The Bronx Basketball Hall of Fame ’s second annual induction dinner and ceremony on Nov. 2 at Villa Barone Manor in Throggs Neck drew around 450 people to honor the 16 newest members.
The lineup of inductees included former NBA and WNBA players Butch Lee, Jamal Mashburn, Cal Ramsey, Steve Sheppard and Niesha Alice Butler. On the coaching side, Bobby Cremins, Jack Curran, Jane Morris, John Issacs, and Johnny Mathis entered the hall.
The scouts who help coaches evaluate were also recognized, with legends like Tom Konchalski and Howard Garfinkel among the enshrined. Among the players who left their stamp on the high school game and into the college ranks were Anne Gregory and Debbie Miller Palmore. There was also acclaim for former referee Hugh Evans and the former executive director of the National Basketball Players Association Michelle Roberts.
Hall of Fame president Derek Doward praised the five females that are part of this year’s class, calling it his “most proud” achievement. Overall, the diversity in the room was an inspiring sight, according to Bronx Basketball Hall of Fame committee member Julius Allen.
Basketball was the unifying purpose.
“One thing sports does is bring all races and generations together,” Allen said.
The reunions with old friends had plenty of significance, too. Some hadn’t seen each other in decades, which created a level of excitement that stayed consistent throughout. The posing for pictures went deep into the night.
“People who hadn’t seen each other for 20 years were catching up,” said Stephen Lebow, secretary director of press for the Bronx Basketball Hall of Fame. “It was really nice.”
Butler is remembered in these parts for her career at Riverdale Country School which then took her to Georgia Tech.
But even after a career that vaulted her to the all-time points mark for any high schooler in New York City, Butler has used her platform to achieve other forms of success besides scoring over 3,000 points. She now works as a software engineer and wants inner city youth to know they can find similar opportunities, too.
Butler is an advocate for youth to pursue sports as long as it opens more doors. Sports should be “a vehicle,” Butler told the attendees.
DeWitt Clinton High School, known for its rich basketball history, was represented by alums Lee and Sheppard. The Bronx Basketball Hall of Fame also unveiled a new logo with a silhouette of Nate “Tiny” Archibald, a Clinton legend and a member of the first annual Bronx Basketball Hall of Fame class.
Mathis was one seven members posthumously inducted and his induction came only two months after his passing from complications with gout and arthritis.
Mathis was the head boys basketball coach at John F. Kennedy High School for 35 years. It was a run which yielded five Bronx PSAL titles and a pair of city titles.
A “10-dribble salute” for Mathis was ordered by Doward. This featured 10 dribbles of a basketball while the crowd sat in a moment of silence. Later on, Mathis’ son, J.C., accepted the award package of a souvenir basketball and a plaque.
“He was really excited about it,” J.C. said of his father’s appreciation to the Bronx Basketball Hall of Fame. “Since he thought it was a really big deal, I was happy and excited to accept it for him.”
Besides a new class in 2024, the next steps for the Bronx Basketball Hall of Fame could include a physical location to store their tributes.
Their goal is to partner with a local institution to make it happen.
“Right now I would say we are the number one basketball hall of fame in the city,” Allen said. “We are setting a high standard.”