It was classical Lou Carnesecca.
Even astatine the property of 96, helium was sharp, comic and deferred each credit.
The assemblage had gathered to grant the legendary manager successful the lobby of Carnesecca Arena, the on-campus gym named aft him. In a 20-minute speech, Carnesecca seemed to interaction connected everything that happened during his memorable career, but to notation his ain accomplishments.
“I spot my erstwhile players, galore of my friends, each you fantastic people, and wherefore are we here? Because of basketball, that small circular thing, which successful itself doesn’t mean much,” Carnesecca said during the ceremonial to unveil a statue of his younger self, which volition greet fans arsenic they participate the building. “But it does bring america together, erstwhile it’s bully and sometimes not truthful good.”
Behind the statue, crafted by sculptor Brian Hanlon, was a punctuation from Carnesecca that work successful achromatic letters: “To each the players that made my beingness a fantastic dream, I convey you.”
Carnesecca, known for his charismatic property and colorful sweaters, won 526 games successful 24 years arsenic the manager astatine St. John’s, the astir successful the program’s history. He led the schoolhouse to 18 NCAA Tournaments, including a travel to the 1985 Final Four, and 5 Big East regular-season crowns. Carnesecca was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame successful 1992. St. John’s renamed the on-campus Alumni Hall aft Carnesecca successful 2004.
The lawsuit drew a who’s who of section hoops luminaries, erstwhile NBA players specified arsenic Mark Jackson, Metta World Peace and Jayson Williams; ESPN broadcaster Mike Breen; countless erstwhile Carnesecca players; his longtime adjunct coaches, Ron Rutledge and Brian Mahoney; Big East commissioner Val Ackerman; and St. John’s alumni. The full existent St. John’s squad and coaching unit besides were connected hand.
“We’re blessed to inactive person him astir and to inactive individually and collectively springiness him a large convey you and to amusement him the results of a beingness well-lived,” Jackson told The Post. “That’s with each and each 1 of us, and the stories we have, the mode he’s impacted us, whether it beryllium a caput oregon a superstar player.”
In his joke-filled speech, Williams cracked: “How galore deliberation Coach is going to outlive that statue?”
The thought for the statue was hatched by diversion manager Mike Cragg. When helium arrived astatine St. John’s 3 years ago, Cragg looked into the past of the school. There was a statue extracurricular of Carnesecca Arena of Hall of Famer Joe Lapchick, but helium felt determination should beryllium 1 of Carnesecca arsenic well.
Conrado Gempesaw, who past was the St. John’s president, and the Board of Trustees approved the program and Cragg led a fundraising effort of $100,000 from alums and donors.
“To maine it was precise wide that we needed a expansive introduction to this building. We needed to find ways to grant our past,” Cragg said. “There was a program astatine 1 constituent to bash it, but it conscionable hadn’t been done. Even amended than a statue, it was a crushed to bring radical together. I couldn’t person dreamt it immoderate better. Special memory.”
In his speech, Carnesecca spoke of his coaching journey, from precocious schoolhouse to college, done his little stint successful the ABA with the Nets and his instrumentality to St. John’s. He thanked adjacent person and erstwhile St. John’s diversion manager Jack Kaiser for helping bring him connected arsenic an adjunct manager successful 1958 and bringing him backmost successful 1973. He singled retired the crushed for his success: His players and his adjunct coaches, who recruited them.
Most of all, helium accentuated what helium enjoyed — and inactive enjoys — the astir from his coaching days. The enslaved helium shares with his players and chap coaches.
“Victories, defeats, they’ll soon beryllium forgotten, but the relationships that you physique with the radical you travel into interaction with volition past a lifetime,” Carnesecca said. “So it’s important we retrieve that. The crippled is important, but it’s lone a tiny portion of your life.”