Farewell to Artie Heyman
The scariest thing I ever saw on a basketball court was the maniacal grin of Art Heyman, 10 feet above the floor, as he wielded a pair of scissors.
He was cutting his segment of the net after Oceanside High won the 1959 Nassau County tournament; I stopped taking notes to make sure he got down off the ladder without inadvertently doing harm to anybody, in his zeal.
Life was always an adventure with Heyman, during a game or during conversation. You never knew wherethings were going.
Artie died two weeks ago at the age of 71 in Florida. He would come and go in life, as he did in his mercurial pro basketball career, which consisted of six seasons, two leagues, and eight hitches with seven different teams, plus a few paper transactions with teams that decided they could not use him.
He had so much talent coming along as a big-beamed 6-foot, 5-inch star at Oceanside and Duke that it was reasonable to envision him as the next big thing to Oscar Robertson. In fact, the award he won as the best college player of 1962-63 is now called the Oscar Robertson Trophy.
Heyman must have had Robertson on the brain. When he was at Duke he used to take little sojourns to the Carolina coast, bringing along a lady friend and registering as Mr. and Mrs. Oscar Robertson. Once he was arrested because the girl was under 18. He was not without his flaws, which he knew as well as anybody.
I found him interesting but then again I didn’t have to coach him, as Frank Januszewski did at Oceanside or Vic Bubas did at Duke. He could taunt opponents, take a punch at somebody for no reason, and toss elbows in practice, just out of meanness. He was big enough to insinuate himself toward the basket, like Robertson, and when the Knicks drafted him first in 1963-64, he scored an average of 13.4 points in 75 games – what turned out to be the best season of his career.
The next year he was sitting a lot after Harry Gallatin, the rugged old forward, was brought back from the Midwest to coach the new breed.
This really happened: I was with the Knicks in a hotel lobby in Providence, when one of the players, rolling his eyes, informed us that crazy Artie had been playing poker after a loss to the Celtics earlier in the night, and Gallatin walked by the open door and, in a gesture of friendship, asked if he could take part.
“If you won’t let me into your game, Coach, I won’t let you into mine,” Artie said, and meant it.
The next season he was at Cincinnati, and after that he was in the American Basketball Association. He had a bad back; the attitude was not so good, either.
One year Heyman was playing for the New Jersey Americans, the forerunners of the new Brooklyn Nets. That is to say, before the Nets had Julius Erving from Roosevelt, L.I., they had Artie Heyman from Oceanside, L.I., a few miles away.
After games Artie would beat it back across the George Washington Bridge to the East Side of Manhattan, where he ran a bar that catered to flight attendants and males.
His career in the singles-bar trade was as disjointed as his basketball career or his persona. It was hard to keep things straight with him. I would diagnose him as having concentration issues; there was something sad about him, an inner lost child.
I ran into him in Manhattan in his various bar cycles, would catch up on the phone when I could track down his number. About 15 years ago I ran into him in North Carolina. He did not look healthy, and he felt under-appreciated. It was a long way from Oceanside High, when he climbed that ladder with the sharp object in his hand and nobody dared turn away.
9/12/2012 03:59:52 am
Although the name Heyman barely registered in my consciousness as a childhood Knickerbocker fan, I do recall it. He's wasn't in a league with the three "G's" in my mind (Guerin, Gola, Green) but this post sent me on an Internet search: learned details about his on-court fight with Larry Brown that started the special NC-Duke rivalry. Maybe I'll stop by The Watering Hole down in Gramercy next time I get to Town.
11/20/2013 02:29:58 pm
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9/12/2012 12:55:57 pm
A sad path, in essence peaking in high school, perhaps Duke. As always a human commentary, George.
9/12/2012 02:19:12 pm
Artie seemed to be on his way. My friend Arthur Benoit, the point guard on the 1955 Jamaica High championship team, has a photo of a summer league team on which he and his lifelong pal Alan Seiden were the guards. The backups were a couple of pishers from Long Island -- Heyman and Larry Brown.
9/3/2013 11:30:41 pm
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9/2/2013 07:30:29 am
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9/12/2013 06:30:03 pm
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1/29/2013 04:46:54 pm
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5/1/2013 09:59:12 pm
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7/3/2013 06:26:50 am
7/14/2013 06:43:43 pm
Great article.he must havr lived over by guttermans funeral home.rvc but oceanside schools.cant find cause of death.south side high
8/2/2013 03:39:55 am
Artie died two weeks ago at the age of 71 in Florida. He would come and go in life, as he did in his mercurial pro basketball career, which consisted of six seasons,
8/5/2013 01:38:06 am
He had so much talent coming along as a big-beamed 6-foot, 5-inch star at Oceanside and Duke that it was reasonable to envision him as the next big thing to Oscar Robertson.
8/14/2013 05:27:21 am
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8/29/2013 02:40:09 am
Artie died two weeks ago at the age of 71 in Florida. He would come and go in life, as he did in his mercurial pro basketball career, which consisted of six seasons, two leagues
9/12/2013 03:42:24 am
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9/13/2013 12:49:08 am
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9/24/2013 12:19:38 am
Artie died two weeks ago at the age of 71 in Florida. He would come and go in life, as he did in his mercurial pro basketball
9/29/2013 11:06:37 pm
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11/18/2013 05:33:43 am
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6/12/2014 10:56:37 pm
Artie was a cool guy. I knew has a high school star, & from around town. Whenever my dad would pick him up hitch hiking, he always had a basketball under his arm. Always like able & friendly, he will be missed
Davan S. Mani
3/12/2016 07:56:06 am
He made Duke what it is today by being the first highly touted player from New York to go there. He was supposed to go to UNC but changed his mind at the last minute. When he came out of high school, Jack Molinas got Connie Hawkins, Roger Brown, and Tony Jackson banned just by the near sight of him. But Molinas never messed with him. The fight with Larry Brown who actively recruited him as well as Doug Moe ultimately did him in. As it was rumored that they hired detectives to follow him around and ultimately got him busted with the underage "Mrs. Robertson." Ironically, he got letters from the Ku Klux Klan saying that he was credit to his race. But what ultimately did him in was being compared and asked to be the next Dolph Schayes. He wasn't the only one. It did in Lenny Rosenbluth, Barry Kramer, and Neal Walk. Oh how, Dolph tried with his camps.
Davan S. Mani
3/12/2016 08:04:00 am
Also, it affected Jack Molinas as well of being the next Dolph Schayes. At least if so, Art ruined his own life and not others.
12/3/2016 06:30:26 pm
I grew up in the next building to Artie Heyman (then known as Sondak) in Arverne, Rockaway Beach, Queens. I have a lot of history with Arty that I have never shared with anyone.
10/27/2017 11:49:39 am
I have a lot of history with him, too. He's my cousin. Not many know that Bill Heyman was his adopted step dad. My Aunt Charlotte, Artie's mother re-married several years after Irving Sondak passed away. Artie was a great ball player and a piece of work. While I got along with Uncle Bill, I think he may have been very tough on Artie and his sister. Would love to share stories.
3/30/2017 01:54:10 pm
I was in the stands as Artie cut down the net after the Baldwin win. I think the entire school was there.
10/27/2017 03:00:40 pm
I grew up with Artie on beach 73rd street, Rockaway Beach. We lived next door to each other. I'm 'sorry i never got to share some of my incredible moments that he and I went through.
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From the great Maureen Dowd:
As I write this, I’m in a deserted newsroom in The Times’s D.C. office. After working at home for two years during Covid, I was elated to get back, so I could wander around and pick up the latest scoop.
But in the last year, there has been only a smattering of people whenever I’m here, with row upon row of empty desks. Sometimes a larger group gets lured in for a meeting with a platter of bagels."
--- Dowd writes about the lost world of journalists clustered in newsrooms at all hours, smoking, drinking, gossipping, making phone calls, typing, editing.
"Putting out the paper," we called it.
Much more than nostalgia.