nation in scoring (30.5 points per game). 

She was named an All-American (the first in program history) and captured Big 10 Player of the Year honors for the second consecutive year. 

Currently, she serves as the chief impact officer for the Tides Foundation, a nonprofit philanthropic organization dedicated to advancing social justice. 

“I’m incredibly thankful for the game of basketball for so many reasons,” Browne said. “I also have to acknowledge the impact of Title IX on my life. We see women’s basketball is storming back today, and it really started with Title IX.” 

Mike Vaccaro 

Since November 2022, Mike Vaccaro has been the lead sports columnist for the New York Post. He began his sports writing career in 1989 and has won more than 50 writing awards during that time. 

A 1985 graduate of Chaminade H.S., Mineola, L.I., Vaccaro played two years of basketball there before attending St. Bonaventure University. His primary beat in college was the Bonnies’ basketball team. 

Vaccaro, who was unable to attend the dinner, is also the author of “Emperors and Idiots: The Hundred Year Rivalry between the Yankees and Red Sox, From the Very Beginning to the End of the Curse” and “1941: The Greatest Year in Sports.”