New York might still cling to its reputation as the Mecca of basketball, even though James Dolan has done his damnedest to ruin the Knicks and the glory days of St. John's hoops are but a distant memory. Some of those memories were rekindled earlier this week when native son--one of Brooklyn's finest--Chris Mullin accepted the head coaching job at his alma mater. It was a nice distraction in Gotham as the rest of the NCAA world prepares for the Final Four on Saturday night. The beauty part was that Mullin's old coach, 90-year-old Lou Carnesecca, was by his side at the introductory press conference.
Carnesecca, one of the last remaining coaching giants of his generation, hasn't looked this good in a decade. And while dreams of the Johnnies returning to the big stage and the Final Four are premature, you can forgive the locals their fantasies. In the meantime, we've got an excuse to talk about Carnesecca, a Damon Runyon character come to life. As Tony Kornheiser's 1975 piece for the Street & Smith Basketball Annual demonstrates, he's one of a kind. Originally titled, “Little Looie,” it is reprinted here with the author's permission. Dig in, I think it'll make you smile.