New inductees enter N.Y.C. hoop hall

A Jan. 28, 1973 photo of Phil Sellers, 19-year-old forward from Brooklyn who was drawing rave notices as a freshman with the Rutgers University basketball team.
AP Photo
AP Photo

It’s this time of the year again! It’s the round balls going through the hoops all over the place.

There was no finer way to start the season off than by inducting eight new members, including a contributor, photographer and coach, into the New York City Basketball Hall of Fame.

Players and fans of the sport today certainly recall Phil Sellers, a Brooklyn native, who was a tremendous player on the Rutgers University team of 1975-76, Anthony Mason, who was one of the stars for the Knicks during the 1990s, George Johnson, who made a name for the then St. John’s Redmen in the mid to late ‘70s, and Barney Sedran, who played the pro game many years ago before the NBA was born.

Another player honored was Isaac ‘Rab’ Walthers, a great player who helped to lead the Benjamin Franklin High of Manhattan to the city-wide championship back in 1946.

Then there were photographer George Kalinsky, Providence Coach Joe Mullaney, and contributor-coach Teddy Jones.

Everyone made their contributions in order to earn a spot in the New York City Basketball Hall of Fame. A committee, headed by seven trustees, including Howard Garfinkel, Howard Evans, and Tom Konchalski, made the 2010 selections, and honored them at the New York Athletic Club in Manhattan.

“It’s a great honor to be inducted into the New York City Basketball Hall of Fame,” said Sellers. “Being a New York City (Brooklyn) kid and New York being a major part of my development, it rates among as one of the best honors one can possibly have. Any kid who comes from the mecca of basketball, New York, to be honored by the City and by this organization is a great feeling. This is really special.”

Sellers is now out of basketball, working for a private investor company in Roseland, New Jersey.

“I’m away from basketball right now,” added Sellers, who received many honors during his playing career. “Still, I shoot some basketballs in a little park in my neighborhood of East Orange, New Jersey, but nothing competitive.”

He is not thinking about going back into the game as he coached for a while as an assistant coach, under head coach Tom Young at Rutgers for a couple of years.

“Really, I want to get away from basketball,” he went on. “As a coach you have to put in a lot of time. Coaching is very competitive today. I gave coaching on the high school level some thought but it is time consuming.”

Sellers comes from the Brownsville section of Brooklyn and played with the likes of Fly Williams and World ‘B’ Free, during their high school and outside of high school- leagues and tournaments.

Sellers became a two-time high school basketball all-American at Thomas Jefferson. At Rutgers, he started as a freshman and averaged double-double right away. And his scoring and rebounding records still stand today. He played one season with Detroit of the NBA at a time when the league was very competitive.

“To be inducted among the greats with the names that preceded me into the New York City Basketball Hall of Fame is an honor,” Mason said before the ceremony started. “To compete, be known in, and play well in New York is an accomplishment. I’m very happy that they recognized me. I feel really honored to be in the Hall of Fame.”

Mason played at Springfield Gardens High School, where he was coached by Ken Fielder, whose son Jay Fielder, played football in the National Football League. He then went on to Tennessee State University, where he became the third all-time leader in scoring with 9656 points. He donned a Knick uniform where he saw action under then Coach Pat Riley. He also competed on four other pro teams.

Now residing in New Rochelle, Mason would like to get back into the game as a coach, or even a scout.

“I want to get back involved,” he added. “I enjoy watching my boys in action but every once in a while you miss the physical (action) and banging. Anthony Mason, Jr. is with the Miami Heat. He (once) had a dream to play in the NBA and I’m happy where he is at. Anthony Mason is a freshman at Niagara University.”

Anthony Mason, Sr. now has an NBA license for Big and Tall, a clothing sports apparel; it’s based in Chicago. He travels back and forth.

While George Johnson arrived at the New York Athletic Club, where the ceremonies were held, the first words that he said were “I’m still trying to take it all in.”

“It’s a great honor to be acknowledged in our home town by a city that has such sharp basketball minds,” Johnson went on.

Johnson, now residing in Westbury, Long Island, is very interested in coaching if the opportunity arises.

A former resident of Bed-Stuy and Brownsville, the cager played at New Utrecht High School and St. Johns, where he played under the legendary coach Lou Carnesecca. Playing under Carnesecca has been a great experience.

Overall, the New York City Basketball Hall of Fame has 173 members.

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