2006-10-27 / Sports

New Lapchick Book Remembers A Pioneer Figure

By Elio Velez

Joe Lapchick was one of the most important basketball figures that New York City has ever produced. The former coach and player, who dies in 1970 was revered in many circles for his playing days with the Original Celtics in the 1920's and his successful tenure as head coach with St. John's University and the New York Knicks from the 1940's to the mid 1960's. But has time forgotten a man who was influential in the playing and coaching careers of numerous players, including former St. John's and Rockaway playground legends Dick and Al McGuire?

Gus Alfieri does not forget what Lapchick has meant. A college player who learned the game from his former coach at St. John's, Alfieri, who is a coach and a teacher at SUNY Stony Brook, has written a new book reminding today's readers of the positive things that Lapchick achieved in his life.

In Lapchick: The Life of a Legendary Player and Coach in the Glory Days of Basketball from Lyons Press, the new book, which was released this month, recalls the life of a legend. The book recalls stories from his days barnstorming around the country during the Great Depression, and coaching the Knicks in the young but struggling 1950's NBA.

He brings forth his personal memories of interacting and being coached by Lapchick as a member of the 1959 NIT title team. Alfieri also recalls his memories of Dick McGuire, the Hall of Fame legend who grew up on Beach 108 Street and competed with college and pro basketball stars on the cement boardwalk courts.

Before the fascination and importance of playing at Rucker Park and West 4th Street, Beach 108 Street was the place to make your mark and body up against some of the reverential athletes of the day.

On Sunday, October 29 at 2 p.m., Alifieri will be signing his new book alongside with his mentor Dick McGuire at the Barnes and Noble Store at 176-60 Union Turnpike. Conveniently located across the street from St. John's University, Alfieri will explain why Lapchick was a prominent and important person in the development of basketball to the spectacle it is today. Lapchick left a lasting impression according to Alfieri that can older and younger readers will enjoy.

In next week's Wave, we will have a full interview with the author about his new book and why two basketball figures in particular, Joe Lapchick and Dick McGuire, played an important part in his life. The book can also be purchased at amazon.com.

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