June 28, 2015 |
Ron Pollack watched his father crunch numbers for years as a member of the 76ers' statistics crew and as a pro basketball employee since 1946. Harvey Pollack was credited with coming up with the system of tracking rebounds, steals, turnovers, blocked shots and other statistics. However, "the one number he never came up with was how many lives he touched," Ron Pollack said Friday afternoon at his father's funeral at Goldstein's Rosenberg's Raphael-Sacks on North Broad Street. Those sentiments were echoed repeatedly at a gathering of about 200 to say goodbye to Pollack.
August 14, 2014 |
BEFORE THE endless mornings and afternoons of summer basketball games for AAU athletes, Phil Booth Sr. was thinking differently. He sat in his old car years ago, his budding son beside him as they drove through different parts of Maryland. The middle-aged Northeast High and Coppin State star dropped off his son at the concrete playgrounds of Owings Mills or Pikesville or even back at his stomping grounds at Coppin State. Booth Sr. was attempting to mold his son in the ways the late John Hardnett had molded him. The father was trying to shape the next "Philly-tough" guard, even though his family now lived 100 miles from the City of Brotherly Love.
August 8, 2014 |
Sonny Hill minces no words when he discusses the basketball career of Guy Rodgers, his "big brother [and] mentor. " "When people ask me, 'Who is the greatest player in the Big Five?' It's not even close," Hill, Philadelphia's iconic basketball organizer and advocate, said Wednesday. "That's how good he was. "Let's put it in Philadelphia perspective: Whoever it is that you think is the second-best Big Five player, he's not close to Guy Rodgers. " Rodgers, a heady and gifted point guard who won three straight Big Five player-of-the-year awards at Temple, will be inducted posthumously Friday night into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., picked by the Hall's veterans committee.
January 31, 2014 |
LA SALLE University's Brother Joe Grabenstein used one word to describe Tom Gola during his eulogy yesterday morning. Genuine. Hundreds of people packed into St. Albert the Great Catholic Church to say goodbye to Gola one final time. Gola's family, plus friends, fans and Philadelphia basketball legends, were at the Huntingdon Valley church to remember Gola as an outstanding man. Gola died Sunday afternoon at age 81. He is still the NCAA's all-time leading rebounder, and is one of only two men to win an NIT, NCAA and NBA championship.
January 28, 2014 |
TOM GOLA was, without any argument, the most accomplished college basketball player in city history. La Salle won the NIT when he was a freshman in 1952, the NCAA when he was a junior in 1954 and finished runner-up to Bill Russell's great San Francisco team when he was a senior. His death yesterday at 81 serves as a reminder of what he was on the court. It also conjures a nostalgic time from the 1950s when a sporting hero from 3rd and Lindley and Incarnation Grade School never lost sight of his roots and treated every kid who idolized him like he was one of his own. Gola was not years ahead of his time as a player.
January 10, 2014 |
ON THIS particular day, it hadn't happened yet, but then, Sonny Hill was out of his Philadelphia stomping grounds, sitting for a brunch conversation at the Hotel Du Pont in Wilmington. Still, the day was young, and soon Hill would be out and about doing things in the community as he's done for nearly his entire life. He was sure it would happen, because it has happened just about every day for more than a half-century. "I know that I'm going to be going somewhere and somebody is going to walk up to me and say, 'Mr. Sonny, I played in your league.' 'Mr. Sonny, I went to your basketball camp.' 'Mr. Sonny, you spoke at my school and I want you to know that you have made a difference in my life,' " said Hill, 77, who was born and raised in Philadelphia, but is known throughout the nation for his work as a community activist and pioneering sports commentator.
February 1, 2012 |
CECIL HIGHTOWER was practically a runt on the basketball courts. He was a mere 5 foot 10 in a sport dominated by giants. But Cecil had one advantage. He could jump phenomenally high, a talent that let him hold his own on the local basketball courts with the likes of Wilt Chamberlain and other Philly stars. In fact, while at West Philadelphia High School, Cecil set a school record in the high jump in 1960, clearing the bar at 6 feet 4. Charles Cecil Hightower Sr., a warehouseman for local companies, a coach who liked to impart his knowledge of sports to the young and a talented artist, died Dec. 24 at the age of 69. He was born in Philadelphia to Lovie Lee Beatrice Thomas and Charlies Claude Hightower.
May 26, 2011
PHILADELPHIA IS NOT an NBA town. If I've heard it once, I've heard it a million times. The Sixers' annual struggle with attendance is about the product more than the people, I am repeatedly told, and that includes the now trite use of pyrotechnics and general loudness that attack the senses far more than anything that happens once the ball is jumped. Philadelphia is a basketball town, I am told. Big 5, Palestra, Catholic League, Sonny Hill on Sunday mornings talking about back in the day. Philadelphia is about playing the game right, about team defense and selflessness and giving up the ball.
May 20, 2010 |
In the early years, John Hardnett would train aspiring pro basketball players in the cramped, musty gym at Gustine Lake. "Guys would come in from schools that had big-time practice facilities, look at that place and say, ' This is where you brought us?' " Joel Bell fondly remembered yesterday, a day after the sudden death of Hardnett, 56. "After a day or 2, they loved it. They'd leave saying they'd be back next summer, too. " Bell, a player agent, was a Public Leaguer who grew up playing in Sonny Hill's various youth leagues.
April 8, 2008 |
Sonny Hill has been named a finalist for the Mannie Jackson Basketball Human Spirit Award presented by the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. The 67-year-old Hill, an executive adviser for the 76ers, established community basketball programs that have helped thousands of youths and young men in Philadelphia and the surrounding area. The two finalists joining Hill are former NBA players Alonzo Mourning and David Robinson. The award, named for a Hall of Fame board member, honors individuals "who have incorporated basketball into their efforts to contribute to the greater good of society.