November 7, 2014


Filed under: Mickey Reilly — hoopscoach @ 11:27 am

Wanted to send out a happy birthday shout-out to my long-time friend Mickey Reilly.

I recall first meeting him; we must have been in the 5th or 6th grade. It was the summer, we were up in the yard playing basketball.

Mickey moved to the neighborhood with his older brothers Sean and Pat.

We became classmates, teammates and drinking buddies.

Happy birthday Mick, you are one of the best!

Your friend,

November 6, 2014


Filed under: Farrell's — hoopscoach @ 12:01 pm

Thanks to Buzzy Bain for the hook-up.

November 5, 2014


Filed under: Church,Holy Name — hoopscoach @ 11:31 am
Tags: ,

Walking up Windsor Place with my girlfriend, holding hands I feel wonderful. Her dad is way out in front, he walks a lot faster than we do.

As we get to the corner, right outside Ballard’s Pharmacy, we cross Windsor Place towards Bob’s Hardware store – her dad is already on the other side of the avenue, walking past Holy Name school.

“Damn your dad walks fast,” I say to her.

“I know, he’s always in a rush.”

Whenever I see him going to or coming from the train station, he’s speed walking.


Standing outside Bob’s, we wait for the light to turn green. We’re still holding hands.  It’s the corner I have stood on many times in the past to go to the schoolyard and to school. Usually I cross when there’s no cars, I even cross sometimes when there are cars coming. It’s a game we like to play. Drivers honk, but I just give them the finger.

When the light turns green, she starts to cross, I let go of her hand.

She’s in the middle of the avenue, I am still on the curb.

“Come on,” she says.

I look at her. Then up the block; her dad is getting closer to the church. There is a car stopped at all three corners. People are crossing the street, on their way to church.

“What are you doing?” she asks.

“Forget it, I’m going upstairs,” I announce as I turn around and head towards my apartment door.

She continues crossing the street and gets to the other side while the light turns red. We’ve hung out on that corner many times too.

I watch her walking past the convent. I am standing in the hallway. I look at her, she waves and keeps on walking. God, what the fuck am I doing?

Racing up the two flights of stairs I sprint to the window facing ninth avenue and watch her continue her walk to the church. She is jogging to catch up to her dad.

Sitting by the window. I feel like an idiot.




Filed under: The Lot — hoopscoach @ 7:43 am
Tags: , , ,

Kids in the Lot

November 2, 2014


Filed under: Depression,Robin Williams — hoopscoach @ 10:53 am
Tags: , ,

This past summer the news of Robin Williams committing suicide rocked us.

Reports say one of the best entertainers of all-time battled depression.

While crying over the news, something hit me; I too struggle with depression. Seems like I’m one of 16 million people.

Damn, picture that!

In seven years of blogging, this is probably my hardest entry to post. It’s not easy revealing your feelings.

But fuck it, here goes.

Robin Williams

This past June I turned fifty years old.  Oftentimes I find myself wondering what’s ahead? Know what I’m talking about? I’m always wondering what the future holds?

Mr. Williams was diagnosed with this “quiet” disease.  Cancer is talked about on a daily basis. Pink is the official color.

I have tried to learn as much as I can about this awful affliction they call depression.  I have scoured the internet for articles to educate myself.

Depression: How come no one ever talks about it?

Just once I would like to hear:

Hey how you feelin’ today?”

“I’m a little depressed.” 

But the answer is usually, “I’m doing well and you?”


People who are depressed probably feel they are too “macho” to admit it.

Maybe it’s pride, stubborn pride. Yeah that’s it.

Or, maybe they’re embarrassed to admit it.

Maybe you’re afraid someone will make you feel worse?

“Get over it.” How many times have you heard that one?

Shit, maybe some people don’t realize they are depressed.

No one teaches us how to cope or how to deal with depression. They never taught me anything in school about it.


Did you know October was Depression Awareness Month? I sure the hell didn’t. Just went 31 days and didn’t hear it mentioned once.

I’m here to tell you that’s its okay. But first you have to admit to yourself that you are depressed. You have to stop running away, stop hiding and stop denying.

Everyone talks about “toughing it out.”

Stay strong, battle, don’t give up…fuck all that!

Let your feelings me known.

Sit down with someone and talk. Call a friend. E-mail them. Text Message. Do what ya gotta do.

Listen, you’re not a bad person if you are depressed. It’s no one’s fault.

There is a stigma attached to depression. But we can’t let what others think hold us down. Here’s a little secret, I used to worry about what others thought of me. Once I stopped worrying about that shit, my life improved.

Who cares what people say behind your back. If they don’t have the balls to say it to your face, FUCK ‘EM!

Don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Matter of fact, do it now.

I have heard people say someone is a coward, weak or selfish when they commit suicide. I don’t buy that shit at all. I do know that you’re a stronger person if you ask for, or seek help.

Depression has led people to the bottle, cigarettes, drugs and violence.

Shoot, something as simple as eating too much is another escape route from depression. It’s a warning sign.

Motivational and Inspirational quotes get me through the rough times; matter of fact I start my day off with some hot coffee and an uplifting quote. I listen to music and exercise too.

My chinese meditation balls which I purchased on Canal Street 20 years ago have been by my side all this time.

There’s also Yoga, Pilates, stretching and deep breathing that has helped pull me through. There’s a ton of ways to combat this deadly disease. Of course though you have to take the first step.

I don’t know too much about the medical side of depression like biological basis in the emotional centers of the brain and all that. What I do know is I can feel depression.  It travels from head to toe. It’s like a river of hot boiling water flowing through my body; at times taking it’s sweet fucking time putting me through misery.

I get pissed off.

Fatigue sets in.

I break down where I don’t want to do anything. I become anti-social.

I feel sad, unhappy, often times miserable; another way to put it, I’m down in the dumps.

I succumb to a mid-day nap.

Some nights I will go to bed early.

The daily stress can get the best of us.

Most of us feel this way at one time or another for short periods. (I can just hear you saying, nah, not me.)

Growing up in Brooklyn will do it to you. Nah, fuck that, you can grow up with a silver spoon in your mouth in the middle of Beverly Hills and still be depressed.

From the outside Robin Williams lived a decent life. He was talented, made people laugh and was a hell of an actor. Do yourself a favor and watch his movie, “Good Will Hunting.”

Williams was loved by many fans. Did he know people loved him? Cared about him? Were there to help? Sometimes all that bullshit doesn’t help.

I live a decent life, have a great wife and a wonderful fifteen year-old daughter. I get to do what I love (coach basketball and write), life can’t get any better, right? But then why do I feel, at times, depressed?

Having supportive people around you is good but the bottom line is you have to deal with it on your own.  You have to make a decision that you will fight every day. You can’t give up. You have to dig down deep and pull yourself up.

I know it’s impossible to be in a good mood all the time. I try to act happy around others. (Act is the operative word there.) But there’s a trigger that sets me off, a switch which turns me into someone I’m not.

Sometimes I take it out on others. Sometimes I keep it bottled up inside.

Right now I am in Starbucks and while composing this entry the Barista is sweeping around my feet trying to get all the crumbs off the floor. Look I know they have a job to do. He’s hit the leg of my chair not once but twice. I was tempted to turn around and give him a dirty look. I was perturbed. The old me would have laced into him.

During my research today I came across this line, “Untreated depression is the leading cause of suicide in the US, and suicide claims 34,000 lives in this country every year.”

Don’t worry, I will never take my own life. I love my wife and daughter too much. I love life (most of the time) coaching and writing are my passion. But believe me, I do fight bouts of depression at times. Will I ever be cured of it completely, probably not but I have to keep finding ways to off-set this horrible disease. Depression will show up from time-to-time. It’s how you handle it that matters.

There’s some great material out there on depression. Here’s another passage I found:

Depression is the grand imposter — posing as all powerful.  It can be defeated, every time, if you or the person you care about confronts it like the grand imposter that it is.

At times when depression wants to challenge me, I do my best. It’s tricky. Depression wants to trap you, to keep you down.  But I choose to confront this motherfucker…I don’t run, hit the bottle or place blame. Depression will not defeat me.

And if you feel like talking, e-mail me for my number and we’ll talk. You have a friend who cares.

By the way, thanks to my guy Frankie P. for passing this article along to me. Wayne Brady revealed longtime battle with depression.

“Some days you don’t want to move. You can’t move in the darkness.”


October 30, 2014


Filed under: Church — hoopscoach @ 2:31 pm
Tags: ,

Here she comes, walking down the steps of her stoop.

Damn, she’s with her dad. But I expected that.

I’m nervous.

Holy Shit,” I think to myself as I jump up off the stoop on the corner of Windsor and Eighth.

Mass starts in a few minutes; I can walk up Windsor Place with her. I love being with her even if it’s just for a few minutes.

Last night we hung out together until eleven.


Hope her dad doesn’t get mad. Hope he’s not pissed at me for keeping his daughter out. But at least he knew we were. I mean we were sitting right there on the stoop. Plus, I hate leaving her at night.

Now all of a sudden I want to go to church. We can sit next to each other in the pew. Should I hold her hand during mass?

Hope her dad doesn’t sit between us.

After mass we can leave together and maybe go over to the Parkhouse for breakfast. There has been talk about that joint closing soon. The Parkhill on the corner of 16th street is a possibility.

Or, maybe we can go to Pynn’s deli next to Farrell’s and get a buttered roll and a coffee? I’ll probably order their rice pudding though.

Maybe a better idea would be to go to L&J bakery for a black and white cookie and go sit on the park side.

Wonder if her dad will let her hang out with me after mass?

Fuck I’m scared. So scared my palms are sweaty and my knees are weak.

I got butterflies in my stomach.

Feels like I have a test in school. You know that feeling, right?

She spots me from across the street on the corner; she cracks a huge smile. God I love that smile.

Her dad is standing next to her looking towards Prospect Avenue to see if any cars are coming.

He’s tall, a lot taller than me. Matter of fact everyone in their family is tall.

I think that’s what I love about my girlfriend, she’s the tallest girl in our gang.  We’re really not a gang like the Sharks and Jets or even the Huns or Jokers.

We have a huge group of kids that hang out together. The number is probably close to 30. The girls we hang out our real cool. But my girlfriend, she’s the coolest by far.

Did I tell you she’s two years older than me?

That’s right, she’s sixteen.

But it doesn’t matter.

“Hey, what are you doing here?” she asks as her dad looks at me.

I don’t say anything. I really don’t know what to say. I’m too scared to say anything.

“Wanna come to church with us?” she asks as her dad looks up Windsor Place.

“Come on, hurry up or we’ll be late,” he says as he walks in front us.

I look at him, then at her. We both smile.

Wish I knew what to say. That is my biggest problem. When I am around her, I don’t say much. She always knows what to say.

As we begin to make our way up Windsor Place, she puts out her hand. I grab it and look at her.

“Think your dad minds?”

“Nah, he doesn’t care,” she reminds me.

Wouldn’t you know it; I’m going to church after all.



October 29, 2014


Filed under: Brooklyn,Windsor Terrace — hoopscoach @ 6:17 am
Tags: , ,

Bumped into an old friend tonight (On Facebook, not on ninth avenue)

We reminisced about the days of growing up in the neighborhood.

NYC Sign about parking

A couple of hours later I came across this piece from the New York Daily News on a writer who left New York City.

Here’s the author of the story with an interesting comment; he has since moved to a small town in Colorado.

I was born and raised in middle-class Brooklyn, and imagined one day raising my children in the neighborhood I grew up in — one I will never be able to afford as the row houses and apartments intended to house ordinary New Yorkers have become multi-million-dollar luxury housing, out of reach for those without Wall St. jobs or family money.

So I left, and am happier for it.

At times I have thought of writing a piece on why I left the city. And some day, I may get around to it.

One reason I left was due to the high cost of living. I was paying close to two thousand dollars a month for an apartment down on eleventh avenue. One bedroom apartment.

This was back in 1996. Seems such a long time ago.

There’s no telling what the landlord charges 18 years later.

I am not bitter nor am I jealous that I no longer can afford to live in the neighborhood where I grew up. Time heals all wounds.

I’m sure others were in the same boat. I know people from the neighborhood who have moved to Staten Island, New Jersey and Upstate New York. Pretty close to the city. It’a different though if you have moved across the country or down South.

I like where I am, I really do. It’s not crowded. There’s zero traffic. I can drive everywhere. I can walk and bike too.

No more crowded trains where someone next to you might get upset because they’re having a bad day.

It takes me just a few minutes to get to work.

Our schools are wonderful and most important, I have met some good people.

Tonight my friend on Facebook mentioned to me that she was jealous of where I lived. I’m sure she would like it out here.


October 26, 2014


Every Sunday morning I gotta get up early and attend nine o’clock mass over at Holy Name Church. It’s been the same routine for the past five or six years. Just so you know, I hung out late last night. I’m not in the mood to go to church.

Besides, I’m fourteen now, no longer am I a student at Holy Name. I go to John Jay down on seventh avenue; why do I still have to go to church?

“Get up or you’ll be late for church,” mom screams through our five-room, railroad apartment on Ninth Avenue and Windsor Place.

“I’m not goin’,” I shout from under my warm blanket.

“Get your ass up!” she shouts.

Damn she’s angry.

After a few more attempts to get me up, I finally give in. Her yelling is pissing me off.

It’s annoying to tell the truth.

“Get off my case!” I mumble.

Not too happy about this situation, I throw on the  jeans I wore last night, a blue-hooded sweatshirt and my white, Chuck Taylor Converse All-Stars. There’s a scuff mark on the side of my left sneaker. And some grass stains from hanging out in Prospect park last night.

“You can’t go to church lookin’ like that!” mom shouts at me right before I am walking out the door.

I give her a look, not a mean look, just a look like, ‘don’t tell me how to dress’.

“And take a shower,” she adds.

One reason I don’t like going to mass is because I never have any money for the collection box.

When they pass around the straw box attached to the long broom handle,  and it gets to me, I just look at the money in it.

“Sorry, I’m broke,” I say to myself.

Walking up ninth avenue, alongside the stores I see some of my friends walking with their families. They’re all dressed up, shiny black shoes and everything. Sometimes I wish I was in their shoes

As I get up by Smith’s, I look across the street and see a ton of people walking up the church steps.

I’m having second thoughts.

No way in the world mom will know I didn’t go.

She never asks me any questions afterwards.

When I was a student at Holy Name, if I skipped out on mass, the following morning I was called down to the office. They always knew if you weren’t there.

My decision has been made.

I’m not going.

Making a right turn on Prospect Avenue, walking past Regina Bakery, I can smell the bread they are baking, I walk down towards eighth avenue.

Hanging a right on eighth avenue, I walk towards Windsor Place hoping to see my girlfriend, she lives right off the corner of Windsor and eighth.

I glance over at the Bodega on the corner and there’s two guys outside sipping a can of beer which is covered by a brown paper bag. They’re passing it back and forth to each other.

They are arguing over something. It’s hard to tell though.

Standing on the corner, the sun is in my eyes. I look down Windsor Place and up at my girl’s window. There’s no one there. I have thoughts of walking over and ringing her bell. But I don’t think her parents like me very much.

I feel like a million dollars when I’m with her. She always has a smile on her pretty face. She’s tall, and most of all, she loves me.

Her family attends the ten o’clock mass.  If I happen to see them, maybe we can walk up Windsor Place together and I can go to church with them?

We started holding hands in public, so I wonder if her father would be mad if I took her hand while we walked?

I’m going to sit right here on this stoop on the corner until she comes out. It’s our favorite stoop actually; the owner of the house never complains when we sit here together at night.

October 24, 2014


Filed under: Walgreens — hoopscoach @ 3:59 pm

Walgreens officially open. (Image taken from




October 23, 2014


It’s a Wednesday night. Billy and Jimmy are hanging out in Farrell’s. Both guys just got off work. Billy’s an ironworker working on a building on Madison and forty-third over in midtown.  Jimmy’s a cop who works at the 7th Precinct in the lower east side. It’s a little after six.

“You see 30 for 30 last night on ESPN?” Jimmy asks Billy as he takes a sip from his glass of beer.

“Nah, it came on too late, I gotta get up at four in the mornin’,” Billy answers as he looks up at the TV which is showing highlights from game two of the World Series between the Kansas City Royals and San Francisco Giants.

“You missed a good one,” Jimmy muttered.

Billy takes a sip of his beer.

“They’ll show it again, ESPN is always showing those shows over and over,” Billy counters.

Farrell's Indoor Sign

Both men visit Farrell’s every night after work to get together, talk sports and talk about life.

“Knicks looked good last night,” Billy mentions as he gulps down the rest of his beer.

“Duffer, gimme another,” Billy shouts.

Duffer is behind the stick tonight, he’s been working at Farrell’s for over 30 years. He’s a local guy and it must be noted, one of the better guys in the neighborhood. He’s also a retired fireman.

“Not sure how the triangle offense is gonna work,” Jimmy added.

“Well, if Carmelo buys-in to the team philosophy, anything is possible” Billy offered. “Not to mention he has to play defense and stop being a ball hog.”

The Knicks have not won a championship in 41 years. They have a new coach, a new offense and Phil Jackson is back at thirty-third and seventh running the show.

“How’s your kid like her new school?” Jimmy asks.

“She’s coping, but she’s bummed that Ford closed.”

Bishop Ford closed it’s doors this past June forcing many families to look for another school.

“It’s a shame, Ford was the place you went after you graduated from Holy Name,” Jimmy says as Duffer places another glass of beer in front of him and pulls some money off the bar.

“Yeah, that sucks,” Billy says. “But it doesn’t matter to me, I went to Jay, and my daughter loves Saviour’s.”

Saint Saviour’s is an all-girls high school down on sixth street.  Many girls from the neighborhood go there.

The bar begins to fill up. Duffer is joined by another bartender, he’s new on the job, Duffer will be training him tonight.

“I miss the Knicks teams of the seventies,” Jimmy admitted.

“Yeah me too,” Billy agrees.

“They played the right way. Frazier, Bradley and Willis.” Jimmy added.

“Don’t forget their coach, Red Holzman,” Billy shouts. “HIT THE OPEN MAN and SEE THE BALL!”

Both men laugh and reach for their glasses and take a gulp of beer.

“Just like our coaches at Holy Name taught us,” Jimmy says as he lets out a burp.

“I miss the days of waking up on Saturday morning, running to the yard and playing three-on-three all day.” Billy says. “Kids don’t play in the yard anymore.”

Both men polish off another glass of beer.

“We’ll never see another team like the Knicks from nineteen seventy-three,” Jimmy says.

“No doubt about that,” says Billy. “And with that, I gotta get outta here Jimmy, my old lady wants to go down to Snooky’s and see some friends.”

Snooky’s is a bar-restaurant on seventh avenue.

“Don’t get into any fights with the seventh avenue boys,” Jimmy reminds his friend.

Billy grabs his money off the bar, throws a ten down and shouts, “YO DUFFER, GIMME A CONTAINER TO GO AND GIVE JIMMY A DRINK!”

Duffer heads to the stick, fills a container and swipes the ten off the bar.  Billy’s out the side door, headed down sixteenth street on his way home.

Jimmy looks up at the television. Glances at all the people in the bar and downs his glass of beer.

“Duffer, gimme a shot of Johnny Walker.”

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