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Authors Dolph Grundman and Sean Kirst to "talk basketball legends" at the JCC on Nov. 19

Two books published in the past four years have deep, intimate ties to professional basketball in Syracuse. The authors of these books are coming to the JCC of Syracuse to share their insights and stories about the trailblazing ground each of their Hall of Fame subjects made during the National Basketball Association’s infancy.

Cover of the book "Dolph Schayes and the Rise of Professional Basketball."Dolph Grundman, author of “Dolph Schayes and the Rise of Professional Basketball” (Syracuse University Press, 2014), and Sean Kirst, co-author of “Moonfixer: The Basketball Journey of Earl Lloyd” (Syracuse University Press, 2010), will speak about their books on Wednesday, Nov. 19, at 7 p.m. at the JCC of Syracuse. Also scheduled to be on hand for this special talk is Dolph Schayes. The event is free and open to the public.

Dolph Schayes, star of the Syracuse Nationals basketball team during the 1950s and 1960s, is one of the most recognizable names among Jewish players in basketball history—and rightfully so—because his accomplishments are staggering. He was named one of the fifty greatest players of all time by the NBA, and he held six NBA records, including one for career scoring, at his retirement.

On Halloween night 1950, Earl Lloyd became the NBA’s first African-American player when he stepped on a small gymnasium court in Rochester, N.Y., for the Washington Capitals against the Rochester Royals. Lloyd, nicknamed “Moonfixer” in college, went on to play six seasons for the Syracuse Nationals and, along with Schayes, helped lead the team to the NBA championship in 1955.

“We are extremely delighted and fortunate to be welcoming Dolph Grundman, Sean Kirst and Dolph Schayes for this very unique event, which will be like a flashback to the earliest days of the NBA,” said Marci Erlebacher, JCC of Syracuse executive director. “And to have Dolph Schayes attend will be especially meaningful. He is a part of the JCC family, and the Schayes Family Gymnasium here is a testament to that. How appropriate that we’ll be showcasing Dolph [Schayes] and both authors and their books, and offering basketball fans of all ages a glimpse of Syracuse basketball and NBA history.”

In Grundman’s book, he presents readers with a first-of-its-kind portrait of Schayes. He chronicles Schayes’ life from his early days as the child of Jewish Romanian immigrants, through his illustrious basketball career, first at New York University, then as part of the Syracuse Nationals. In writing about Schayes’ career, Grundman also reflects on many of the revolutionary changes that were happening in the professional basketball world, changes that affected not only Schayes and his contemporaries but also the essence of the sport.

Kirst co-wrote “Moonfixer: The Basketball Journey of Earl Lloyd” with Lloyd. One of three African Americans to enter the NBA in 1950, Lloyd played seven games for the Washington Capitals before the team folded. After the Syracuse Nationals, he played for the Detroit Pistons until he retired in 1961. Through a series of extraordinary conversations with Kirst, Lloyd reveals in his book his fierce determination to succeed, his frustration with the plight of many young black men, and his sincere desire for the nation to achieve true equality among its citizens.

Copies of both Grundman’s and Kirst’s books will be available to purchase from Barnes & Noble during the Nov. 19 event, and both authors along with Schayes will be on hand to sign their books. The event also will kick off a week-long JCC of Syracuse and Barnes & Noble book fair in which a portion of the bookstore’s proceeds from select sales will be donated to the center.

Dolph Grundman is professor of history at Metropolitan State University of Denver, Colorado. He is the author of Jim Pollard: The Kangaroo Kid.

Sean Kirst is a columnist for The Post-Standard in Syracuse and also author of “The Ashes of Lou Gehrig.” He was awarded the 2008 Ernie Pyle Journalism Award for human interest writing, given by the Scripps Howard Foundation to the one newspaper writer nationwide who most exemplifies the works of Pyle, a famed World War II correspondent.

For more information on the Nov. 19 event and book fair, contact the JCC of Syracuse at 315-445-2360 or info@jccsyr.org.

 

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