Former New York Rens basketball star John Isaacs was featured in a big New York Daily News article last week by Bobby Ciafardini.

Ciafardini covers basketball for the News,, and other outlets, but he also covers the Bronx. This allowed him to get some fine insights about Isaacs in the piece, called “Legendary point guard John Isaacs gives back in South Bronx,” including this:

But for all the success Isaacs enjoyed on the hardwood, his greatest battles didn’t start bearing fruit until after his playing days came to an end.

For many generations of families in the Bronx, Isaacs’ legend has less to do with hoops and more to do with his role as a mentor at the Joel E. Smilow Clubhouse. For five decades, Isaacs has been a voice of reason in a depressed area where many children struggle to avoid the pitfalls of drugs and violence.

“Anyone who associates the Madison Square Boys & Girls Club, associates it was Mr. Isaacs,” said Frank Noboa, the club’s unit director for the past five years. “It’s really amazing to see the rich history and the impact he’s had on these families over fifty years. It’s a tribute to his dedication.”

Former New York Rens basketball star John Isaacs with young fans

Former Rens star John Isaacs poses with young fans, in front of Harlem’s Renaissance Ballroom in 2005.

It’s this part of Isaacs that’s most often overlooked.

You already know that I can’t stand it when the media focuses non-stop on problems rather than successes and possibilities. So I cringe when I read that the Bronx is characterized as “a depressed area where many children struggle to avoid the pitfalls of drugs and violence.”

Yet, it’s refreshing to see insightful off-court coverage of Isaacs, who’s been doing this brand of worthwhile community work non-stop without ever keeping score. But keeping score would be impossible, because his impact on the community can’t be measured anyway.

It’s the story of his life.

On the court, Isaacs’ best qualities are easily overlooked today — especially by the veterans committees of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame — since assists, steals, blocked shots, turnovers, and other hustle statistics weren’t tracked back then.

There are ways around this, of course, and Isaacs, as are several other Black Fives Era stars and pioneers, is deserving of a spot in Springfield.

Meanwhile, the Hall of Fame doesn’t count community impact as one of its criteria for enshrinement, nor should they. But if they did then Isaacs would be inducted immediately.

The complete Daily News article …

(Photo courtesy Claude Johnson/Black Fives, Inc.)