There’s an interesting piece in the on-line version of the NY Times where noted NYC sportswriters and personalities weigh in on selecting the all-time NYC dream hoops team to come out of the city. (Link: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2012/12/24/sports/basketball/new-yorks-best-basketball-players-as-picked-by-insiders.html) While nearly all the Big Apple pundits pick Power Memorial HS grad Kareem Abdul-Jabbar at center, there are some interesting debates over Bob Cousy vs. Kenny Anderson at point guard or Bernard King vs. Billy Cunningham… or Connie Hawkins vs. Chris Mullin, and so on.
Anyway, the debates got me wondering… What would Hyde’s All-time New York City team be? It’s scary to even contemplate, especially because I know all the candidates personally and I hate the thought of dissing any of them.
It’s also very hard to narrow the choices down. I mean, before I even began to categorize by position, I had over a dozen names dating way back to my own early-70s teammate James Grasty ’73. (He ran the show… I watched.)
If nothing else, the topic should make for lively alumni debate. Hence, I figured I’d take a shot at the Bath squad. Maybe Messrs. Bragg and Felt will take a shot at a Woodstock/NYC squad.
So, here’s my team, one that draws from four different decades. My list doesn’t distinguish between whether the player peaked at Hyde or afterwards.
Tommy Baez ’78 (G) – With a deadly accurate shot and an unparalleled competitive spirit that led to countless 3-point plays (the old-fashioned kind), Tommy led Hyde in landmark wins over powerhouses like Cheverus and So. Portland… Got a try-out with the Puerto Rican Olympic team his senior year at Hyde.
Rodney Johnson ’82 (G/F) – Starring on 2 New England prep championship teams (1980 and ’82), “Rocket Rod” sky-walked over the rim and had a sweet shot… Went on to a stellar college career at U. New Hampshire. In fact, one night in Boston I saw him hit a buzzer-beater against a Reggie Lewis-led Northeastern team to put the game into overtime and then turn around to do it again in OT to win it.
Lydell Capers ’97 (G/F) – Led the Phoenix to the MPA state championship finals where he put on a performance for the ages before we came up one heart-breaking point short in perhaps the most exciting Hyde game I’ve ever seen. Went on to Springfield College where he was a 2-time captain. Today, Lydell is Dean of Students at Hyde-Bronx.
Junior Bernal ’04 (F) – Could play every position on the floor, but was one of the best slashing drivers Hyde has ever seen. Went on to U. Maine where he was a 2-time captain and the only player in history to net 1000 points, 500 rebounds, 300 assists, and 150 steals in a single career. He also excelled in the classroom as a member of the America East All-Academic Team.
David Ivory ’81 (C/F) – OK, we need a big man. This is a very tough call. In addition to David, my “short list” would include David Sardi ’75 and Daryl Coppin ’77. I go with David because he was the man in the paint for both Maine public and New England prep championships… in the same weekend! He also had a very soft touch for a big man.
The problem with any list like this is that it’s impossible to avoid committing the sin of omission. You can only put five players on the court and there are so many New Yorkers who have left their marks at Hyde. Shawn Ritzie ’89 had the quickest first step of any Hyde player I’ve seen… If I needed to shut down a killer guard, my first choice would be James Richardson ’82… If I needed to maintain possession of the ball in a tense moment, I would place it in the hands of Robert Holmes ’81… You have to admire just how much Richie Ortega ’04 got out of what he brought to the table… If you needed someone to demonstrate the proper execution of the jump shot, you might well look to Tony Dawsey ’79… The all-around play of Perry Rogers ’95 would be a major contribution to any team… and on and on.
Suffice it to say that these and many others have done both Hyde and New York proud on the basketball court.