Sports

Old-Timers Relive Past Hoop Days

The Basketball Old-Timers of America 2022 Hall of Fame Class includes, seated from left: Bob Leckie, Ralph Tedesco, Pat Quigley, Rich Kosik, and standing from left, Armond Hill and Walt Szczerbiak. Also pictured standing from right, event co-organizers Dennis McDermott and Ray Nash. (Photo: Courtesy Dennis McDermott)

They waited three full years, but finally members of the local basketball community were able to gather together once again. Of course, the stories they told over and over again in 2019 were back and more exaggerated then ever!

For the 61st year, the Basketball Old-Timers of America gathered for its annual dinner and Hall of Fame induction ceremony at Sirico’s Caterers in Dyker Heights on May 6. Co-organizers Ray Nash and Dennis McDermott – both former hoops standouts at St. Francis College, Brooklyn Heights – brought the spring tradition back after missing two events due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Former basketball players, coaches, officials, and fans always say the event is easily among their favorite nights of the year. Nearly 260 attendees enjoyed the evening – marking one of the largest groups ever assembled to celebrate the city game.

“We were really looking forward to this,” McDermott said. “It was great to see people and reminisce. Reconnecting with people from over the years, you don’t miss a beat. The friendship is still there.”

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 the contributions made to the game of basketball in New York City.

The Class of 2022 featured Armond Hill, Rich Kosik, Walt Szczerbiak, and five decades of coaches from Bishop Loughlin H.S., Fort Greene: Ralph Tedesco, Pat Quigley, and Bob Leckie.

“This was supposed to be the class from 2020, but we had to hold it over,” Nash said. “Everybody was just thrilled to be back and was raring to go because we had been away for so long.”

This group is truly a basketball fraternity, and the annual dinner serves as the initiation ceremony for the newest Hall of Famers.

Armond Hill

Brooklyn native Armond Hill graduated from Bishop Ford H.S., Park Slope, in 1971. He went on to star at Princeton University, N.J., from 1972-1976 and was named Ivy League Men’s Basketball Player of the Year as a senior.

He was drafted by the Atlanta Hawks with the ninth pick of the 1976 NBA Draft and spent eight seasons as a professional for the Hawks, Seattle SuperSonics, San Diego Clippers, and Milwaukee Bucks. Over 468 games, Hill averages 6.9 points and 4.3 assists per game.

After spending eight years as the head coach at Columbia University, Manhattan, he coached as an assistant for 15 seasons in the NBA with Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Clippers. Currently, Hill is the assistant athletic director of basketball administration at Indiana University, Bloomington. He’s also a 2009 inductee of the NYC Basketball Hall of Fame.

Rich Kosik

Rich Kosik was born in the Bronx, yet he began carving out a passion for athletics as a Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) sports star at Immaculate Conception, Astoria. From there, it was on to Rice H.S., Manhattan, and St. Mary of the Plains College, Dodge City, Kan., where he focused on basketball.

In 1968, he returned to the Big Apple and started a teaching career with the NYC Board of Education. He always was an advocate for student-athletes, leading to his work with Athletes for Better Education.

He led the organization’s NY/NJ program for several years, working directly with the Public Schools Athletic League. As counseling and academic director, he helped conduct motivational and informational presentations for teams, coaches, and parents. He continues to work
with schools, camps, and community programs.

Walt Szczerbiak

Wolodymir “Walter” Szczerbiak was born in a refugee camp in Germany in August of 1949 to Ukrainian parents who were displaced during World War II. The family settled in Pittsburgh, and Szczerbiak first picked up basketball at Ukrainian Catholic Seminary in Stamford, Conn.

It was then on to George Washington University, Washington, D.C., where he was named the top collegiate basketball player in the Metropolitan Washington area his senior year. He was drafted in the third round of the 1971 NBA Draft by the Phoenix Suns yet wound up playing in the American Basketball Association for the Pittsburgh Condors.

Szczerbiak’s hoops career led him to Europe, where he played professionally in Spain and Italy – eventually being dubbed the “Dr. J of Europe.” His son Wally played 10 seasons for four teams in the NBA before retiring in 2008.

Ralph Tedesco

Now 90 years old, Ralph Tedesco was raised in Flatbush and attended St. Theresa of the Little Flower Elementary School. He went on to attend St. Francis Prep when it was in its Williamsburg, Brooklyn location.

After playing basketball for four years at Providence College, R.I., he accepted a coaching job at Bishop Loughlin in 1957. In just his fourth season, he guided the Lions to the 1961 CHSAA city championship.

In 1979, he moved on to the college ranks, coaching at Manhattanville College, Harrison, N.Y. He spent 15 years at the helm of that program and set the school record for most wins at the time of his retirement.

Pat Quigley

Pat Quigley attended St. John’s Prep, Bedford-Stuyvesant, and then continued his education at St. John’s University, Downtown Brooklyn. He enjoyed a 40-year career as a history teacher at Bishop Loughlin from 1967-2006.

His coaching career began in CYO at St. Barbara’s parish, Bushwick. He then coached freshman basketball and junior varsity hoops at Bishop Loughlin before settling in as the varsity coach in 1972.

In total, his Lions teams won four diocesan championships, the 1975 CHSAA city championship, and the 1983 New York State championship. After retiring from teaching, he has since lived in the Poconos, Pa.

Bob Leckie

Bob Leckie was born and raised in Greenpoint and attended St. Cecilia’s Grammar School. He then went to St. Francis Prep, where as a senior he was a Brooklyn Division ‘A’ basketball All-Star and All-City Honorable Mention.

Leckie spent four years playing basketball at St. Peter’s College, Jersey City, N.J., which included three appearances in the National Invitational Tournament. From there, it was on to the coaching ranks.

His 13-year coaching career at Bishop Loughlin was highlighted by the 1992 CHSAA city championship and state federation titles. He then coached at St. Peter’s for six seasons. He’s a member of the St. Peter’s, Bishop Loughlin, CHSAA and N.J. Hudson County Halls of Fame.


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