Back in the 1980′s when I was a teenager trying to find my way on and off the court, I would spend a lot of time playing pick-up basketball at East 5th street park in Brooklyn, New York. (home of Black Jack Ryan).

In the summer of ’81 I noticed an older gentleman at the park; he would show up on a regular basis, Monday through Friday at or around 6 pm.

Sitting on a wooden bench off to the side of the court, this man who looked to be in his late 50′s, would watch us play for two hours. He soon became a regular but not once did he ever say anything to anyone; he sat alone, arms folded observing us. He sensed when we were playing the last game of the night; guys were tired, running out of gas, and some guys not getting back on defense. Right before “point game” he would get up and walk out of the park.

One night after my team lost a game I walked over to him and struck up a conversation.

He asked me a few questions about where I played my high school basketball.

After that first encounter with Larry Pearlstein, we talked more and more. (I later found out he knew Red Holzman, Hubie Brown, Rick Pitino and an owner of the New Jersey Nets).

Larry’s nickname was ‘Scout’. I found out from Howard Garfinkle of 5-Star Basketball Camp they called him Scout because he was a bird-dog. I also found out Scout was involved in a point shaving scandal back in 1945.

This past Friday night while browsing through a basketball history book I was shocked to see his name pop up in a story involving point shaving. So I did what you do when you want to find out about someone; you Google them.

A few articles came up about his involvement in the scandal and a few articles on his friendship with Pitino.

Turns out that New York City police were keeping tabs on a guy named Henry Rosen, a garment thief. Pearlstein and a friend entered Rosen’s house and were confronted by the police; they thought the young men were ripping the place off. Turns out both guys were given $1,000 to split amongst 3 other players.

The Brooklyn College basketball players were supposed to shave points in an upcoming game against the University of Akron. But before the fix was in, the game was cancelled; the players admitted to taking money and were kicked out of school. But charges were never brought up on the players.

It was later revealed that Scout was never registered as a student in school but he managed to be a member of the basketball team!

Scout was kind enough to take me to a few New Jersey Nets games over at the Meadowlands. He always scored tickets, we had great seats. One game that sticks out in my mind is watching the Boston Celtics come to town; that night there was more Celtic fans in the stands than Nets fans.

Of all the time I spent with Scout, not once did he ever mention that he played basketball as a youngster.

One cold Friday night in February, a group of us went to Bishop Loughlin High School (home of Mark Jackson) to watch the Lions boys varsity basketball team. Loughlin had an intimidating shot-blocker in Andre Riddick. The 6’9″ string-bean reminded many people of Bill Russell in the way he rejected shots. Pitino was the head coach at Kentucky at the time and Riddick had committed to the Wildcats. During this particular game Riddick was struggling at both ends of the floor. Midway through the 3rd quarter my friend Jimmy asked Scout:

“Was Rick Pitino drinking when he signed Riddick?”

“I got news for ya, Rick doesn’t drink,” answered Scout.

Without hesitating and looking out on the court, Jimmy replied:

“Well, maybe he better start.”

I haven’t seen Scout in many years; I hear he is still living; he’s 87 years young.



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15 Responses to SCOUT

  1. jimmy vac says:

    The era that he played in , late 40’s early 50s, was hit with many point shaving scandal, with Kansas, Kentucky, LIU, CCNY, and NYU which were
    prominent teams back then. The college scandals helped the NBA become
    more accepted.. About the only guy in the NBA that got in trouble for point shaving was Jack Molinas, who ten years later, was behing the ealry 1960s point shavings. He did defend Connie Hawkins who was falsely accussed, by stating he only talked to him one or twice. You had to wonder about Molinas, who was a very good player and smart lawyer, who always took the ciminial approach until he was murdered…

    • hoopscoach says:

      Sherm White of LIU, one of the best players in college basketball at the time (1950-51) was thrown out of the college game.

      He was found guilty and did time in prison.

      Never had the chance to play in the NBA.

      What happened to Connie Hawkins is one of the worst tragedies in all of sports. All Hawkins did was borrow $200 from Molinas; at the time he was clueless about Molinas. The money was paid back a couple of months later.

      The NBA blacklisted him; it was a disgrace.

      The book, “Foul” covers Hawks’s career.

  2. Pat Fenton says:

    Great basketball piece, Steve. Great piece of writing.


  3. Glenn Thomas says:

    I remember that night! You, me, and Scout were in my car and we asked some kids where Loughlin was for we were a few blocks off and went off the beaten track a bit. These two were actually players for Loughlin that were in fact late for their game. We said jump in and we all went with them to the game. Those players were sophomores and were the starting backcourt for Loughlin and they went on to play big time hoops in college. Those two players were none other han Seldon Jefferson (West Virginia) and Sherwyn Anderson (Xavier OH). Funny story!

  4. jimmy vac says:

    I think the same thing happened to Roger Brown that happened to Hawkins…They were screwed over.. Was’nt Doug Moe also involved in one of the early 60 scandals?? Around the same time, Alex Karras and Paul Hornung were suspended for a year for gambling on games….

    • hoopscoach says:

      Roger, Doug and Tony Jackson all were banned. Jackson and Moe didn’t shave any points; they were banned for their association and not mentioning they were approached.

      Bob Cousy was friends with gamblers; was even told to stop hanging out with them; he refused and was still allowed to play.

  5. jimmy vac says:

    Cousy almost did not play pro ball. He was running a sucessful driving school. Auerbach had to come up with more bucks…

    • hoopscoach says:

      Tri-Cities drafted him first, Celtics passed on him. Boston did not want Cousy at first; Auerbach called him a “yokel”.

      It’s a great story.

      • David Cullen says:

        That is true, hoopscoach. In reading a brief bio, when Cousy, a product of local Holy Cross, was available, Auerbach’s attitude was that basketball was a game for “big men,” and he wasn’t going to pick Cousy because he was a “local yokel.” Eventually Cousy did play with Celtics and he was the MVP in 1957, and an integral part of the first 6 title teams in the Celtics 11 year championship run in a 13 year span. Looking at Cousy’s career stats, he went out on a good note. The Celts had won 6 titles in a 7 year span and Cousy finished 3rd in the league in assists/game, behind Oscar Robertson and Guy Rodgers. At 34, I guess he wanted to go out on a good note rather than just hang around. Nice post about the man watching the game.

  6. jimmyvac says:

    He played a few games after that while coaching Cincinatti . I think it was
    the 1969-1970 season. He was an impressive guy… Auerbach traded for him and Russell …

    • hoopscoach says:

      In the NBA Cousy coached 4 full seasons; never over .500

      5th season he was fired after going 6-16

      Much better success in college at BC.

  7. jimmyvac says:

    He did mentor Archibald who in 72-73 had one of the greatest individual seasons for a guard in 72-73.. 34 PPG and 11.4 APG..
    Next time you’re in town check out Giovanni’s … (8th & Prospect).. Great food and service,, had dinner with family and Red Slavin.. great day…

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