Springfield, Massachusetts — Larry Costello is officially a member of the Hall of Fame.
The Minoa native, nicknamed the “Minoa Comet” because of the speed that characterized his game, will be enshrined with the Class of 2022 in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame today.
The official ceremony will take place at Symphony Hall tonight. It can be viewed on NBA TV, beginning with red carpet walks that begin at 6 p.m. The ceremony begins at 7 a.m. The Costello girls expect him to be the 10th of 13 celebrated players, coaches and/or contributors.
Costello began his career at Minoa High School, where he played baseball, basketball, and soccer, despite his short stature. He was a basketball All-American at Niagara University, where he left as the school’s all-time leading scorer. He was a six-time NBA All-Star with the Syracuse Nats and won two NBA free throw shooting titles during that time. He won an NBA title with the Philadelphia 76ers on a team that included Wilt Chamberlain.
Costello then, improbably, took a professional detour to East Syracuse-Minoa High School, coaching that team to a county title before returning to the NBA to play two more seasons. He officially retired as a player in 1968. The following season he was the new coach of the expansion Milwaukee Bucks, whose drafting Lew Alcindor (now Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) would push the team towards a sudden greatness.
Three years later, the Bucks won an NBA championship, making them the fastest franchise to go from an expansion team to a title team. Costello’s coaching innovations included building a playbook, hiring assistant coaches, and detailed scouting reports on opposing teams and players.
Costello had long hoped to be recognized by the Springfield Sanctuary for Basketball Greatness. Alas, he died of cancer in December 2001 at the age of 70. It would be 21 years before the Naismith Hall of Fame recognized his contributions to the game.
His wife, Barbara, died in 2008; both are buried in St. Mary’s Cemetery, about 80 paces from where Costello once held pick-up games for children in the Minoa neighborhood.
Costello’s daughters Lesley, Pam, Amy and Colleen will be shown tonight during one of two video tributes to their father. The four sisters are here to celebrate the man they loved and respected.
Costello’s sister, Dolores, had planned to make the trip, but her husband Dick’s recent surgery kept her in Florida. Minoa resident Tom Costello, Larry’s 15-year-old younger brother, should be here. The same goes for various nieces, nephews and other family members who adored Larry Costello.
Friends including DJ Carstensen, who defended Costello for the Hall, and Jim Satalin, made the trip. Costello’s former Niagara roommate, John “Sparks” Moore, is also expected to attend. The same goes for current Niagara coach Greg Paulus, a native of Syracuse.
We’ll have more coverage later on Costello’s consecration.
Larry Costello: Forgotten CNY Hall of Famer
Part 1: Larry Costello: A skinny kid from Minoa lays the groundwork for the NBA, Hall of Fame
Part 2: Larry Costello: Focused and intense, the Niagara star emerges as a handful to keep
Part 3: Larry Costello: The ‘toughest boy’ finds NBA success and a family in his backyard
Part 4: Larry Costello: Kareem, Oscar and the Coach’s Epic Playbook Bring an NBA Title to Milwaukee
Part 5: Larry Costello: Competitor Focuses on Family in CNY and Finally Wins Validation