NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Tuesday, December 1, 2015, 7:26 PM
Now it’s official – Ron Naclerio can celebrate.
The longtime Cardozo HS boys basketball coach officially became the winningest coaching in PSAL history on Tuesday night when his Judges beat Francis Lewis, 88-72, in their second game of the season. The win was the 723rd in Naclerio’s career, putting him atop the PSAL’s all-time list, one ahead of Chuck Granby, who won 722 games in 45 seasons at Campus Magnet. Naclerio has just started his 35th year at Cardozo.
Naclerio didn’t wait to actually reach the milestone before sending out invitations to his post-game celebration. Last week he invited friends, family and former players to a party that was scheduled for Tuesday night at a restaurant in Queens. He later apologized to Francis Lewis, saying he had to make sure he took care of logistics since so many people were involved, some coming from far-away places to celebrate his big win.
Naclerio took over at Cardozo in time for the 1981-82 season, going 1-21. But he has since won two city titles – in 1999 and 2014 – and has become one of the most respected coaches in the city, in any sport. He’s also known for his sideline antics, flailing his arms and legs as he works officials for calls and barks orders to his players.
It’s that passion that has helped him reach the pinnacle of the sport in a city known for basketball.
“I never did it for the money; I did it for the love,” Naclerio told the Daily News last week. “I know a lot of guys who’ve made a lot of money off this game, but at the end of the day money doesn’t mean anything. You need it to live, of course, but in the end it’s about the love.”
Naclerio has coached four players at Cardozo who have gone on to play in the NBA and numerous others in summer leagues and camps who have become pros, including Jason Kidd, Ron Artest, Joakim Noah and Emmanuel Mudiay, who all appear in an upcoming documentary about Naclerio.
In a trailer for the film, Mudiay, picked 7th overall by the Denver Nuggest in the previous NBA draft, calls Nacerlio, “One of the best coaches, one of the best guys I’ve ever met in my life.”