By Sabina Mollot
Longtime Stuyvesant Town resident John “Butch” Purcell, known to many of his neighbors as the mayor of Stuyvesant Town, was honored last weekend by the Brooklyn USA Athletic Association for his career coaching basketball players.
On Sunday, he was inducted into the group’s now 37-year-old Basketball Hall of Fame at a ceremony held in Brooklyn’s El Caribe Country Club.
A number of National Basketball Association players have also been honored, which, said Purcell, is “why it’s a great honor to be inducted.”
Purcell, now 72 and retired, coached athletes from 1972-1992 at Harlem’s Rucker Park tournaments as well as for the New York Pro Basketball League. During those 20 years, he estimated he’s coached over 75 NBA players, including Julius “Dr. J” Erving. A big part of his job involved training the summer league, “keeping players in shape, keeping them in tournaments, keeping them ready for fall,” Purcell said.
Other players he coached included Charlie Scott, Billy Paultz and Kenny Charles.