The Butler Did It: A hoops icon on Bell Blvd.

By Dylan Butler

“My wife Jane is my strength,” Turetzky said. “It's basketball and Jane.”Not necessarily in that order. The longtime Bayside resident has forged a professional basketball career that has spanned 41 years, all as the official scorer of the New Jersey Nets, where he has worked more than 1,000 consecutive games.It started innocently enough in Brownsville, where Turetzky was the self-professed king of punchball, a sport, much like stoopball, that lived and died on the streets of New York. When the Brownsville Boys Club opened in 1955, a few friends invited Turetzky down to play basketball. Sure, he said, as long as he can teach them punchball. “I was terrible,” he said, “but I loved it so much that I never taught my friends punchball.”Turetzky, 62, went to Thomas Jefferson High and was friends with Harvey Jackson, who was part of the basketball family of Brooklyn, before the Kings and the Marburys. Harvey's oldest brother, Tony, was a neighborhood legend, once scoring 54 points in a game against New Utrecht. Tony Jackson would go on to play at St. John's University, just like Danny Mascia, who was Turetzky's best friend and who played on Joe Lapchick's final team in 1966. “I went to LIU, but I spent all my time at St. John's,” Turetzky said. In 1966, Mascia played for an AAU team owned by Arthur Brown and coached by Max Zaslofsky, another neighborhood legend and early NBA scoring champion. Turetzky was the scorer for some of their games and a year later, when the American Basketball Association was formed, Brown owned the New Jersey Americans, coached by Zaslofsky. The team needed an official scorer and they sought out Turetzky. “They paid you a few bucks and gave you as many tickets as you wanted,” Turetzky said. “Forty-one years later, I'm still doing it.”The first game was against the Pittsburgh Pipers, led by the great Connie Hawkins, while the Americans featured Tony Jackson. It was played at the old Teaneck Armory, the team's first home. From there the team moved to Commack (L.I.) Arena and it was en route to a game there on Nov. 3, 1968 that Turetzky was in a near-fatal accident that resulted in neuromuscular damage to both legs, a condition that now requires use of a cane to walk. Turetzky, who owns Crown Trophy, a small storefront on Bell Blvd., said his favorite times were when Julius Erving played for the Nets from 1973-76. The two forged a friendship that continues to this day. When Turetzky was inducted into the New York City Basketball Hall of Fame, it was Erving who was there by his side. When Turetzky was honored by the Nets for his 1,000th consecutive game Jan. 11 at the Izod Center, Dr. J recorded a message that played on the video board. Turetzky missed a game on Dec. 12, 1973 because of the birth of his daughter, Jennifer. He missed another three playoff games at the end of the 1983-84 season because he was coaching a pro-am team that featured Al Skinner in France. But he was back for a second-round playoff series against Milwaukee and hasn't missed a game since May 3, 1984. When the season ends for the Nets Tuesday, it will be 1,020 consecutive games. “They treat me like a king at the Izod Center,” he said. “No one who works there doesn't know Herb.”The Nets hope to soon play in a multimillion dollar arena in downtown Brooklyn, which would be ironic for Turetzky. “If the Brooklyn thing pans out,” he said, “it would make it a tremendous completion of a circle for me.”Reach Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at dbutler@TimesLedger.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 143.

More from Around New York