Sad news about Howard Garfinkel passing away today. He was 86.  There’s thousands of stories about “Garf,” co-founder of the Five-Star Basketball Camp. Here’s one.

I am in Columbus, Ohio.  It’s the late 90’s, spring time.  I know this because it was warm but I still carried a light jacket with me.  I had been living in East Lansing, Michigan for two, maybe three years.  The drive from East Lansing to Columbus wasn’t too bad.

Jerry Watson was putting on an AAU event.  Paul Biancardi was an assistant coach at Ohio State. Jim O’Brien was the head coach.  Paul and Jim are good guys.

On the second day of the tournament, Saturday afternoon to be exact, Garf and I are sitting in a half-empty gym watching a game.  We’re sitting in the front row of the bleachers at half-court.


The action is going up and down. Two solid teams. Caron Butler might have been on one team.  Garf and I are talking about each kid. Usual comments you hear when adults watch ball.

Good passer.”

“Great shooter.”


All of a sudden, the official standing on the court working the game, just inches away from us blows his whistle.  I found this odd because the kid with the ball was dribbling the ball at the top of the key running a play. (Half-court set about to be executed).

“YO, THERE’S NO SMOKING IN HERE,” the official said.

He was looking at me and Garf.

I was like, “I’m not smoking!”

I quickly glance to my right at Garf and he’s taking a drag from a cigarette.


Garf didn’t respond. He just took a long drag like it was his last.

“Yo, mister, you gotta go outside and smoke that!” the official said.

Garf looked at the perturbed man, took another drag and calmly pulled the cigarette from his mouth, placed it under his shoe and put it out.



Still, Garf didn’t say a word. I was expecting him to say sorry or something like that.

Instead he sat there, looking out to the court at the players with the look on his face like, “Okay, put the ball in play.”


Women’s basketball at Wisconsin:

You gotta get your butt in the gym. Steph Curry shows you that. I saw him in high school. He looked like a 2-year-old out there — but the boy could shoot. And so what’d he do? He kept shooting. So, if people they’re going to get on the pillowcase, it’s not going to happen. You can’t nap your way to being a great shooter, and Facebooking it, and all these things teenagers do. You need to put the phone down, stop Face-timing, stop tweeting, and get your butt in the gym.

And it don’t have to be an hour, two hours. Twenty minutes every day — that’s what (Bauman) does, and ten minutes after practice every day. That’s it. There’s no magic formula. There’s no secret potion you rub on your hands. Get your butt in the gym and practice. Period. End of story. And you can shoot like that, too.


Women’s basketball, can you hear me? Get your butt in the gym. You’ve got people throwing the ball over the basket. Nobody wants to watch that. I don’t. I enjoy watching good solid basketball if people make their shots, whether I’m coaching against them or it’s my team doing it.


Women’s basketball players need to get their butt in the gym and get shots up because we can’t dunk. Brittney Griner’s graduated. I don’t see nobody else dunking out here. Candace Parker? She was gone a long time ago. People need to get in the gym — that’s where our game needs to grow. We need to be shooting the ball and making it, and then people will come out and watch us play.