It’s the most common word used during any broadcast of a basketball game. Where did the word come from? It is courtesy of Carl Braun, the greatest hoopster in the glorious history of Garden City High School’s basketball program. As a star guard for the New York Knicks in the 1950s, Braun would use the word to describe a good practice shot. Sportscaster Marty Glickman picked up the slang and used it on the air. A legend was born.
Braun is Garden City’s contribution to this legacy. During the 1944-45 season, when the Trojans fielded undefeated champion squads in football, tennis and golf, Braun set a Long Island season scoring record, averaging 23.1 points per game.
For Braun, that was just the beginning. Upon graduation, Braun played college ball at Colgate, excelling in both baseball and basketball. Braun pitched briefly in the New York Yankees minor league system before an arm injury ended his diamond career.
The Brooklyn native had more luck in basketball. Undrafted out of college, he joined the squad for the 1947-48 season. Braun played 13 seasons in the NBA, winding up his career with the Boston Celtics, where he was a member of the 1962 world champion squad. In between, Braun became the first great shooting guard in Knicks history. Playing in a back court with fellow New Yorker Dick McGuire, Braun averaged in double digits in scoring for 11 consecutive seasons. In 1948, he set a then-single game scoring record, pouring in 47 points.
In the 1957-58 season, Braun had his best year, averaging 16.5 points per game. Braun delivered his scoring punch the old-fashioned way, perfecting the two-hand set shot that was once a staple of shooting guards everywhere. And it was accurate. During the 1960-61 season, Braun’s field goal percentage was a mind-boggling .468. The man connected on nearly half of his attempted shots. From the charity stripe, Braun was money in the bank. During the 1957-58 campaign, Braun’s free throw percentage was .849. That year, Braun reached career highs in minutes played, points, free throw percentage, rebounds and assists. Not surprisingly, he was named to the NBA All-Star squad that year. Braun played in a total of five All-Star games. In all, Braun scored 10,625 points in his illustrious career.
Upon his death in 2010, the man was fondly remembered.
“Carl Braun was the first superstar of the New York Knicks and a cornerstone of our franchise’s early success,” said Knick team president Donnie Walsh. “Watching him play at the old Garden was a privilege for us New Yorkers in the 1940s and ‘50s. He is a true legend in our sport and he will be missed.”
When Braun retired, he did so as the top scorer in team history, scoring 10,449 points as a Knickerbocker. He’s still in fifth place on the career list behind Patrick Ewing, Walt Frazier, Willis Reed and Allan Houston. And this April, the man finally got his due, being elected posthumously to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. As important, he is remembered fondly at his alma mater. Every year, the high school presents the Carl Braun Award to the most valuable player on the varsity basketball team.