Ivy Hoops Online announces the next entry in Ivy 60 for 60, our series running through 60 of the greatest players in Ivy League men’s basketball history after a hiatus to continue celebrating six decades of modern Ivy League basketball. An Ivy 60 for 60 for Ivy women’s basketball will follow.
Bill Bradley is without question the greatest Ivy League player ever. The 1965 Princeton graduate and New York Knicks star was rarely, if ever, held at bay.
But there is one exception. And that player played for Yale.
Rick Kaminsky, Yale ’64, had many great duels and battles with Bradley, both home and on the road. Kaminsky himself may be the greatest Eli hoopster of them all.
A Houston native, Kaminsky was one of five members of the class of 1964 who as sophomores in 1962 led Yale to an Ivy League championship and the NCAA Tournament. They lost in overtime, 92-82, in Philadelphia to a heavily favored Wake Forest team, led by All-American Len Chappell and star guard and future CBS commentator Billy Packer. Kaminsky led all scorers with 23 points, 10 rebounds and four assists before he picked up his fifth foul in overtime.
In a December game as a sophomore, Kaminsky held Holy Cross All-American Jack Foley, one of the greatest shooters in the history of college basketball in the eyes of no less of an expert than Bob Cousy, to a woeful 8-for-26 shooting from the field. Kaminsky put Yale ahead for good in that game at 72-71, with a basket and two free throws in the last 90 seconds. Yale won, 73-71.
Kaminsky was twice named All-Ivy and in his senior season was captain of the Elis and named All-American by the Helms Athletic Foundation. His final two college choices had been Yale and Princeton.
He led the Elis to a share of the Ivy title in 1963-64 as a junior, and Yale fell to the Bradley-led Princeton team in a playoff at Fordham. Bradley had 23 and Kaminsky 21 points.
He was drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers but did not play in the NBA and instead chose medical school. He ended up practicing medicine in Houston.
Kaminsky averaged 15.3 points per game as a sophomore, 19.7 as a junior, and 24.9 as a senior. He also averaged 8.3 rebounds per game over his career. At only 6-2, he was a tenacious rebounder, and many felt that he had the body and makings of a football player.
In the epic game against Wake Forest, Kaminsky had 23 points, 10 rebounds and four assists before fouling out of the contest.
In his junior season, Kaminsky led Yale to its lone victory over a Bradley-led Princeton team, 62-61, on the road at Dillon Gymnasium.
Kaminsky often rues the fact that Bradley came so very close to attending Yale after he vowed out of his commitment to Duke in August after his senior year in high school. The choice came down to Yale and Princeton and he chose Princeton.
With the addition of Bradley, Kaminsky-led Yale teams might have been a serious contender for a national championship.
“As I look back at the last 55+ years, I continue to feel I was very lucky to be able to play basketball at Yale and in the Ivy League,” Kaminsky noted. “I received a great education, made friendships for life, and played college basketball at the highest level of competition. At graduation, I was prepared for the next stage in my life. Over the years, when anyone has asked me where I went to college, there has always been a sense of pride when I answered with Yale.”
Kaminsky has had a number of occasions, since they both graduated, to speak with Bradley about their epic battles on the hardwood and stays in touch with many of his teammates.