Remembering Dolph Schayes for his off-the-court connections

“Remembering Dolph Schayes for his off-the-court connections,” is an article to which I was proud to contribute. In addition to being one of the NBA’s greatest basketball players, Dolph, you embodied the word “mensch.”   While researching the article, I enjoyed hearing recollections from friends and family.

Dolph was born in the Bronx, the son of Romanian Jewish immigrants, and made Syracuse his new home after being drafted by the Syracuse Nationals, becoming a integral member of the Central New York community.

Dolph was “arguably, to professional basketball, what Sandy Koufax and Hank Greenberg were to baseball — the most prominent professional Jewish athlete to ever to play his sport,” according to The New York Jewish Week article When Basketball Was Jewish.

After he retired from professional basketball and became a local real estate mogul, Dolph continued to play basketball himself and to mentor others.  This must have contributed to the high energy level and good health he displayed all these years. He also kept his mind active, loved to tell stories, jokes and play trivia games.

I have so many wonderful personal memories of this great man. My first memory of Dolph is as a pre-teen camper at his summer camp in the Adirondacks; he taught me the game of basketball. Dolph later served as a mentor to my son David, instilling in him an enduring love for basketball, so much so that he is pursuing a career in Sports Management and a dream to work in the NBA.

At Turning Stone Resort & Casino, (2005) I was proud to honor Dolph at a special 24-Second Shot Clock/NBA Hall of Fame commemoration, along with Earl Lloyd, John Havlicek and Bill Walton.

Dolph and my uncle, Burt Lowitz were close friends.  They golfed together every weekend and also went to the movies often . . .  “Dolph always sat in the back row, so he didn’t block anyone else,” he mentioned, recalling Dolph’s kindness.

Dolph was devoted to his wife, Naomi.  It was obvious they shared a rare and special love, which grew over a lifetime, enveloping their children and grandchildren.  It is well known that Dolph coached the U.S. Maccabiah Games basketball team to a gold medal in 1977.  Not so well known, Dolph subsequently mentored three generations of Schayes who also competed in the Maccabiah games.

Here are a few of Dolph’s many professional accomplishments:

  • led the Syracuse Nationals to their 1955 NBA championship
  • 12-time NBA All-Star (1951-62)
  • led the NBA in career scoring
  • led the Syracuse Nationals to their 1955 NBA championship
  • 12-time NBA All-Star (1951-62)
  • led the NBA in career scoring at his retirement (1964),
  • Philadelphia 76ers coach, named NBA Coach of the Year (1966)
  • election to the Basketball Hall of Fame (1973)
  • election to the International Jewish Hall of Fame (1979)
  • named one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history (1996)
  • Haaretz Top 25 Greatest Jewish Athletes (2013)
  • inducted into the Bronx Walk of Fame, where he received a street named in his honor, called “Dolph Schayes Street” (2015)

Click to link to this article:


  1. Lisa Meltzer Penn says:

    Hi Debbie,

    FYI Link doesn’t work and there’s nothing on blog.


    __________________ Lisa Meltzer Penn


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