By Mark Hallum
A former Cardozo High School basketball player will be returning to New York, not as a player, but as a coach.
Royal Ivey, formerly of the Atlanta Hawks and the Philadelphia 76ers, has moved from his assistant coaching position with the Oklahoma City Thunder to work with the New York Knicks.
According to Ron Naclerio, Cardozo’s hoops coach and Ivey’s former mentor, the Harlem-born and Hollis-raised assistant coach may be able to cultivate the best from Knicks players.
Naclerio remembers March 14, 1999 clearly, a day when Ivey was named the MVP of the City Championship game against John F. Kennedy High School.
“He was wearing royal blue and orange colors that day and now he’s going to be coaching royal blue and orange,” Naclerio said, comparing Cardozo’s colors to those of the Knicks. “He’s got some good young guards — one of which I know and I’ve coached, Emmanuel Mudiay — and right now they’ve not achieved the level they think they can achieve. I think Royal with his coaching and his psychological part of it can actually take these guys up another notch or so and have them reach their potential.”
Ivey led his Cardozo team to the Class A championship before transferring to Blair Academy in New Jersey and went on to play for the University of Texas in Austin.
Ivey played 11 seasons in the NBA before beginning his coaching career in 2014.
“It’s a dream come true. So many kids grow up dreaming of trying to play for the Knicks, but he might have topped it — he’s coaching them,” Naclerio said.
Naclerio is a local legend himself with his coaching sending many of his charges up the ranks to play college ball and beyond. In 2016 he became the all-time public-schools wins leader in New York state after Cardozo beat Springfield Gardens.
This put Naclerio at 755 victories in his decades-long career coaching at the Bayside school.
In February, Naclerio won his fourth NYC PSAL Basketball Championship
Ivey will work alongside Keith Smart and Pat Sullivan on newly appointed head coach David Fizdale’s coaching staff.
The 36-year-old has ties to Fizdale through their mutual time with the Hawks, when Fizdale was assistant coach.
The NBA season starts in October.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall