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Herb Turetzky — now never to be forgotten

June 12, 2023 Andy Furman
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Herb Turetzky was a lucky man.

Not only did he get to  see every Nets’ basketball game for some 54 years – he had a wealth of tremendous friends.

Turetzky, a 1963 grad of Brooklyn’s Thomas Jefferson High School, was the official scorer for the Nets since their inception in New Jersey as the Americans.

He passed a year-ago April at the age of 76 – the cause was primary lateral sclerosis, which causes nerve cells in the brain that control movement to fail. In fact, in his last several years as Nets’ scorer, he attended games in a wheelchair.

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But it was the friendships he made while a student at Thomas Jefferson High School, that will keep the Herb Turetzky name alive for years.

“I went to see Herb about three weeks before he passed,” friend and Thomas Jefferson classmate Ira Cohen told the Brooklyn Eagle. “He told me, ‘I just don’t want to be forgotten.’”

He won’t – thanks to Cohen, Larry Tischler and Harvey Jackson.

“We could not think of a better way for us to keep his memory alive than by creating the Herb Turetzky Scholarship Fund in partnership with Medgar Evers College, part of the City University of New York,” Cohen said.

But why Medgar Evers?

“Herb had a passion working with young people,” Dr. Kimberly Whitehead, Senior Vice-President for Strategy and Chief of Staff, Medgar Evers College, told the Eagle. “With permission of the Turetzky family,” she said, “Both Ira Cohen and Harvey Jackson approached us. And we thought it was a wonderful program.”

Cohen says the scholarship idea was on-going for some nine months. “In fact,” he added, “It was Harvey (Jackson) who walked over to Medgar Evers and met with Dr. Whitehead.”

The Herb Turetzky Scholarship Fund will commence in the Fall of 2024, according to Dr. Whitehead. 

The scholarship will be awarded annually to a deserving incoming freshman who exemplifies the qualities and characteristics Herb exuded.

“Herb was just a good person, well meaning, and he taught me a lot,” Cohen said.

The award-winner will be a resident of Brownsville or East New York, noted Dr. Whitehead; must be a graduate of a New York City high school – public, private or charter – and must be engaged in community service.

“It’s not all about academics,” Cohen added. 

On a 4.0 grade-point-average-scale, the scholarship winner must maintain at least  a 2.5 GPA, and be fully-enrolled in college to receive the $2,000 award.

The scholarship will be made possible through donations.

Fifty-four years watching the Nets play basketball – from the Teaneck, N.J. Armory, to Commack, Long Island and finally Brooklyn — is a long time.

And his association with the Nets, was, purely accidental.

In 1967, Turetzky took his future bride – Jane Jacobs – to the Teaneck Armory in New Jersey to see the first game in the team’s history. 

The New Jersey Americans were playing host to the Pittsburgh Pipers – in fact Harvey Jackson’s brother – Tony – was a member of the Americans.

As an aside, Cohen says Harvey was the better Jackson, although it was Tony who played at Thomas Jefferson and later for Joe Lapchick at St. John’s University (1958-61) did score 53 points – including 12 three-point baskets – while playing for the Chicago Majors of the ABL on March 14, 1962.

But before tip-off of this inaugural contest, Max Zaslofsky, the Americans’ coach and general manager, noticed that the scorer’s table was empty and spotted Turetzky – he knew him  from AAU games they both attended.

“Max, I’d love to,” Turetzky recalled saying, as quoted in a Sports Illustrated profile last year. “I’m here, so why not? He added: “I’ve never left that seat since.”

Between 1984 and 2018, he scored 1,465 consecutive games.

In 2020 when all those games totaled 2,206, Guinness World Records certified them as the most by an official scorer in NBA history.

Turetzky was inducted into the New York City Basketball Hall of Fame in 2004.

After graduating LIU in 1968, Turetzky was a teacher and then a principal at an elementary school in Brooklyn. He later worked as a grant writer for the New York City Board of Education and owned a trophy business.

And during all this Herb Turetzky was traveling to – and keeping score – at Nets’ home games.

His friends have not forgotten.

Donations to the Herb Turetzky Scholarship Fund may be made by check or money order, payable to: Medgar Evers College Educational Foundation, and on the memo line input “Herb Turetzky Scholarship. Send check or money order to: Medgar Evers College, 1150 Carroll Street, suite 400, Brooklyn, New York 11225, Attention: Sharon Bartel. Visit www.MEC.CUNY.EDU and select Donate to MEC – found at the top of the homepage.

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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