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The Early Days of Professional Basketball Statue
Sculptor: Karoy, Marble Classics Artist
Professional and College basketball coach Joe Lapchick and a young basketball player statue
Size: 22" x 14" x 10.5" (final trophy measurements)
Location: Bulgaria based artist-sculptor
Material: Plasticine maquette with an internal wire frame. Notice the matchbox for scale in the basketball statue photo.
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Find more about our sculptors: Dave Damon and Valentin.

Joseph Bohomiel Lapchick was born at the turn of the century (April 12, 1900) in Yonkers, New York to Czech immigrants. As a boy in Yonkers, New York, he helped his struggling family make ends meet by scrounging for coal near the railroad tracks. At age 12 the youngster started playing basketball around his neighborhood, wearing a uniform his mother had made for him. Like many youngsters of the era, he stopped going to school after the eighth grade. While working as a golf caddy and in a factory, the 15-year-old found he could make $5 to $10 per night playing for local basketball teams. At age 19 he was suiting up for four different touring teams and pocketing up to $100 per game. "I played one manager against the other," Lapchick said years later. "I bargained with the managers for every game. When there was a clash of dates, I took the best offer."

As a ten year-old in Yonkers a young Lapchick was introduced to a new game that had worked its way down from New England: basketball. Lapchick picked up a basketball for the first time just two decades after the game was invented. It wasn't more than 4 years later that he dropped out of High School in 1914, which was rather common in that era, and soon thereafter pursued basketball professionally. At a staggering 6'5", he was a valuable commodity at a time when a jump ball was held after every basket.

Joe Lapchick even surprisingly played basketball with the likes of Babe Ruth, in an era of bygone protective knee padding and basketballs that were "oversized lopsided and blackened by dirt and old age," said Lapchick in his own words, balls that wouldn't last for an entire game. He was the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar of his time. When the height of an average professional basketball player might have been 5'8" or 5'9". At a time when team captains often agreed to unlimited personal fouls, so fans could see the stars play [thus, the necessity of knee pads]. At halftime in the dressing room, under the Madison Square Garden main floor, it was not uncommon for Lapchick to drink a Coke and smoke Lucky Strikes cigarettes while his players bummed smokes off of him. There was no game clock or electronic scoreboard yet. Some old basketball gyms still used a chalkboard and a scorer who rewrote numbers in chalk as they were tallied. The official scorer at mid court was also often the timekeeper as well. It was his duty to fire a starter pistol at halftime and at end of the game.

A pioneer with the barnstorming Original Celtics out of New York. A basketball team that was actually the second incarnation of the New York Celtics who had disbanded during World War I. The Celtics joined the American Basketball League (ABL) in 1926 and won two straight titles. So dominant were Lapchick, Nat Holman, and the rest of the Celtics that the league insisted the team disband. It did, in 1928. Lapchick and two other former Celtics then joined the Cleveland Rosenblums, a team owned by a department store magnate who had named the team after himself. With Lapchick starring at the pivot, the "Rosenblum Celtics" basketball team won two straight ABL titles. However, the Great Depression forced an end to the ABL in 1931.

Conditions were spartan in those times. When a large cut on Lapchick's wrist became infected with uniform dye, a teammate rubbed off the scab with a towel and doused the wound with whiskey. Luckily for Lapchick, the treatment worked.

First in many ways, Lapchick had the first sneaker contract with a company that eventually become known as Footlocker and he represented them throughout his life. In his time, Footlocker was known as the Kinney Shoe Corporation until 1974 when they formally adopted the Footlocker name. In the photo you can see canvas a pair of old basketball shoes with the name of Joe Lapchick on the ankle patch.

Previous Page | Next Page - Custom Engraved Hall of Fame Trophy Award

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Page I - Custom Engraved Trophy Award Sculpting Services
Page II - Joe Lapchick Character Award Trophy Presentation

Page III - The Early Days of Professional Basketball Statue
Page IV - Racial Tolerance and Integrity in Basketball Award
Page V - Legendary Coaching Style of Coach Joe Lapchick
Page VI - Successful Basketball Coach of the NBA Knicks
Page VII - 2009 Joe Lapchick Character Award Winners
Page VII - Character in Basketball Engraved Trophy Award
Page IX - NBA and College Basketball Legend Award

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