Brooklyn coach David ‘Ditto’ Tawil’s memoir is a love story about basketball
Ditto. To basketball fanatics in and around Brooklyn the name is familiar.
To others, he’s David “Ditto” Tawil – not your normal basketball junkie, but a true lover of the game.
“Basketball,” he told the Eagle, “is an emotional thing for me. At the age of 12 I found myself with a basketball at Seth Low Park and fell in love with the discipline of the game.”
As for the nickname – glad you asked.
“I got the name ‘Ditto’ from fist fighting as a kid,” he said. “I didn’t hit them once, I hit them twice. So, it has been a long running battle for me. But now I can keep that kid in check. I know better. I know myself better.”
And he knows the game of basketball better than most.
Tawil came from a poor Brooklyn family – but from a rich community, he’s quick to remind.
“We never locked our doors at night,” he said, “the neighborhood raised us. All adults were our parents.”
He says his first real coaching job was when he served as captain of Lafayette High’s basketball team (1960). “I learned the motion offense playing at the Jewish Community House of Bensonhurst [JCH].”
His play earned him a scholarship at Wilkes College in Pennsylvania, and he later earned his degree at Brooklyn’s LIU.
It was the famed Howie Jones – then coach of Brooklyn’s powerhouse Boys High – who gave Tawil the opportunity to coach kids in the Boro Games.
“It was,” he said, “an opportunity to deal and inspire kids.”
By the way, his Boro team won the tournament.
Then, it was back to Lafayette serving as jayvee coach and assistant to Gil Fershtman. In 10 years, Tawil amassed a 91-7 record coaching the jayvee team.
“Over the years, I’ve learned how to organize, motivate, instruct and safeguard players,” he said.
And you thought he was finished – the love has grown.
Ditto, at 78, has Saturday morning pickup games at his alma mater, Lafayette High.
Joining him are some of the greats that wore those Frenchie jerseys, including Fershtman, who played in those pickups until he moved to Florida.
He was 75 at the time.
But playing at 78 is a bit different than those days at Seth Low Park – so Ditto has written a memoir, “Hoop Dance: The Game of Life A Handbook.” It can be found here.
It’s a handbook for the weekend basketball warrior.
“As far as I know there is no other such guide,” he said.
Call it The 10 Commandments for safe basketball “runs,” as he calls them.
“The basketball community needs these rules to be spread nationally to get rid of injuries and I can explain it passionately,” he said.
So much so that he invites callers (917-796-6951) and emailers ([email protected]) to contact him for the basketball rules.
“I’ve had the privilege to spend my life working in the game I adore,” he said. “Throughout my career I’ve coached players from all backgrounds and walks of life.”
He claims, whether you’re a kid from Brooklyn or a big-time Hollywood producer – the late Gary Goldberg, of Brooklyn Bridge fame, played at Lafayette and joined in the run – these rules will make your game safer and more rewarding.
Andy Furman is a Fox Sports Radio national talk show host; previously, he was a scholastic sports columnist for the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.
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