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March 14, 2014     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, MARCH 14, 2014 i By Hi|le| Kutter PHILADELPHIA (JTA)-- Celeste Morello isn't Jewish or a sports fan, and has never attended a profes- sional basketball game. But a passion for history--par- ticularly Philadelphia his- tory--prompted her to seek recognition for the hoops pioneer Eddie Gottlieb. Morello succeeded last week when the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Com- mission approved her applica- tion for Gottlieb, a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, to be featured on an official state historical marker. The two-sided blue tablet with yellow lettering will be erected in Philadelphia, where Gottlieb lived most of his life and Morello now resides. Gottlieb, who immigrated as a boy from Kiev, Ukraine, was a founder, player and coach of oneof the most im- portant teams in basketball history: the South Phila- delphia Hebrew Association club known by its acronym, the Sphas. Through the 1940s, the nearly all-Jewish Sphas won 10 championships in three leagues, out of which the Na- Philly historian scores in bid to have NBA pioneer Eddie Gottlieb honored tional Basketball Association emerged in 1949 to become what today is a multibillion- dollar business. Post-Sphas, Gottlieb coached and owned the Philadelphia (now Golden State) Warriors from 1946 to 1962. For a quarter-century he chaired the NBA's Rules Committee, and for many years he plotted the league's schedule of games using pen and paper. Gottlieb died at 81 in 1979. By then he had been inducted into the Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., basketball's birthplace; the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in Netanya, Israel; and the Philadelphia Jewish Sports Hall of Fame. While a state historical marker Was placed last year at the North Broad Street site of the Broadwood Hotel, where the Sphas played many home games in its ballroom, Gottlieb will "now have his own marker," Morello said. Writing to the Pennsylva- nia Historical and Museum Commission last Sept. 26, the NBA's then-commissioner, David Stern, supported the initiative for the historical marker, calling Gottlieb "a leader and innovator in the early growth and development of professional basketball  the United States." Gottlieb's legacy, Stern wrote, includes signing such all-time great players as Wilt Chamberlain, Joe Fulks and Paul Arizin; overseeing the adoption of the 24-second shot clock; advising three NBA commissioners--"a testa- ment to his incomparable in- stitutional knowledge"--and the Rookie of the Year trophy that bears Gottlieb's name. "Few tnen have contributed more to basketball and, in particular, to the development of the NBA during its nascent years than Eddie Gottlieb," Stern wrote. The marker's possible sites, Morello said, include the corner of Broad Street and Snyder Avenue, outside South Philadelphia High School, where Gottlieb graduated in 1916; and 45th and Market streets, the site of the War- riors' Philadelphia Arena. Creating and installing th e cast-aluminum marker atop a steel pole costs an estimated $2,600, she said. Mike Bass, the NBA's execu- tive vice president for com- munications, said Thursday that the league will help underwrite the cost. Teen heroes: Philip Caine helps teens with broken hearts By Suzanne Kurtz Sioan (JTA)--One evening, dur- ing a retreat for his Diller Teen Fellowship, Philip Caine told his fellow teens a truth about himself. At the age of 17, he had already undergone two open- heart surgeries. To his sur- prise, another teen told him that she had needed heart surgery as well. Together they decided to launch "Youth with Heart," to serve as an educational, mentoring and support group for other teenagers with con- genital heart defects. Modeled after "Moms with Heart," an American Heart Association support group for families affected by childhood heart disease, the objective of his group, Caine said, is to provide a community specifi- cally for teens with the disease so that they can share their experiences with others in similar circumstances. Over the past year, he has spoken before thousands of volunteers at a Heart Walk in California, to multiple cardiologists and at a local youth activism showcase, all to raise awareness for "Youth with Heart" and reach out to potential participants. The group is currently working towards organizing monthly meetings and will launch its Facebook page next month, he said. For Caine, who had his first surgery to repair a hole between his heart chambers when he was just one month old and the second, nearly two years ago, to have a pul- monary valve replaced, the disease "opened my eyes to the world and gave me a greater appreciation for my life and FREE & OPEN TO THE PUBLIC Philip Caine Philip Caine co-founded Youth with Heart, a support group for teens with congeni- tal heart defects. the community around me." Now a senior at Kehillah Jewish High School in Palo Alto, Calif., he plans to at- tend either George Washing- ton University or Southern Methodist University to study sports management. He has played baseball, soc- cer and water polo but tennis and golf are his two passions these days, he said. "Sports have always been a part of my life. I just love watching, playing--even the business side behind it all." And at his recent check-up, the doctor told Caine, "Every- thing's running fine. I'm good as new or close enough." JTAspoke to Caine about his biggest influences, his advice for teens with congenital health issues and the movie he could watch over and over again. Who or what have been the biggest influences in your life? My sister; she's a senior at Smith College. She's someone I can look up to as a role model. Also my parents. They are so supportive and are always there for me, 100 percent. Can you share with us a meaningful Jewish experience that you've had? Going to Israel for the first time last summer. Just to be in Jerusalem, to see the culture and all the different sects of Judaism left me speechless the entire trip. What is your favorite Jew- ish food? That's a tough one. I do love challah, and with honey, it's delicious. If you could have lunch or coffee with anyone and tell him or her about your group, "Youth with Heart," who would it be? Shaun White. He has actu- ally had the same heart defect that I have, and he's an Olym- pian and an amazing athlete. That would be. an awesome conversation to have! What advice would you give to other teens with a congeni- tal health issue? Stay positive; positivity is key. Think on the brighter side because being negative has no benefits. Do you have a favorite movie? I'd have to go with "The Rookie." I always watch it when I'm home sick. I could watch it over and over. The Teen Heroes column is sponsored by the Helen Diller Family Foundation, which is dedicated to celebrat- ing and supporting teens repairing the world. To learn more about the foundation's $36,000 Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Awards, visit http://dil- lerteenawards.org. Please tell us about teens who deserve attention by sending an email to teens@jta.org. PAGE 11A courtesy NBA Photos Owner Eddie Gottlieb, left, celebrating the Philadelphia Warriors winning the 1955-56 NBA championship. The NBA is "pleased that [Gottlieb] is being recognized with an historical marker," Bass said, adding that "any time we can be involved with recognizing the great con- tributions to our game, we appreciate and welcome the opportunity." Harvey Pollack, director of statistical information for the Philadelphia 76ers and some- one who knew Gottlieb well from their Warriors' days, had approached the 76ers and the NBAto recommend honoring Gottlieb with the marker. The woman who made it happen, Morello, is a histo- rian who has written books and articles on organized crime. Of the approximately 40 historical markers Morello said her work has yielded, Gottlieb's will be the third Jewish-American (following Revol'utionary War patriot Haym Solomon and Rabbi Is- rael Goldstein) and the fifth in sports (the others are Connie Mack, Roy Campanella, Shibe Park and African-American baseball). "What it means to me is that [Gottlieb is] a Jewish- American who's getting this marker, and Jewish-Ameri- cans are underrepresented with historical markers in Philadelphia," said Morello, a Catholic "I believe in my heart that Jews who have achieved what Eddie Gottlieb did should be on historical markers. When you're talking about Gottlieb, you're talking about achievement. I'm happy he got it." Morello has traced her roots to 17th-century Sicily, and said her family research indicates that her ancestors were Jewish before being forced to convert during the Spanish Inquisition. "I'm not of the Jewish faith, but I'm of the Jewish blood- line," she said. As to more contemporary history, Morello sees histori- cal markers in her state, and generally, as bringing the valued past to anyone willing to gaze at them. "These markers are a form of public history," Morello said."It doesn't take anything to learn what these markers show." 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