March Madness is upon us!
Office pools all over America are starting to figure out who will win the NCAA and the NIT. People will drop their money in and hope for a streak of luck by their selected team and, eventually, win all the "gelt." It has become a national fascination.
Many, many years ago,1951 to be exact, I was a naïve high school graduate of 16 years entering the College of the City of New York. C.C.N.Y. to be succinct. In the winter of 1949 - 1950, the C.C.N.Y. Beavers had done the impossible. A rag-tag bunch of kids from the sidewalks of New York City had won both the NIT and the NCAA Basketball Tournaments. It had never happened before and it will never happen again. They were the darlings of the Big Apple.
I, Stanley H. Greenberg, from the East Bronx, was about to enter the College with the best basketball school in the entire United States of America. I must admit that I had a small glimmer of hope that I could try out and possibly make the basketball team. It was uncalistic, but one can dream, can't one?
The great Nat Holman was the basketball coach of C.C.N.Y. He was one of the legendary "Original Celtics," a world famous group of basketeers. Joe Lapchick at 6 foot 4 inches was the center for the Celtics. He later coached St. John's and the New York Knickerbockers. He was tall in those days and just about average for today.
The C.C.N.Y team were the heroes of New York. Ed Roman at 6 foot 6 inches from Taft High School in the Bronx was the center. He had a sweet, soft shot and he competed against all the big, raw boned big men from the mid-west and all over the U.S. Al "Fats" Roth, a burly kid from Brooklyn, was a passing guard. Ed Warner, a savvy guard and great floor player from Clinton High School in the Bronx, was a slasher and driver. Irv Dambrot was another starter. He eventually became a dentist in Queens. Floyd Lane at 6 foot 3 inches played at guard and was excellent. Norm Majer was the sixth man and Herb Cohen was also on the bench.
These kids were the toast of New York City and the entire country and then the hammer fell. They were accused of accepting gamblers' money to shave points and sometimes they lost games while trying to keep the "spread."
They were all banned by the NBA. Fats Roth entered the Army to escape prison time. Ed Warner served six months. All the others received suspended sentences. Nat Holman was exonerated.
Other N.Y.C. colleges were also involved, N.Y.U., LIU and Manhattan College. Kentucky and Bradley were also involved. College Basketball left New York City and Madison Square Garden. NCAA did not want to be tainted by the big city atmosphere.
No one was more disappointed by the scandal than 16-year-old Stanley. I guess eventually I'll get over it.