- Last Updated: 5:26 AM, July 1, 2012
- Posted: 11:29 PM, June 30, 2012
HOOP DU JOUR
The last time Pat Cummings and I were together, the mood was tense, the bitterness intense from years of rubbing each other raw with words that hurt and branding him with a derogatory nickname that stuck.
By happenstance, we found ourselves in the YMHA gym on 14th Street and First Avenue dubbed “Harvey World” after the guy who ran the place. For three decades, I was a non-card-carrying regular at the early afternoon run.
Cummings showed up that day unannounced. We were stunned to see each other, especially me, because I was within strangling distance. If the ballers didn’t know about the friction that existed between us, they sure sensed it soon enough. He had been retired a short while following 12 NBA seasons, but during his four as a Knick, and for years afterward, “Shortcummings” often made the column.
We first met when the 6-foot-9 heavyweight forward, who wielded an unconventional two-handed, terminal jumper, was a Bucks rookie in 1979-80. Agent Ron Grinker, who had helped recruit Sandy Koufax to the University of Cincinnati on a basketball scholarship and once was a law partner of Jerry Springer, arranged for his Bearcats client to play for my Rucker Park team that summer.
In the early 1970s, four cherished crusades at 155th Street & Eighth Avenue, Butch Purcell and I coached stacked decks sponsored by Nets owner Roy Boe:
Julius Erving, Charlie Scott, Billy Paultz, Ollie Taylor, Joe DePre, Bob Love, Kenny Charles, Mike Riordan, Bob McIntyre, Earl Foreman, Walter Szczerbiak, Jeff Halliburton, Manny Leaks, Dave Brownbill, George Bruns, Billy Schaeffer, Pat McFarland, Gene Mumford, Mel Knight, George Green, Jimmy Ard, Bobby Lecki, Larry Kenon and Tom “the Sundance Kid” Chapin were responsible for two titles, finishing third to Tiny Archibald’s team in Year 1, to name most of them.
“You couldn’t win with that team!” Red Holzman exclaimed when he found out. “You’d better never write anything bad again about my coaching.”
In 1980 and ’81, Roberto Mueller’s Pony Sneakers sponsored our teams, coached primarily by Wagner’s Ray Hodge. Along with Cummings, we had indomitable Sam Worthen, Louis Orr, Clyde Bradshaw, Tony Murphy (the nation’s leading scorer from Southern University), Eddie Moss, Bobby Willis, Evan Ford, Ian Mahoney and Gary Garland.
Bradshaw and Garland had been DePaul’s starting backcourt for three NCAA Tournament teams. Both were legit pro prospects. Garland’s jumper was pristine from 15 and beyond. Unfortunately, he had a habit of not arriving in the park until almost the conclusion of the layup line.Follow @NYPostsports