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Former YU Bball Coach Dr. Jonathan Halpert Inducted Into NYS Basketball Hall of Fame

New York State Basketball Hall of Fame class of 2024 inductees with Coach Halpert (seated, far right).

On Sunday, March 17, at a ceremony in Glens Falls, New York Coach Dr. Jonathan Halpert of New Rochelle was inducted into the New York State Basketball Hall of Fame, which is organized and operated by the Basketball Coaches Association of New York, Inc. (BCANY). The NYS Basketball Hall of Fame honors the best coaches in the history of basketball in the state. Additionally, it honors individuals who have made statewide contributions to the game in New York State.

In his remarks, Halpert began by thanking David Archer and the committee for selecting him. “When I got the letter, I was shocked. It is a great honor to be here,” Halpert said, adding, “I would like to recognize Yeshiva University who gave me a chance to continue coaching. My first year I was 3 and 18, my second year I was 2 and 17. I want to thank them for having faith in me.

“I want to thank my wife, Aviva, who holds the NCAA world record of attending the most games by a wife, 1,229 games,” he quipped.

Halpert thanked his family but highlighted that they were not able to attend since his grandson was playing in his JV high school championship game. His grandson’s team won the game.

Halpert thanked his players and his predecessor as YU coach, Red Sarachek. “Looking around the room, I see many people here who are in my age bracket. So they should remember Red. Everything that I know about basketball I learned from Red. One of the great ironies is that I am in the Hall of Fame and Red is not, which is some kind of injustice. As I go into this Hall of Fame, I go with Red.”

Reflecting on his career, Halpert shared, “Big wins, terrible losses, players, relationships, so many things going on, changes in the game … One of the questions I’ve been asked all the time as a coach is who was your best player? And I never answered the question because why make one friend and 225 enemies? The truth is, I don’t answer it. What I say is I’ve had a lot. I don’t have best players. I have good players. I was very fortunate to have very good players.

Longtime YU basketball Coach Halpert accepting his induction into the New York State Basketball Hall of Fame.

“Today, we are obsessed with the best, everything has to be the best, the top 10. Is this guy better than that one? And now they have the ultimate craziness, the GOAT, the ‘greatest of all time.’ It’s not good enough to be great in just your time. The best really is an accolade because it’s relevant. You’re only best today. We all know, as coaches, records are made to be broken. You are better until someone else comes along. And then what are you? Second, third, fourth. You’re walking around saying, ‘Hey, that guy is the third best guy.’ No one says that. But good? Good is forever; good is permanent.

“There are 11 inductees today going into the Hall of Fame,” he continued. “We are all good. Nobody here is ‘gooder’ than everyone else. Today, I am going to be good. Tomorrow, I am going to be good. In 10 years, I am going to be good. It’s forever. That’s what’s so special, to be able to say, ‘Johnny, you were a good coach.’ You don’t need anything else to fulfill your career.”

Halpert then turned to the Torah and the story of creation. “As God created the world, each day, God said it was good … Take a quick look at the Bible. It says ‘very good.’ Everything working in perfect harmony, together, is what makes it very good.

“There, in the Bible, is the first principle of coaching. Our job is never to create the best player. Our job is to create good teams, people working in harmony together. That was the greatest satisfaction, developing good teams. If it is good enough for God, then the word good is good enough for me.”

Halpert concluded, “I just want to say thank you, from the bottom of my heart, when you say ‘Johnny, you were a good coach.’”

Halpert received his bachelor of arts and BHL (bachelor of Hebrew literature) degrees from Yeshiva in 1966. He went on to earn a master’s degree in 1967 from New York University in educational psychology and a Ph.D. in 1978 from Yeshiva University’s Ferkauf Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences. At 42 years, Halpert remains the longest-ever tenured NCAA men’s basketball coach in New York City, and currently holds the title of fourth longest tenured coach nationwide.

Judy Berger is a Bronx/Westchester/Connecticut community editor at The Jewish Link.

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