Garden to host star attraction

Former New York Knicks player Cal Ramsey attends a news conference at New York’s Madison Square Garden, Tuesday, March 18, 2014.
Associated Press / Richard Drew, File

The last time a basketball all-star game was held at Madison Square Garden was in 1998 when capacity crowds turned out to watch the likes of Kevin Garnett and Michael Jordan.

This all-star attraction matches the best of the best from the Eastern and the Western conferences. But the three-day program does not only contain an all-star attraction. It encompasses a rookie game, slam dunk contest and other individual player skill performances, both at Madison Square Garden in Manhattan and Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

While the game itself takes place Sunday night at the Garden and is usually an offensive showcase, the National Basketball Association will perform activities at other sites, as well.

An ‘old timer’ who expected to be on hand for some of the activities, especially the ones the Knicks are involved in during the regular season is Cal Ramsey, who goes around in a wheelchair as a result of a tear in his knee. Therefore, at press time he will be at his upper Manhattan residence watching the game on television. With his disabilities he is still able to perform his duties for the Knicks and be an assistant at New York University. He is very well known in the area.

The 77-year-old Ramsey is still very much involved with basketball although not as much on the actual court as he used to be. And he is graduate of the Division III college, which still draws the fans even though they are not top-rated in the metropolitan area.

In 1998, he underwent knee surgery but still manages as much as he is able to in both categories, and tries not to miss a game. At half time of the college games, he advises his head coach and assistant coaches at NYU what to do different during the actual competition — such as in rebounding, correcting turnovers and defense. He also helps the players how to further their basketball game and in internship at jobs.

With the Knicks in his early years in the National Basketball Association, Ramsey did not last with them long nor with St. Louis, who drafted him, and Syracuse because there were better payers on the rosters. He soon would retire from the court and stay in another category — on the sideline as much as possible.

Off the court with the Knicks, Ramsey, a force behind the team, stresses education, is involved in a goodwill program and a stay-in-school program all for the kids. He is an ambassador for Madison Square Garden and is familiar figure at all of the team’s home games. In addition, he is involved in their summer camp for kids. A vital force behind the Knicks, Ramsey is a director of special projects and in the community relations representative.

Besides his many positions with the Knicks, he served at one time as a color commentator both for the Knicks and college games in the met area.. And he still helps in recruiting high school players for New York University and speaks to the future players and their parents, as well. He is very well liked by all concerned on and off the courts.

Ramsey, himself, played at Commerce High School, which later became Brandeis High, and in various summer leagues.

On the upcoming all-star game, he thinks it’s a great idea to bring it to New York, again, for it is the mecca of basketball and everybody wants to play here.

“We expect a great enthusiastic crowd,” he went on. “We’ll enjoy (such a game). New York City will be booming (especially around the Garden area.).” Players from all over the world come to play in the NBA. Nowadays there are many players from different countries in the NBA.

Ramsey is the all-time leading rebounder at New York University with 1101 caroms in the late ‘50s.

On the current Knicks, Ramsey noted that they do not have a good team.

Phil Jackson had a plan to improve on the team’s roster at the start of the season, according to Ramsay. He wanted to bring in players who he wanted.

Of course, injuries to key personnel hurt the team, which is really based around veteran all-star performer Carmelo ‘Melo’ Anthony, who is a player on the current all-star game roster.

“We have a new coach and a new plan,” he added before a recent game at the Coles Sports Center, home of the NYU hoop team. “If you’re not healthy and don’t have good players, you’re not going to win.”

While the Knicks are struggling, the current New York University team is off to a decent start. They recently put on a thrilling game against Rochester but lost 64-60. Still, the team seems to be good enough to go to the NCAA Division III tournament.

The Violets are led by forwards Evan Kupferberg and Costis Gontikas to go along with Kaheem Harris, a very strong player, and have a chance to go all the way. Harris recently earned player of the week. Except for a few games, the coaches are very impressed with their team.

“We developed a good inside-outside combination with Kupferberg and Gontikas, the big guys down low who can score, and an outside presence with Harris and Ross Udine, who can dribble and shoot well,” said a team spokesman.

New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (7) goes to the basket against Oklahoma City Thunder guard Reggie Jackson (15) during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015 at Madison Square Garden in New York. The Knicks won 100-92.
Associated Press / Mary Altaffer

More from Around NYC