Tom Konchalski, Dogged Basketball Scout, Dies at 74

Tom Konchalski, Dogged Basketball Scout, Dies at 74

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Konchalski left teaching to work full-time for Garfinkel in 1979; five years later he bought H.S.B.I. In 1980, Konchalski famously helped get Jordan — then known as Mike Jordan — into the Five-Star camp at the request of Roy Williams, an assistant coach at the University of North Carolina, which was recruiting Jordan (and which he would attend) and wanted to see him play against high-octane competition.

Not yet well-known, Jordan stunned the camp with his play.

“In tryouts when people were guarding him, they were guarding his belly button,” Konchalski recalled last year in an interview with Forbes magazine. “He had a great stop/ jump. He’d stop on a dime and really elevate. He was an extraterrestrial athlete.”

Konchalski — who was known for his detailed recall of games and players from decades earlier — was something of a Luddite. He did not own a computer, a cellphone or an answering machine. Working from his apartment in Forest Hills, Queens, he typed each of the 16 annual issues of his newsletter, stapled them and mailed them in manila envelopes to about 200 coaches, who subscribed for several hundred dollars a year. He did not post his publication online.

“I have an electric typewriter,” he told The Daily News of New York in 1990. “That’s my concession to the ages. I always say I was born seven centuries too late.”

He did not drive, so he commuted to and from games by train or bus, and was nicknamed the Glider for the way he quietly slipped into a gym, settled onto the top level of the stands and started taking notes on players on a legal pad.

In addition to his brother, he is survived by a sister, Judy Ball.

In 1976, Konchalski saw that Chris Sellitri, a 6-foot-5 forward at Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School in Brooklyn, had no scholarship offers from colleges in the United States.

“Today, a player who made All-Brooklyn would get a scholarship,” Steve Konchalski said. “But back then, some outstanding players fell through the cracks. So Tom directed me to Chris, and he became the leading rebounder in the history of our school.”

He added: “He wouldn’t tell a kid, ‘Go to my brother’s school,’ but he’d say to me, ‘This kid is still available — here’s his coach’s name and my evaluation.’”


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