Fifty years ago this month, Herb Turetzky, a 21-year-old senior at Long Island University, headed to the Teaneck Armory from Brooklyn to watch a game between the New Jersey Americans and Pittsburgh Pipers of the brand-new American Basketball Association.
Turetzky went as a spectator, but the general manager and coach of the Americans, Max Zaslofsky, an acquaintance from Brooklyn, asked him to be the official scorer.
Yogi Berra tossed up the ceremonial opening tap, and the Pipers went on to beat the Americans before 3,089 people at the Armory, which had been dressed up for the team’s first season with a new floor, clock and lights that “brightened the usually dreary drill shed,” as the New York Times reported.
The Americans played one season at the Armory, finishing with a 36-42 record, tied with the Kentucky Colonels. They had a shot at the post-season, but forfeited their playoff game for lack of a suitable venue. (The Armory was booked for a circus performance.) The following year, the Americans moved to Long Island and were rechristened the New York Nets, then the New Jersey Nets, from 1977 to 2012. They are now the Brooklyn Nets of the National Basketball Association.
And Turetzky? The former school teacher, who now lives in Queens, is entering his 51st season as the team’s official scorer. By his count, Turetzky has scored 2,090 of the team’s home games—including the last 1,395 in a row—but his five-decade association with the Nets might not have gotten started had he not ventured to Teaneck to watch a game the night of October 23, 1967.
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