Here’s a wonderfully entertaining entry from the better-late-than-never file and it involves feisty former NBA player Billy Gabor of Jupiter, whose 93rd birthday is Wednesday.
“Billy the Bullet” was his nickname when Gabor played for the Syracuse Nationals of the longago NBA. He was part of a league championship team in 1955 with Hall of Famer Dolph Schayes as a teammate but they never got a championship ring.
Pro basketball was not a big-money sport back then so the Nationals’ ownership group couldn’t spring for rings. Gabor displays in his home the engraved ice bucket that the team awarded its players instead.
After all this time, however, the rings are finally in.
Howard Dolgon, owner of the American Hockey League’s Syracuse Crunch, had diamond-studded 1955 NBA championship rings made for the four Nationals players still living. Gabor wasn’t feeling well enough to make the trip to Syracuse, where a ceremony recently took place at the old War Memorial Auditorium there. That’s where the hockey team plays now and where the Nationals played then.
On Wednesday night at an Outback restaurant in Jupiter, Gabor and friends will gather to celebrate the arrival of the ring, and to admire its shiny brilliance.
That ice bucket soon will have to share space with a new artifact of Gabor’s youth on the mantel of his seaside Jupiter condo.