Every great coach has a story comprised of the many emotional, groundbreaking, meaningful and disappointing moments that comprise a career. Those moments should be documented and shared with the world.
For every Phi Jackson that supposedly influenced basketball culture through his associations with Kobe and Shaq and MJ, there is a high school or college coach who has reached Phil Jackson status, but doesn’t get the immediate recognition considering the size of the stage.
Finally, the world will get to know Ron Naclerio, one of New York City’s hidden coaching gems, a guy who sculpted, shaped and sparked the mixtape streetball revolution. As his legacy begins to really take shape, he continues to leave other high school coaches in the dust.
The story of Naclerio and his march towards “b-ball immortality,” will be featured on USA TV’s premiere of Naclerio 723 airing on January 27th at 10pm ET on SNY and again on Saturday Jan. 28th at 12 noon, and Monday the 30th at 12:30 pm.
This morning, I spoke to the only white guy who can walk through the projects of Southside Jamaica, Queens at 3am -(and reprimand a kid about missing school or cutting up) about the launch of the highly-anticipated film.
“I am stunned as to how much notoriety I have been getting and how wherever I go I am constantly being recognized. Feels a little weird but good.." Naclerio told The Shadow League. "If you look back at my career I am most proud of making Cardozo a nationally known basketball power after being 1-21 my first year and all the kids lives that I helped and that are now living productive lives.”
Some coaches build winners. Some coaches build men who become winners. Some coaches are so deeply entrenched in the history of a basketball movement that it’s hard to categorize and assess their greatness. The modesty in which they attack their task in comparison to the larger scope of the world, doesn't garner them the same elite stature. However, they are often the rag that rubs the stone and makes it shine for a lifetime.
Ron Naclerio is one of those unsung, high school basketball culture-influencers. A steady tornado who has knocked down more barriers, racial inequity and tough opposition than any public school coach in NY history. He already had an outstanding pedigree as the son of a NY doctor who once saved the life of Dr. Martin Luther King.
This has been a watershed year for Naclerio, AKA “White Shadow.”
The Cardozo High School boys basketball coach made history on December 22nd by breaking the state public school record for victories. The 79-76 thriller over Springfield Gardens HS was the 755th win of Naclerio's incomparable 36-year career, surpassing late East Hampton High School coach Ed Petrie's long standing record.
Just last year, Naclerio broke the city public school record with his 723rd win, passing Campus Magnet legend Chuck Granby. In Naclerio 36-year career, he has two city championships (1999 and 2014) and coached about 100 future Division I college ballers and five NBA hoopsters.
The Shadow League did a Two-Part Series on Naclerio's massive basketball influence back in December of 2015 shortly after he eclipsed the New York City PSAL record of 722 coaching victories set by the retired Charles Granby, who coached at Campus Magnet (formally Andrew Jackson) for 45 years.
That was the culmination of decades of daily, non-stop grinding. Once Naclerio assumed the helm at the Bayside, Queens public school, there was no stopping the meteoric rise of the basketball program and the stories which are now legendary concerning Naclerio's eccentricity, audacity and genuine concern for his players over the years.
For a man that has selflessly dedicated himself to others for most of his life, this moment is all about Naclerio.
“People tell me that the first thing you think about when you hear Cardozo is Naclerio,” he admitted to The Shadow League on Friday.
True story. He turned an academically elite public high school into a basketball palace and now it's emerging as a force in all of the major sports. Give that man his props.