Ron Naclerio is, without doubt, the most legendary high school coach of any sport in New York City proper. In fact, he’s probably ascended to become the most legendary coach in the tri-state area now that Bob Hurley Sr.’s St. Anthony in Jersey City has closed. Naclerio has coached a half dozen NBA stars, led state champion teams and turned the Cardozo High School basketball program into the shining light of the New York City Public School Athletic League (PSAL).
Over the course of his decades-long career, Naclerio has transformed his office at the school into a veritable basketball shrine. According to the New York Post, that office was unceremoniously locked just last week by new Cardozo principal Meagan Colby. The principal’s goal allegedly is to turn the office into the home base for a new ROTC program.
“It’s a special place,” Naclerio told The Post. “I gave it my life. … It is something that to so many people probably means nothing, but to me, it’s like a sanctuary. … It’s like a part of me that died.”
For Naclerio, the office is a physical embodiment of all he has accomplished, a reminder of the great players he’s helped tutor while he continues to mold the next generation behind them; the coach is reportedly confident his part-time contract position is safe even if his office isn’t.
That isn’t the point, of course. Even legendary figures in other professional sports feel passionate that the way Naclerio is being treated is unfair.
“When it comes to public high school basketball, he’s legend, and whenever you went to that gym you would go into that office and see all the history and all the pictures of all the guys he’s helped,” former Mets general manager turned executive Omar Minaya told the Post.