Tribute by Charlie Hoffman 1955 (#12),
Rudy's JMHS teammate and longtime friend, before the audience at the JMHS Wall of Distinction Ceremony,
April 30, 2006:
I am honored to be standing here before my former classmates and other Madison alumni presenting one the nicest guys I ever met for the James Madison Wall of Fame.
One of the first things I remember about Rudy when we were kids was how much he changed almost over night. The first time I was aware of him I saw this a studious, scrawny, 6’1”, 15 year old, nerdy kid playing basketball in the gym with a shirt and tie. He was always an excellent student, but to us bummy jocks that was not cool.
I didn’t think much about it until the next time we met, which was after the summer at basketball practice. He had grown 4 or 5 inches in 2 or 3 months, and we were all wondering who this 6’ 5” stud was. I couldn’t believe how much he had changed almost over night.
When he took the court I knew he was good but I really didn’t know how good he was until the game that year against Tilden H.S. when he virtually crushed their 6’ 6” big star, Red Goldstein, who was all-City and later became an All-American at Louisville. Rudy as most of you remember became a five-time NBA all star player for the Los Angeles Lakers.
I’ll never forget how nervous we both were before that city championship game against Jamaica in Madison Square Garden fifty-one years ago. Jammy Moskowitz gave us a pre-game pep talk and we didn’t hear a word.
We saw each other from time to time after college. I remember meeting him just outside the locker room in Madison Square Garden. In those days they played double headers and he was going to dress for the second game with the Knicks and I was on my way to the court to warm up for the first game. That was the year I spent traveling with the Washington Generals playing against the Harlem Globetrotters. We met and hugged each other out there in front of our dressing room wishing each other good luck. By then he was 6’8” and I felt like a midget as a shrimpy 6’4”. My thoughts went back to the scrawny, 6’1”, 15 year old with the shirt and tie.
Rudy, to me, was a straight shooter. The type of guy I could always call my friend. He cared a lot about other people. He always kept contact with our coach, Jammy Moskowitz and always asked about the other guys on our team and how they were doing. I always got the feeling that if any of us needed help in any way, he would be there. We talked on the phone from time to time and met for dinner a couple of times, but I was always sorry we lived so far apart.
Rudy A. LaRusso
1937 - 2004
JMHS class of 1955
Above: Coach Jammy Moskowitz with the starting five of Madison's 1954-55 senior varsity basketball team: Mike Fluhr, Steve Matell, Rudy LaRusso, Charlie Hoffman, Mel Kessler.
Below: JMHS 1954-55 Basketball Team in LOG Yearbook,
photo by Arny Werner
This video is a posthumous tribute to Rudy LaRusso, made by his son Corey, from photos of Rudy's basketball and personal activities. Corey chose background music by Rudy's favorite singers, Neil Diamond and Frank Sinatra. When you view the video, you will see Rudy with famous sports and entertainment celebrities. Perhaps you'll agree, that beyond the fame and recognition, the greatest honor anyone can receive is the everlasting love and respect of one's children and family.
Thank you, Corey, and thank you, Rudy!
This is a QuickTime streaming video. Be patient while it downloads. To view the video in Windows Media Video format, click here.
Excerpts and links to internet sites about Rudy LaRusso. Click the blue headlines to view.
Rudolph Anton LaRusso
Career Highlights & Statistics:
A member of the New York City Basketball Hall of Fame, LaRusso led Dartmouth College to Ivy League championships in both 1958 and 1959, and then became a four-time NBA All-Star with the Lakers and Warriors in the 1960s.
Dartmouth legend Rudy LaRusso '59 honored Saturday
March 1, 2005
The College community honored the life of Rudy LaRusso '59 on Saturday in a warm ceremony during the halftime show of the Dartmouth-Yale basketball game.
As LaRusso's wife, siblings and other relatives stood at half court, the crowd packing Leede Arena rose to their feet and chanted, "Rudy! Rudy! Rudy!" in remembrance of LaRusso's achievements, both on and off the court.
Late Dartmouth Great To Be Honored
February 18, 2005
Family, friends and former teammates of Rudy LaRusso '59 will gather at Dartmouth College the weekend of February 25-26 to honor the late basketball great.
LaRusso, who continues to hold all Dartmouth rebounding records, will be saluted in a ceremony prior to the 7 pm tip-off of the Big Green-Yale men's basketball game on Saturday, February 26.
Rudy LaRusso as Guest Star
in Gilligan's Island Episode 97
Tribute by Steve Brown 1955 (#11),
Rudy's JMHS teammate and
longtime friend:
Rudy lived around the corner from me on East 17 street between avenue X and Y. The elementary school in our neighborhood, PS 254, was very small. Graduating 8th grade class was 80. (Steve Trachtenberg was also a graduate).
We were classmates and very good friends since the first grade as well as through Madison and beyond. Rudy was an honor student and a terrific artist.
Starting in the 6th grade we used to go to the schoolyard everyday after school and all summer to play basketball. Summertime, we played after dinner until 9:30 pm using the street light to illuminate the basket. We were about the same height. He was thinner so I would charge in for the rebounds while he developed the softest most accurate one handed shot from both left and right side of the basket.
When we tried out for the Madison team our freshman year we were both 6'. Then something happened. I stayed 6' but by the beginning of our sophomore year Rudy had shot up to 6' 7". Rudy was hard working and determined to be an excellent basketball player. He was a great individual performer as well as a team player. The rest is history.
We will all miss him.