If you’ve ever wondered why New York City is recognized as “the Mecca of Basketball,” you would have found multiple reasons Saturday afternoon as Boys High alum gathered in Manhattan to celebrate their great legacy of basketball.
The annual Boys High Reunion, which started 23 years ago at the home of alumnus Jerry Powell, is now held at Walt “Clyde” Frazier’s popular restaurant on 10th Avenue at 38th Street.
“Each year, it had gotten bigger,” said one of the alums, host and former New York Knicks teammate of Frazier’s, Mel Davis. “I reached out to Clyde. He kindly opened his doors to us to have the event here. This is the third year. Seeing all of the guys together is a blessing.”
Davis noted his sadness regarding the recent passing of their friend and colleague, radio personality Vaughn Harper, also a Boys High teammate. Harper attended last year’s reunion. A moment of silence was observed in his honor.
“That’’s why it’s really good to have these while we’re standing,” Davis said.
It’s not only a blessing but also a great history lesson. Powell, entertainingly states that he only lost four games in four years, as he graciously introduces this reporter and AmNews photographer Bill Moore to his guest while mentioning each one’s accomplishments. He also notes that he started as a freshman and played with NBA greats Lenny Wilkens and Connie Hawkins. “I played with Lenny; Connie played with me,” he said jokingly.
He also jokingly said, “The guys get to tell the same lies that they tell every year.” That comment is somewhat exaggerated, because some great moments in sports history have been made by some of the men who gathered this day at Clyde’s Wine and Dine.
Hugh Evans, the first Black referee to officiate NBA championship games, was also there.
Evans, also a former Boys High player, stated, “I went straight from reffing Pee Wee Kirkland-Rucker Games in Harlem, to reffing in the NBA. I went to a camp to prepare me to work college games, but my instructor, Mike DiTomasso, a professional referee, thought that I was NBA ready.”
It was just one of the compelling and fascinating stories told that day. Evans, now an assistant supervisor of referees, officiated 28 NBA seasons before his retirement in 2001. During the 1995-96 season, Evans was ranked the second best league official.