LAPCHICK encapsulates Joe Lapchick’s fifty-year career that mirrors the framework of basketball in America. Coach Lapchick, twice enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame, experienced a life in basketball that places him with a handful of the pioneers of the game. The book uses Joe Lapchick as a lens through which the rise and development of basketball is clearly understood. Lapchick began a professional career that led him in the 1920s to the famous Original Celtics where he became the game’s most successful big man. After a successful professional career, he turned to coaching where he spent more than twenty years coaching at St. John’s University [1936-1947, 1956-1965] only separated by nine years with the New York Knickerbockers. His record was among the nation’s best, both as a collegiate and professional coach, winning four NITs. During his second stint at St. John’s, Gus had the pleasure of playing for Coach Lapchick. The experience was so riveting that he later was motivated to write his coach’s biography. Alfieri conducted more than 250 interviews, including ones with Lou Carnesecca, Wilt Chamberlain, Bobby Knight, and John Wooden.
THE HEART OF A CHAMPION
The Heart of A Champion trumpets the Golden Age of Long Island Basketball, from the late-1950s through the mid-1980s, producing 25-30 division I players. Coach Gus Alfieri took his 1973-1974 St. Anthony’s High School Basketball Team and used it as a microcosm of the era. In this memoir, he describes how he got into basketball, what inspired him to become a high school coach, and how he turned a troubled team into the #1 high school in NY State, #1 Catholic School in the country and the fifth best overall team in the nation. The climax of the book centers around St. Anthony’s defeating Lutheran High School in the first unofficial state tournament, held at Hofstra University before 6,500 basketball enthusiasts. This climatic game was labeled by Larry Sherman of the Long Island Press as, “The Super Bowl of High School Basketball.” Besides giving St. Anthony’s national attention, the victory over Lutheran was the 39th straight win on their way to a 49-game winning streak.