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Cardozo coach proves age is just a number

By Joseph Staszewski

Ron Naclerio still has game and there is a video to prove it.

The legendary Benjamin Cardozo boys’ basketball coach was one of eight players well past their primes who took on a team of players half their age in a new Centrum vitamin Web video titled “These old guys still got game?”

The 55-year-old Naclerio was asked to be a part of it by Greenpoint Films producer Michael Kuhn. He played alongside streetball legends like Jack “Black Jack” Ryan, Anthony “Half Man, Half Amazing” Heyward and Malloy “The Future” Nesmith in pickup games to 21 points at Manhattan’s Goat Park, one of streetball’s most revered playgrounds. His squad did not lose a contest.

“You get back out there and you try to do the things you were accustomed to when you were younger,” Naclerio said. “I was as fast as anybody. I can’t go by guys, but I’m still faking right and going left.”

The nearly four-minute-long video has become an Internet sensation. It had more than 730,000 views as of last weekend and is still climbing. Naclerio and all those involved are hoping more comes of it, such as a television commercial or even a reality series. Guys their age have left comments on the video saying how it has inspired them to get back in shape and NBA analyst Jalen Rose jokingly tweeted that NBA executives should give these guys a look.

“I don’t know when it is going to end, but it might get a million hits,” Naclerio said.

The eccentric Judges coach, who won PSAL city championships in 1999 and 2014, recently began his own personal quest for better health. Naclerio had reached 205 pounds in October and was told by his cardiologist he needed to exercise more.

Naclerio, never one to do anything halfway, began running 3.2 miles daily and taking a long series of sprints up and down basketball courts. He is down to 176 pounds. It got him physically ready to take on younger players.

“He knows the game of basketball,” Ryan said. “He definitely was in shape. There were a couple of guys huffing and puffing and he wasn’t one of them. He played great.”

Naclerio, played the games June 11 with a dislocated finger, but that didn’t stop him from making an impact. The video, which shows the fourth game, has Naclerio throwing a behind the back pass to Heyward for a hoop.

He made sure to get the hot shooting Ryan the ball and was also pushed to the floor while setting a screen on streetball great Cory “Homicide” Williams. Naclerio’s current players got a kick out of watching their coach show his stuff on the court.

“Seeing coach play was a little humorous and it showed me he’s still got a little something left in him,” Judges star guard Rashond Salnave said.

The experience was one Naclerio thoroughly enjoyed and hopes to do again. It brought back plenty of old memories and stories and created new ones.

“It was a lot of fun,” Naclerio said. “The guys that I played with were guys I know and respect for so long and I played with when I was young.”

They aren’t too bad now, either.

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