Sports

Hoops Old-Timers Still Talk Plenty of Game

The 2017 Basketball Old-Timers of America Hall of Fame class includes, from left, co-organizer Dennis McDermott, Mike Dunleavy, George Johnson (accepting on behalf of Glen Williams), Don Kent, Ed Corbett, Ray Martin and co-organizer Ray Nash. (Photo: Jim Mancari)

The constant back and forth on the court.

The ability to stop on a dime.

The intensity it takes to thrive all four quarters.

The complete focus at the foul line when the game’s on the line.

There’s no doubt that basketball is a young man’s game. But just don’t tell that to the Basketball Old-Timers of America!

The Old-Timers hosted its 58th annual Hall of Fame induction ceremony and dinner May 5 at Sirico’s Caterers in Dyker Heights. Five new members – of which four were products of the local CHSAA – were enshrined for their basketball accomplishments as they joined the list of over 200 deserving inductees.

“Tonight we honor five great men who have contributed to the game of basketball their whole lives,” said Ray Nash, former standout at St. Francis College, Brooklyn Heights, and current CHSAA president who along with fellow Terriers’ standout Dennis McDermott have kept the tradition of hosting the dinner alive.

From the first three inductees in 1959 – William “Pop” Gates, Pop Harris and Andrew “Fuzzy” Levane – to the new class of five, the Old-Timers Hall of Fame continues to honor those who have established basketball as “the city game.”

This year, two Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famers joined the festivities: longtime renowned NBA referee Dick Bavetta and legendary St. John’s University, Jamaica, head men’s basketball coach Lou Carnesecca.

For the past 35 years – 25 in Division I – Ed Corbett has been one of the most recognizable officials in college basketball. He has worked 10 conferences including the ACC, SEC, Big 10 and Big East.

“I had the pleasure to work with some great coaches,” said Corbett of his time as a referee in the CHSAA. “It was great basketball and the foundation for my career.”

Corbett has worked 20 NCAA Tournaments, including six Final Fours, and has officiated the NIT championship game five times. He is a member of the CHSAA, Yonkers and Westchester County Halls of Fame.

Ray Martin’s basketball career began in the Catholic Youth Organization at St. Rita’s parish, Long Island City. From there, he was a standout at Mater Christi H.S., Astoria, where he was named an All-American and recognized as the best high school hoops player in the city as a senior.

He then went on to play for Digger Phelps at the University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Ind. He was a member of the team that stopped UCLA’s historic 88-game winning streak.

“Notre Dame is a very special place for me, coming from a Catholic family and going to a Catholic school,” said Martin.

He soon began coaching college basketball, which led him to 13 schools including an eight-year run as an assistant to Jim Valvano at NC State, Raleigh, N.C. The 1983 Wolfpack won the NCAA national championship. He is currently an assistant coach at North Carolina A&T, Greensboro.

Glen Williams was a native of the Virgin Islands who excelled for Carnesecca’s St. John’s teams in the mid ’70s. He never shot below 51 percent from the field and finished with 1,727 career pts., including an average of 21 pts. per game his senior season.

He was a member of the team the battled the top-ranked 1975-1976 Indiana University, Bloomington, team down to the very wire. The Hoosiers prevailed and remain the last men’s college basketball team to finish a season undefeated.

“He had the basketball bug,” said Williams’ St. John’s teammate George Johnson, accepting on behalf of Williams who was battling cancer. “He was a dreamer. He dreamed that the sport he loved could open doors for him.”

Williams passed away in the days following the dinner.

Don Kent has been one of the faces of CHSAA basketball for the better part of four decades. From his days at Holy Name Elementary School, Park Slope, to St. Francis Prep, Williamsburg, Kent has exemplified what it means to be a Catholic gentleman.

After graduating from St. Mary of the Plains College, Dodge City, Kan., and earning master’s degrees from St. John’s University and New York University, Manhattan, he began coaching high school hoops at Bishop Reilly H.S., Fresh Meadows.

He then spent time at Christ the King H.S., Middle Village, before becoming entrenched at Msgr. McClancy H.S., East Elmhurst, for 31 and a half seasons.

Kent is a member of the McClancy, St. Francis Prep, CHSAA and New York State Basketball Halls of Fame.

“I tried to instill values in kids,” he said. “I tried to get them to do the right thing. There’s more to life than winning or losing.”

Mike Dunleavy, who played his CYO ball at Little Flower, East Flatbush, starred at Nazareth H.S., before playing his college basketball for Frank McGuire at the University of South Carolina, Columbia.

He was selected in the sixth round of the 1976 NBA draft by the Philadelphia 76ers. He played one season in Philadelphia, where the team made the NBA Finals. He then made the NBA Finals the following year playing for the Houston Rockets.

After stints with the San Antonio Spurs and Milwaukee Bucks, Dunleavy retired from playing and broke into the coaching ranks. In 1990, he replaced Pat Riley to become head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers. He later coached the Bucks and the Portland Trail Blazers, where he won NBA Coach of the Year in 1999.

He is currently the head men’s basketball coach at Tulane University, New Orleans. Through all his success as a player and coach, he’s never forgotten where it all began.

“I was very fortunate,” he said. “I tell stories about once per week about growing up playing basketball in Brooklyn.”

Basketball may still be a young man’s game, but reliving the hoops memories of the past each spring allows these Old-Timers to feel like they’re right back in the game.


Contact Jim Mancari via email at jmmanc@gmail.com.

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