On November 2nd, the Bronx Basketball Hall of Fame will induct 16 new members as it’s Class of 2023. The induction ceremony dinner will be held at the Villa Barone Manor at 737 Throgs Neck Avenue in the Bronx.
The BBHOF (www.thebronxbasketballhof.com) has honored players, coaches and community leaders, men and women, who impacted the borough through their hard work and dedication to basketball in the Bronx community.
The inaugural Class of 2021 featured former NBA players Nate “Tiny” Archibald, Rod Strickland and Dolph Schayes and Sandy Ortiz, the first woman inducted into the Hall. Ortiz won a lawsuit against the NBA for sex discrimination because she was denied a chance to become a referee.
16 new members make up the Class of 2023, including five women.
“A lifelong dream to honor the history and accomplishments of those in the basketball community of the Bronx but I am most proud of the fact that we honored 5 outstanding women and role models who were voted in to the HOF,” said founder and President Derek Doward. (above with Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson)
For the first time, the Hall decided to present an inaugural “Profile of Excellence Award” to recognize talented Bronx individuals who demonstrate excellence in various aspects of life other than basketball. Director and Secretary Stephen Bogart LeBow made the announcement, “For this inaugural award we recognize none other than Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor who rose from the Bronxdale Houses and the Soundview section to the supreme court of the land.”
As the executive director of the National Basketball Players Association, Michelle Roberts is the first woman to head a major pro sports union. Roberts grew up in the Melrose Houses in the South Bronx, which is a short distance from Yankee Stadium.
Niesha Alice Butler was a record setting player for Riverdale Country School in the Bronx. Butler set a new high school record for most points scored in a career for both men and women.
Butler was named to NYC’s All City Team four years in a row, becoming the only person to do so since Kareem Abdul Jabbar. Butler, who played for the NY Liberty of the WNBA, has worked in media as a sidelne reporter for the Atlanta Hawks and is a business entrepreneur.
Anne Gregory is one of the greatest women’s basketball players in Fordham University history. During her four year career, from 1976-1980, Gregory became the leading scorer and leading rebounder, men or women, in the history of Fordham basketball. Gregory, who was the first woman inducted into the Fordham Athletics Hall of Fame, led Fordham to a 90-38 record during her prestigious career.
Debbie Miller Palmore learned the sport of basketball on the playgrounds of the Bronx. From 1977-1981, the 5’11” forward was a four year starter and two time All American at Boston University where she was a four time team MVP. Miller-Palmore helped pioneer the American Basketball League where she was the GM of the Atlanta Glory and was the first woman to be inducted into the BU Athletic Hall of Fame.
Jane Morris starred as a player at Cardinal Spellman High School in 1967 and later recorded more than 800 wins as a championship winning coach. The court at Cardinal Spellman is named after Morris.
The HOF men are led by three Naismith Hall of Famers, the winningest coach in the USA, College Coach of the Year, Olympians, NBAers, and other community teachers, coaches and leaders.
For 42 years, Naismith Basketball Hall of Famer Howard Garfinkel provided a laboratory for young basketball talent with his renowned “Five Star Basketball Camp.” From 1966-2008, players from Michael Jordan and LeBron James to esteemed coaches like Bobby Knight and Rick Pitino all attended the camp at one time or another.
In 1965, Garfinkel, who played high school basketball at Barnard High School in the Bronx, started publishing a scouting newsletter entitled, “High School Basketball Illustrated.” For 20 years, Garfinkel’s reports would enable college coaches nationwide to get a peek into the great talent pipeline that came out of New York City
Fordham University has a long list of alumni who have made an impact on the New York City basketball scene. That list includes Tom Konchalski, class of 1968, who was considered the top high school scout in the country for more than 40 years. Konchalski penned the newsletter, “High School Basketball Illustrated,” that was subscribed to by more than 200 coaches who received one of the most insightful and in depth scouting report on hundreds of prospects.
Konchalski had a photographic memory and an unequaled eye for talent that foretold of greatness from players he saw in high school like Micheal Jordan, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Steph Curry to name a few.
Last August, Konchalski was posthumously awarded the “John Bunn Lifetime Achievement Award,” the highest honor presented by the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, outside of enshrinement.
Hugh Evans was an NBA referee for 28 seasons where he worked nearly 2000 games and 35 NBA Finals games. Evans was inducted into the New York City Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002 and the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2022.
There haven’t been many high school coaches who have been more successful than Jack Curran, who coached basketball and baseball and won more games than any high school coach in the country.
Curran was a 25-time CHSAA Coach of the Year in basketball and a 22-time winner in baseball. The list of notable players that Curran coached includes former NBA Players Kenny Anderson, Kenny Smith, Brian Winters, Kevin Joyce and Robert Werdann.
Bobby Cremins went from the Bronx to become a college coach of the year at Georgia Tech.
After Cremins graduated from All Hallows High School in the Bronx, he went on to play for legendary coach Frank McGuire at South Carolina. In 1975, he was named the coach at Appalachian State University where he was the youngest Division 1 coach.
His second stop was at Georgia Tech where he took the team to the Final Four in 1990 and was named the Naismith College Coach of the Year. Cremins was also an assistant coach to Lenny Wilkens on the second “Dream Team” that won the gold medal in the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta.
Jamal Mashburn went from Cardinal Hayes High School in the Bronx to Kentucky to becoming the 4th overall pick of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks in the 1993 NBA Draft. Mashburn played 12 years in the NBA and was a third team All-NBA player in the 2002-2003 season as a member of the Charlotte Hornets.
Steve “the Bear” Sheppard was the 1972 New York City Player of the Year while playing for DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx. Sheppard played at the University of Maryland and was a member of the 1976 United States National Team that won the gold medal at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal.
Cal Ramsey was a standout player and an All-American for NYU and played in the NBA for 2 seasons for the St. Louis Hawks and NY Knicks. For 25 years, Ramsey was beloved by the fans as a broadcaster and working with youth and community organizations.
Ramsey participated in the famous Rucker Park league in the 1960s where he played with and against players like Connie Hawkins, Oscar Robertson and Wilt Chamberlain.
Butch Lee made a name for himself on the basketball court as a first team, PSAL All-City basketball player at DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx. Lee, who was the first Puerto Rican and Latin American born athlete to play in the NBA, was a first round pick, 10th overall, of the Atlanta Hawks in the 1978 NBA Draft.
In 1977, Lee led Marquette to the National Championship and was named the Final Four Most Outstanding Player. In 1980, Lee was a member of the 1980 NBA Champion Los Angeles Lakers.
Johnny Mathis won over 600 games as the coach at John F. Kennedy High School in the Bronx. Mathis played one season (1967-1968) in the American Basketball Association for the New Jersey Americans.
John Isaacs was born in Panama but raised in New York City, where he led his team to the New York City high school basketball championship in 1935.
Isaacs signed a pro contract fresh out of high school with the New York Renaissance and earned the nickname, “Boy Wonder.” Because of his age, Issacs first had to get his mother’s permission to sign, but eventually he led the “Rens” to the championship of the first ever World’s Professional Basketball Tournament.
Isaacs became a mentor and recreation counselor at the Hoe Avenue Boys and Girls club in the Bronx and was there for over 50 years. In 2015, NYC renamed a street in Isaacs’ honor. John “Boy Wonder” Isaacs Way is a section of Hoe Avenue, between E. 173rd and E. 174th street.