Brooklyn Boro

Ronnie Nunn: One-time Brooklyn Tech B-Ball Star officiated 1,134 NBA games

January 22, 2021 Andy Furman, Special to the Brooklyn Eagle
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He admits he was a ”latecomer.”

And that’s quite the understatement for a kid who averaged 26 points-per-game as a senior All-City basketball player at Brooklyn Tech High School.

But it was officiating – not playing – that will be the legacy for the 71-year-old Ronnie Nunn.

He officiated 1,134 regular-season games in the NBA, 73 playoff games, and four NBA Finals.

“I was ready for the NBA, as a player,” he told the Brooklyn Eagle from his Danbury, Conn. home. “But sickness set me back.”

After Tech, he attended The George Washington University, and later was inducted into their Basketball Hall of Fame as well as being part of the school’s All-Century Team.

“I played two seasons of pro basketball for Leon of the Circuito National de basket Mexico and named by the Mexican press as he North American player of the decade during the ‘70s.”

And then it hit – hepatitis. “It set me back,” he said.

Yet two NBA camps took a chance – the New York Knicks and New Jersey Nets, and the ABA’s Denver Rockets showed an interest as well.

“I didn’t make the cuts,” he said, “but I did become a better player while in Mexico. That experience allowed me to grow my game.”

But the hepatitis returned – and he discovered blood in his urine.

The love of basketball remained – he became a Special Education Teacher and Administrator in Pleasantville, N.Y. and at the same time served as an assistant coach at Pace University, from 1978 until 1982.

He even served as a co-coach to his high school mentor Shelly Schneider.

With rest, his health improved – and it was back to the court. 

“I played in the New York Amateur League,” he said, “and Cecil Watkins – who ran the league – asked me about officiating.”

Four years later Ronnie Nunn started his 19-year career officiating in the NBA – bypassing high school and college ball.

“College officials,  as good as they may be,” Nunn was told by Watkins, “develop bad habits. He (Watkins) told me I had no bad habits.”

His first game was in Milwaukee. “I felt comfortable on the floor,” he said. “I remember Bob Lanier saying, ‘You OK, big fella,’”.

When he retired, he was appointed the NBA Supervisor of Officials.

Not bad for a kid who grew up in East New York – He was zoned to attend Franklin K. Lane High, but urged to attend Brooklyn Tech by his parents.

“The faculty at Tech drove me to stay focused,” he said.

Those Tech basketball teams had their ups and downs performing in then Brooklyn’s Suicide Division with Wingate, Jefferson, Boys High, Erasmus and Canarsie.

“Jefferson had Jimmy McMillian who went to Columbia and played with the Los Angeles Lakers,” he said. “Wingate had Utah State’s Marvin Roberts who also played in the NBA.”

Nunn remembers his senior season when George Westinghouse was added to the division. “They finished last – and had Larry McNeill who went on to play in the NBA.”

Why would Ronnie Nunn bang heads with Brooklyn’s best when he was an Honorable Mention baseball player at Tech?

“I loved baseball,” he said, “it was my favorite sport – but  baseball had no cheerleaders.”

 


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