Death of Knicks Star Dean Meminger Hits Jewish Camp Director Hard

Troubled NBA Player Was Close Friend of Irv Bader

Friend Lost: Dean ‘The Dream’ Meminger was a longtime participant at Camp Seneca Lake, a Jewish hoops camp in the Poconos.
Friend Lost: Dean ‘The Dream’ Meminger was a longtime participant at Camp Seneca Lake, a Jewish hoops camp in the Poconos.

By Hillel Kuttler

Published September 25, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(JTA) — Dean Meminger sat in owner Irv Bader’s office at Camp Seneca Lake and talked of his girlfriend, her battle with lupus and their plans to marry.

Meminger, known as “The Dream” as a star guard at Marquette University and a key reserve for the New York Knicks’ 1973 championship team, had just finished a four-day stint late last month at a basketball camp at the Pocono Mountains’ Jewish facility. He had taught the players with enthusiasm and his demeanor bespoke an apparent contentment with life.

Before Meminger boarded a bus back to New York, the friends, who had known each other for decades, hugged and pledged to meet soon in the city.

The next day Meminger, 65, was gone, found dead in a hotel room in Manhattan’s Harlem neighborhood.

For Bader, the phone call informing him of Meminger’s death was “like hitting me in the head.” He had employed Meminger for many summers at Seneca Lake.

Shortly after the call, Bader wondered to another longtime employee, Gus Kennedy, whether his cash payment had prompted a splurge that indirectly led to the ex-ballplayer’s demise, since Meminger reportedly had battled drugs for many years. (The cause of death has not been released.)

Bader had paid Meminger $1,200 in cash — $300 for each of the four days of running clinics and refereeing games — and added $200 because he said the ex-Knick “always needed help” financially.

With the Knicks, Meminger had played for Hall of Fame coach Red Holzman and with a cast of future Hall of Famers — Walt Frazier, Willis Reed, Earl “The Pearl” Monroe, Dave DeBusschere, Bill Bradley and Jerry Lucas.

After his six-year NBA playing career with the Knicks and Atlanta Hawks, Meminger worked in basketball off and on, running clinics and teaching kids at camps like Bader’s. He also had three coaching stints spread over more than two decades, until 2003. Since then, several friends said they didn’t know how Meminger earned a living or whether he could make ends meet.

They said Meminger kept quiet about his life; several weren’t even sure where he lived. The friends were circumspect about his drug addiction, with Bader saying he saw no signs of the problem but that Meminger would’ve been fired if he had.

Meminger had been hospitalized following a 2009 fire that started in his room in the Bronx. Crack pipes were found in the room, but they did not cause the fire, according to newspaper reports.

After the fire, “I was hard on him,” Meminger’s former Knicks teammate and longtime friend Mel Davis told JTA last week. “I told him, ‘Dean, God gave you another chance.’ ” In their semiweekly conversations in recent years, “I always motivated him to take care of himself,” Davis said.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "I thought I was the only Jew on a Harley Davidson, but I was wrong." — Gil Paul, member of the Hillel's Angels. http://jd.fo/g4cjH
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • "My husband has been offered a terrific new job in a decent-sized Midwestern city. This is mostly great, except for the fact that we will have to leave our beloved NYC, where one can feel Jewish without trying very hard. He is half-Jewish and was raised with a fair amount of Judaism and respect for our tradition though ultimately he doesn’t feel Jewish in that Larry David sort of way like I do. So, he thinks I am nuts for hesitating to move to this new essentially Jew-less city. Oh, did I mention I am pregnant? Seesaw, this concern of mine is real, right? There is something to being surrounded by Jews, no? What should we do?"
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • What Thomas Aquinas might say about #Hamas' tunnels:
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • "When it comes to Brenda Turtle, I ask you: What do you expect of a woman repressed all her life who suddenly finds herself free to explore? We can sit and pass judgment, especially when many of us just simply “got over” own sexual repression. But we are obliged to at least acknowledge that this problem is very, very real, and that complete gender segregation breeds sexual repression and unhealthy attitudes toward female sexuality."
  • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
  • After years in storage, Toronto’s iconic red-and-white "Sam the Record Man" sign, complete with spinning discs, will return to public view near its original downtown perch. The sign came to symbolize one of Canada’s most storied and successful Jewish family businesses.
  • Is $4,000 too much to ask for a non-member to be buried in a synagogue cemetery?
  • "Let’s not fall into the simplistic us/them dichotomy of 'we were just minding our business when they started firing rockets at us.' We were not just minding our business. We were building settlements, manning checkpoints, and filling jails." What do you think?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.