Howard Lassoff, pro basketball player

Howard Lassoff
Howard Lassoff
Posted: February 10, 2013

Howard Lassoff, 57, of St. Davids, a center and power forward for the Lower Merion High School basketball Aces who went on to play professionally in Israel for 15 years, died Thursday, Feb. 7, of cancer at Lankenau Hospital.

Mr. Lassoff began playing organized basketball when Aces coach Bill Stephens recruited him in 1973, during his junior year. He played the game for the rest of his life.

Mr. Lassoff was born Oct. 15, 1955, in Philadelphia, one of four children of Irving and Hilda Lassoff.

After graduating in 1974, Mr. Lassoff, who stood 6-feet-10, played for the American University Eagles. His coach was Jim Lynam, who later coached the 76ers.

At American, he earned a bachelor of science degree in criminal justice.

"He was a very good defensive player," said his son Alexander. "He had a good jump shot and was good in the paint."

He went on to play in Israel for Maccabi Tel Aviv and Hapoel Haifa in the European League.

During his years with Maccabi Tel Aviv, the team won the Israeli Basketball League Championship six times.

In 1981 and 1986, the squad lost in the championship finals to Tracer Milan, a team that included former NBA stars Bob McAdoo and Mike D'Antoni.

Mr. Lassoff was inducted into the Philadelphia Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 2011.

In 1985, he married Linda Glassman. The couple had two sons. They later divorced.

Mr. Lassoff served 18 months in the Israeli army, where he was a military policeman.

In 1977, Mr. Lassoff was introduced to international basketball when he played for the U.S. team in the 10th Maccabiah Games. That team won the gold medal.

As a resident of Israel, Mr. Lassoff was the starting center for the national team from 1982 to 1991. He played over 100 international games against many European players who would go on to the NBA.

Steven Carter, a longtime friend, said Mr. Lassoff was "a humble man and someone you always wanted to spend time with. He was a gentle giant."

Fran O'Hanlon, basketball coach at Lafayette University and another longtime friend, hailed Mr. Lassoff as a "very good player and even a better person. He touched many people."

In addition to his parents and son, Mr. Lassoff is survived by his companion, Beth Bressler; a son, Joshua; two brothers; a sister; and a grandson.

Services are set for 11 a.m. Sunday, Feb. 10, at Goldsteins' Rosenberg's Raphael-Sacks, 6410 N. Broad St. Burial will be in Mount Lebanon Cemetery.

Contact Vernon Clark at 215-854-5717 or

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