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YouTube Gold: Satch Sanders

A vastly under appreciated player from Boston’s glory years

Boston Celtics Satch Sanders
BALTIMORE, MD - FEBRUARY 5: Tom Sanders goes for a lay up during a game against the Baltimore Bullets at the Baltimore Civic Center in Baltimore, Md., Feb. 5, 1966.
Photo by Dan Goshtigian/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

When Michael Savarino chose to transfer from Duke most people probably didn’t expect him to pick NYU.

NYU? Is that a basketball school? It’s D-III, right?

Well it is now but once upon a time it was not just D-1 but a dominant program.

NYU, along with CCNY and others, were part of the Metropolitan New York Basketball Conference.

Unfortunately, in 1945 and 1951, point shaving scandals greatly damaged college basketball in the city. In 1960, NYU made the Final Four but in 1961, another scandal was devastating to not just New York basketball but reached all the way down to the ACC, affecting UNC and NC State. And ultimately both NYU and CCNY basketball did not survive.

The leader of that 1960 team was Tom “Satch” Sanders, and he went on to a brilliant if now overshadowed NBA career, winning eight titles with the Boston Celtics.

At 6-6, the long-armed Sanders was a perfect defensive compliment to Bill Russell and KC Jones. He was never fully appreciated except by his coach, Red Auerbach, who saw him as a critical part of Boston’s dynasty, and his teammates, who knew just how good he was.

He was also a significant part of the NBA as he helped to start the Rookie Transition Program, which sought to help young players adapt to the league and to manage their money.

He was also the first Black coach in any Ivy League sport when he coached at Harvard in the mid 1970’s.