Note: The Philadelphia Jewish Sports Hall of Fame is found on the internet at http://www.pjshf.com/classall.htm#A -we have only listed those items involved in basketball. This list includes one basketball team, sixteen players, and one announcer. These excerpts have been edited for our site, go to the website for all the sports figures and the entire story.
Steve Bilsky has played important athletic roles at the University of Pennsylvania, both on and off the court. As a basketball player, he was a three-time All-Ivy League guard and captain of the school's best team in its history in 1970-71. In his current position as Penn's Athletic Director, Bilsky has expanded activities, competition and facilities for the school's numerous men's and women's teams and its recreation programs.
A native of Roslyn, NY, Bilsky played on the 1970-71 nationally-ranked Quaker basketball team (28-1), considered one of the all-time greatest teams in Penn history. He led the 1969-70 team in free throw percentage, hitting 81 percent of his shots and is still the Penn record holder for free throws made in a game with 17 against Columbia. He guided Penn to a No. 3 ranking after taking his team to the East Regional Finals in the NCAA Tournament and claiming its second straight Ivy League and Big Five championships along the way. In his final two seasons as Penn's point guard, his teams collected a 53-3 record and he was the runner-up for the Naismith Award in 1971.
Nelson Bobb, better known as "Nitzy", was a Philadelphia basketball star throughout his high school and college career, a career that was interrupted while he served his country in World War II.
In his time, he was Temple University's most prolific scorer. He led the Owls in that department for three seasons: 1942-43, 1947-48 and 1948-49. Following his career at Temple, he was drafted by the Philadelphia Warriors and played four seasons of professional basketball. While at Temple, he led the school in scoring and set several Temple scoring records, including the most points and most field goals in a season.
He also created new marks for the best season average points per game and the most points in a career. At West Philadelphia High, he led his team to the public high championship as a junior and the public high and city championships as a senior co-captain.
Mel Brodsky had an eventful career, even without the three-point arc. He was captain of the 1954 Overbrook High School team that went undefeated. Tall, gangly fellow named Wilt Chamberlain was the center. "I taught Wilt everything he knew," Brodsky said facetiously. "He was terrific, unselfish, just wanted to win. We tried to get him the ball more than he asked for it. We didn't feel any pressure 'til we got to the championships."The year before we lost to West Catholic in the championship game. This time, we played South Catholic, and they used the same defense, five guys surrounding Wilt. I had 17 points in the first quarter. All of a sudden, college teams were interested." Brodsky chose Temple, to be close to his mom, who was ill at the time. A wise choice, that meant making all Big Five and two trips to the Final Four under the legendary Harry Litwack.
Sam Cozen, a star high school and college basketball player and coach, had the distinction of coaching one of the greatest basketball players in the history of the game. He coached the legendary Wilt Chamberlain during his tenure as the coach of the Overbrook High team in the 1950s.
Among the great players he coached at Overbrook were Hal Lear, Dippy Corosi, Freddy Douglas and Jackie Moore. In 1952, the same year Chamberlain arrived at Overbrook, Cozen also accepted the head coaching position at Drexel University. He coached the Dragons until 1968 and today is still Drexel's winningest basketball coach with 213 wins and 94 losses. Eleven of his 15 teams went on to win Middle Atlantic Conference, Southern Division Championships and four of his teams went on to compete in the National Collegiate Athletic Association Tournament.
Dave Dabrow. Perhaps nobody in the greater Philadelphia area has done more to promote the camaraderie of people through basketball than "Coach" Dave Dabrow. He was a teacher and basketball coach in the Philadelphia Public League for over 40 years, a member of the Philadelphia Sphas basketball team, president of the Jewish Basketball League and president and one of the founding fathers the Jewish Basketball League Alumni.
In all, Dabrow spent 67 years as a player, teacher, coach and referee and was still active at the time of his death in September, 1996 at the age of 91.
"Menchy" Goldblatt, a native of South Philadelphia, he was an all-city basketball player at Southern High. As a member of the University of Pennsylvania basketball team in the 1920s, he won All-American honors.
In the early 1940s, he became the first head basketball coach at John Bartram High School. During the next seven years, his basketball and baseball teams won several league and city championships. At least five of his players went on to become college All-Americans.
Eddie Gottlieb. Born and raised in South Philadelphia, he was known as the "Mogul" of basketball. He was one of the pioneers of the sport, helping to develop it to national prominence. A founder of the National Basketball Association. He coached the Philadelphia Warriors to its first NBA championship. In 1962 the Warriors left Philadelphia for San Francisco and Gottlieb moved with them.
Until his death in 1979, he served as a member of the NBA competition and rules committee and for many years single handily formulated the schedule for the league's 22 teams without the aid of a computer. He was the guiding force behind many of the NBA rules used today such as the 24 second shot clock, penalty shot for free throws and the ban on the zone defense. He also signed two of the biggest names in professional basketball, Joe Fulks and Wilt Chamberlain.
Norm Grekin was a member of one of the best basketball teams in LaSalle University history. He was one of the most productive rebounders and scorers ever to play for the school.
After graduating from West Philadelphia High School, where he was All-Public in basketball, Grekin attended LaSalle University. It was during his junior year in 1952 that he teamed up with a sophomore named Tom Gola to lead the Explorers over Seton Hall in the National Invitation Tournament, one of the most prestigious tournaments in the country at the time. He was named with Gola as Co-MVP and to the All-Tournament Team. LaSalle had a 25-3 record that season.
Louis "Red" Klotz, an outstanding basketball player and scorer at South Philadelphia High School, Villanova University and the Baltimore Bullets, is probably best known an the losingest coach in basketball. As coach/player/owner of the Washington Generals, the perennial opponents of the Harlem Globetrotters for many years, Klotz boasts to losing more than 13,000 games during his coaching career.
The son of Jewish Russian immigrant parents, this mighty little red-headed, set-shot artist from South Philly, has lost basketball games against the Trotters in front of four popes and queens, kings and princes, lost on an aircraft carrier, lost in a leper colony and lost in 113 countries and 1,341 towns throughout the United States.
In 1953, Abe Saperstein, owner of the barnstorming Harlem Globetrotters, offered Klotz the opportunity to put a team together and play the Globetrotters on a regular basis. The rest is history.
Howie Landa. He was an All-Public basketball selection while at Central High School. He is recognized as one of the greatest junior college coaches in America. He even served a short stint as head coach for the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
For 26 years ending in 1989, he was the head coach at Mercer County College in Trenton, N.J. His Mercer teams competed four times for the National Junior College Athletic Association Championship, winning twice. His teams also won 10 Regional Championships and 15 District Championships. He was named NJCAA Region XIX Coach of the Year on 10 separate occasions and National Coach of the Year three times.
In 1972-73, Landa was at the helm of the Allentown Jets in the Eastern Pro League where he was named the League's Coach of the Year.
graduation from Central in 1950, Landa went on to
become a star player at Lebanon Valley College where he established 16 individual records. He is a member of the Lebanon Valley College Hall of Fame and Pennsylvania All Sports Hall of Fame as a player and is a member of the Mercer County College Coaches Hall of Fame and the NJCAA Hall of Fame.
Lerner made 97 percent of his foul shots during a splendid four year career at
He played at every level of Philadelphia basketball, from schoolyard to the pros, and singles out his favorite days in the Jewish League. "We played the preliminary game, before the SPHAs," Lerner recalls. "And then Gil Fitch would take off his uniform and put on a tuxedo, and lead the band. For 40 cents, it was the best Saturday night deal in the history of the world. Two basketball games and a dance! "Our games were great.
Lerner's remarkable career started with the Newsboys, a club team. He moved on to Thomas Junior High, and then Furness. At South Philadelphia, he set a Philadelphia single season record, scoring 203 points. "Now," Lerner sighs, "they score that in one game."
Harry Litwack, a native of South Philadelphia was an institution in American college basketball. He was the head basketball coach at Temple University for 21 years, from 1952-1973, where he coached the Owls to 14 consecutive winning seasons.
He is credited with the creation of the "zone defense", which changed the game of basketball and made it necessary to develop new methods of coaching and playing.
He led the Owls to 12 post season appearances including a third place finish in the 1956 and 1958 NCAA tournament and the 1969 National Invitational Tournament Championship. With an overall record of 373-193, he is the winningest coach in Temple University basketball history.
Stan Novak was an athlete, educator, coach and NBA scout. He excelled at every level and overcame every challenge. A native of West Philadelphia, Novak was a two-time all-public league basketball player at West Philadelphia High School, leading the 1940-41 squad to the Public League Championship.
After a stint as an officer in the Navy, he returned to the University of Pennsylvania where he made the All-Ivy League team in his junior and senior years. He coached the Penn freshman team while getting his master's degree in education. From 1949 to 1967, he taught and coached basketball at Springfield High School in Montgomery County, finishing with a record of 245-89.
While teaching at Springfield, he also was player-coach of Sunbury in the Eastern Basketball Association, a position he held for 18 years. He spent another 12 years as a coach in the Continental Basketball Association (CBA) with the Wilkes-Barre Barons, Scranton Miners and franchises in Trenton and Lancaster. He was the winningest coach in CBA history, compiling over 500 wins in 30 seasons.
Harvey Pollack's name is in more record books than any athlete. As the only original employee of the National Basketball Association who is still working for an NBA team, the Philadelphia 76ers, Pollack has been dubbed "Super Stat" in recognition of his excellence and innovation as a nationally-renown sports statistician.
This multi-talented Philadelphia native, who is in his 56th NBA season, not only has excelled in the field of sports statistics, but also served as media relations director for the 76ers and the Philadelphia Warriors, a newspaper sports and entertainment writer, special events coordinator for the Philadelphia Department of Recreation, a magazine editor and head of statistical crews for soccer, lacrosse and football.
A 1943 graduate of Temple University and a member of its Athletic Hall of Fame, Pollack's creativity led him to develop unusual statistical information in the early days of the NBA, many of which have become standard categories in current NBA box scores. He authors two publications annually - the Sixers Media Guide and the NBA Statistical Guide.
Petey Rosenberg was one of the most versatile athletes ever to come out of South Philadelphia. Born on the Fourth of July in 1918, he made his mark in both scholastic and professional basketball and baseball. He captained the 1937 City Championship basketball team, the team that went on to become the Eastern States Tournament Champions.
Dolph Schayes. At 6 feet, 8 inches tall, Schayes played center in college. He then signed with the Syracuse Nationals. They moved him from center to forward where his size, speed and mobility earned him Rookie of the Year Honors in 1949. During his years as a player, the Nats won one title, and were a perennial playoff team.
He is best known in Philadelphia as the first coach of the Philadelphia 76ers, following the team's move from Syracuse in 1964. Two years later, he coached the 76ers to the NBA Title and was named NBA Coach of the Year.
Philadelphia Sphas. At one time they were the most dominant team in professional basketball. The Philadelphia Sphas were organized as an amateur team in 1918 by Eddie Gottlieb, Harry Passon and Hughie Black shortly after their graduation from South Philadelphia High School. Their plan was to organize a semi-professional basketball team consisting entirely of Jewish players. The team featured many of the eastern United States' outstanding college graduates. From 1933-1946 they dominated the American Basketball League, winning seven league championships during those 13 seasons. For four years prior to that, the team won three Eastern League Championships. Following World War II, in 1946, the Basketball Association of America, forerunner of the NBA, made its debut and the ABL ceased to be a major league. The Sphas continued to play in the minor league ABL until 1949.
Dave "The Zink" Zinkoff was perhaps the most famous voice in the history of professional basketball. For years he was the voice of the Philadelphia 76ers and, before that, the Philadelphia Warriors, where he coined such colorful phrases as "Dipper Dunk" and "Gola Goal". He traveled around the world with the Harlem Globetrotters and prior to that worked with Eddie Gottlieb as an announcer for the Philadelphia Sphas. Zink continued to be the public address announcer for the 76ers until his death in 1985.