The 16th Annual National Pro-Am City Leagues Association Achievement Awards Benefit Luncheon was held on Monday, and the boys from Killeen’s Tavern were recognized alongside some of the finest coaches, refs, and league organizers from all five boroughs.
But it was their team that stole the show, as nine players and their coach took to the stage to accept special awards inside Madison Square Garden. The event was hosted by John Andariese, the radio voice of the New York Knicks.
The team consisted of high school and college basketball players who had aged beyond the school leagues but were still interested in playing. Based out of the small Irish bar, the Killeen’s Tavern Team achieved recognition not only for their abilities, but their willingness to play anywhere.
Described by team coach Dr. Louis Theodore as a “blue-collar, bargain basement team that dared to challenge the greats,” the gang from Killeen’s Tavern achieved notoriety for their basic but successful strategy on the courts.
According to Tom “Pitch” Piccininni, the team traveled all over New York City, playing in any league that would have them. “We played a lot of circuits,” he said.
The team attracted quite a bit of local talent, including several players who would go on to play basketball professionally. One of these future pros, Daniel Doyle, who would go on to play for the Detroit Pistons, is perhaps the most notorious member of the Killeen’s Tavern Team, and his bawdy acceptance speech at the awards banquet brought the house down with thunderous laughter.
The players on the Killeen’s Tavern team formed lifelong friendships that have extended into the Astoria community. The men hold annual get-togethers at which teammates and friends from the neighborhood gather to reminisce and share stories about the good old days and the good modern days.
“We’re more about being friends than we are a team,” said Theodore.
The Pro-Am National City Leagues Association runs basketball leagues for children, teens, and amateur adults. The awards recognize those who have made enormous contributions to the Pro-Am leagues and amateur ball itself.
“Our team has gotten a lot of awards in the past, but this is one of the biggest,” said Piccininni.