New York City basketball always will be the Mecca of this sport. It was the place where legends were made and here are the icons who made a difference in this game. That’s why they are the GOAT as a contributor in NYC hoops.
- Tom Konchalski – Konchalski spent 43 years evaluating college basketball expectations which help a lot of players earn scholarships. He never had a car, or cell phone; did it the old fashion way. Tom was very friendly and had a smile and gave you that famous firm handshake. Konchalski wrote and directed the High School Basketball Insider (HSBI) Report and took it over from Five Star Basketball Camp founder Howard Garfinkel in 1984. He learned the game from Garfinkel and legendary Molloy coach Jack Curran. On February 8, 2021 Mr Konchalski died at the age of 74.
- Holcombe Rucker – Rucker work for the New York City Parks and Recreation for 16 years in Harlem. He started a league under his name and it blossom to the famous Rucker Pro League in 1950. It was a place for basketball and education that will help kids get a scholarship to college. In 1974 the city renamed P.S. 156 Playground to the Holcombe Rucker Playground located at 155th Street and Frederick Douglas Blvd for dedicating his time to the community.
- Bob McCollugh – Had a great college basketball career at Benedict College. He started the Rucker Pro League in 1965 and in 1967 he begin the Program call Each One Teach One. The Rucker League was the top Summer basketball in the world for numerous years. It was packed with studded NBA players such as Wilt Chamberlain, Julius Erving, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Earl The Goat Manigault, Joe The Destroyer Hammond, and numerous street ball legends. Each One Teach One is to help the youth engage in academics and community involvement which help the youth earn scholarships to college.
- Cecil Watkins – Mr Watkins started numerous basketball and community programs for many organizations including NYC Parks & Recreation. In the 60’s and 70’s he started the Ray Felix tournament in East Elmhurst, Queens, New York which produced the top talented players in the New York City area. In addition, he was the founder of Elmcor Youth and Adult Activities and assembled the first AAU Basketball Team in New York to travel across the country. Mr Watkins helped players get scholarships to college and assisted coaches getting coaching jobs in the college ranks.He worked for the NBA in several capacities for several seasons and he was the President/CEO of National Pro-Am City Leagues Association. The Pro-Am was mainly a springboard for referees work their way up to the NBA. Mr. Watkins was a board member of USA Basketball and Governor for the NY Metropolitan AAU. On October 10, 2009 Cecil Watkins died of Pancreatic cancer. The Elmcor gym in Corona, New York in which he became the main factor was build and open in 1995 and it was renamed to the Cecil K. Watkins Gymnasium in 2010.
- Greg Marius – The founder of the Entertainers basketball tournament in Harlem. In 1981 after his hip hop crew as “The Disco Four”, competed in a game against a group of local pioneering hip hop legends known as the “Crash Crew”. In 1982 he started the EBC at Fred Sammuels playgrounds on 140th St and Lenox Ave in Harlem. Initially organized as a tournament between rival hip-hop crews, Marius’s basketball showcase ingeniously connected the worlds of basketball and hip-hop. Then in 1984 the Rucker was declining and expanded on Rucker Park’s existing history as a place where neighborhood talent could play sports celebrities, Marius invited basketball stars to the weeks-long tournament. It had the late Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Vince Carter, Allen Iverson, LeBron James, and numerous NBA players participating at Rucker Park. Even Bill Clinton attended a game while he was in office. It featured a documentary in 2000 call On Hallow Ground. The EBC was the official streetball tournament of the NBA. On April 25, 2017 Greg Marius died of cancer. The court has been name in his honor at Rucker park.
I know we have many mentors and leaders in this game who did a lot for the game. We say thank you for your dedication to the game.