Brooklyn Boro

It’s storytime with a Brooklyn touch in South Florida

June 7, 2021 Andy Furman
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Their playing days are behind them. Years behind them.

Yet the stories and successes seem to grow larger every time they meet.

And they share those tales weekly at breakfast every Tuesday in South Florida.

The informal group is known as the South Florida Basketball Fraternity.

“We’re just a bunch of guys with New York City backgrounds who played high school and college basketball,” said 76-year-old Jay Siegel, who served as basketball team manager at Brooklyn’s Tilden High School from 1960-62.

Well, that’s partially true.

Yes – two New Yorkers – make that Brooklynites — started the fraternity some 40 years ago.

Rip Goldman, who was considered the “Father of Thomas Jefferson High School Football” and Red Sarachek, the famed basketball coach at Yeshiva University who owned Circle Sporting Goods on Flatbush Avenue, were the pillars of strength for the group.

As for Goldman, he re-established the Jefferson football program as head coach in 1946-59 and was baseball coach from 1946-76.

But the informal leader – and the man who has taken the reigns of the group isn’t from New York City, and didn’t play college basketball.

Stan Diamond, who moved to South Florida some 21 years ago, is a native of Baltimore.

“I owned and operated three nursing homes,” the soon-to-be 85-year-old Diamond told the Eagle from his Florida home the other day, “and I didn’t know anyone at all before I moved to Florida.”

Then he met Sarachek.

“I heard about these weekly breakfasts,” Diamond said, “in fact at 62, I was the youngest guy in the group at the time.  Red pulled me over and said, ‘I’m sick, I want you to keep this going.’”

Stan Diamond has nurtured the group like a gardener cares for his lawn – and he’s seen it grow.

“We have about 110 men who all have a relationship to basketball right here in South Florida,” Diamond said, “and we have an annual luncheon every year honoring an NBA Hall of Famer.”

Luncheon – its more like a banquet that is a who’s who of basketball.

In years past the group has honored Billy Cunningham (Erasmus Hall), Lenny Wilkens (Boys High), Dave Bing and Bernard King (Fort Hamilton High).

So, what is the initiation for this so-called fraternity?

“We have no by-laws, we have no dues, anyone can come anytime,” Diamond said. In fact, The South Florida Basketball Fraternity name has never been officially incorporated, according to Siegel.

Some 25 to 50 basketball “junkies” meet Tuesday mornings at Poppies Restaurant in Delray Beach – that number dipped during Covid, reminds Diamond.

The group moved to Poppies after they outgrew Shelby’s in Deerfield Beach – the place where it all started.

But the most important date for the group is always in early December. That’s the annual luncheon – and this year it’s planned for the 7th at Boca West.

“We’re looking for a guest as well as a commitment for the luncheon,” Diamond said.

In the meantime, it’s pass the rolls, pour the coffee and keep talking at Poppies.

Andy Furman is a Fox Sports Radio national talk show host. Previously, he was a scholastic sports columnist for the Brooklyn Eagle. He may be reached at: [email protected]. Twitter: @AndyFurmanFSR.

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  1. Lloyd

    Thank you Andy. Wonderfully written article summarizing what we’re about. In my almost ten years or so of attending both breakfasts and the annual luncheons, I’ve seen some wonderful guys pass on who contributed both to the world of basketball and to society in general. Lloyd Reife