Joseph Lapchick 

Joseph Lapchick

Joseph Lapchick was born in Yonkers on April 12, 1900, the eldest of seven children. His first regular basketball playing was for the Trinity Midgets, an amateur team in his neighborhood that he joined at the age of 12. After graduating from No. 20, he worked as a full time caddy and later as a machinist apprentice. He continued to play basketball in his spare time touring the Hudson Valley with the Bantams when he was 15, and with the Hollywood Inn Club, the best semi-pro squad in Yonkers. The whirlwinds of New York, impressed with his ability, used him in several games, paying him$ 7 a game, more than twice the amount he was earning per day as an apprentice machinist.

At the age of 18 Lapchick had reached his full height of six feet five inches. By the 1920’s he was playing with teams in four leagues simultaneously. Team sought his services in 1922 he joined the fabulous behemoths of the American Basketball League, the New York Celtics. Because the power of the Celtics threatened to demoralize other teams in the league, officials disbanded the team in 1927 and scattered the players among clubs and Lapchick went to the Cleveland Rosen blooms. In 1930 he formed a new Celtic team billed as the “Original Celtics.” He managed the team untill1936 when he accepted the coaching position at St. John’s University. For 12 years his teams never lost more than seven games a season, capturing two consecutive National Invitation Tournament tittles in 1943 and 1944.

In 1947 he left St. John to coach the New York Knickerbockers in the National Basketball Association. During his nine seasons as their coach they reached the playoffs eight times and three times fought to the championship finals.

In 1956 he returned to St. Johns winning the Nationals Invitational Tournament in 1959 and in 1956, when he retired on a note on glory.

His many citations included honorary membership in the St. John’s University class of 1928, the Philadelphia Basketball Writers Association in 1959 Coach of the Year Award, and the New York New paper Guild.

Mr. Lapchick, who is a member of the basketball Hall of Fame, is the first living member to be admitted into the Yonkers Sports Hall of Fame.

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