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ESM Alum Larry Costello Named to the Basketball Hall of Fame

We’re proud that ESM Alum Larry Costello (Class of ’49) has been named to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. He was a 6 time NBA All-Star in 12 seasons. He was a member of the ’67 World Champion Philadelphia 76ers and coached 10 years, including taking the Milwaukee Bucks to the ’71 NBA title. He also returned to ESM to serve as the Spartan’s first basketball coach when districts merged to become the East Syracuse Minoa. He was inducted into ESM's Athletic Hall of Fame in 2007. His career as a player and a coach in 5 different decades is unparalleled.

Lawrence "Larry" Ronald Costello was born on July 2, 1931 and was raised in Minoa, graduating from Minoa High School in 1949.  He was a three-sport star in high school, excelling at football, basketball and baseball.  His first love was always basketball, even though he helped lead his Minoa football team to one of the longest winning streaks in state history.  He averaged 24 points per game on the basketball court.

He went on to Niagara University and continued playing basketball where he scored 1275 points in three years, leading the Purple Tigers to two NIT tournaments.  In both the ‘52-‘53 and the ’53-’54 seasons he was named to the NCAA All-American list.  He received the Look Magazine All-American Award in 1954.

After college, Costello decided to pursue a career in dentistry but was pulled to the NBA instead.  His NBA career with the Philadelphia Warriors was put on hold while he served in the Army in Europe.  After his discharge, he returned to the Warriors for a short time before moving back to Syracuse to join the Nationals and star alongside such legends as Dolph Shayes, Johnny Kerr and Hal Greer.  It is here where he got the nickname “the Minoa Comet”.  Bob Cousey of the Boston Celtics called Larry Costello the toughest opponent he ever faced.

While playing at Syracuse, Costello set the NBA record for consecutive points without a miss when he hit for 32 straight against the Celtics on December 8, 1961.   He also led the league in free throw percentage in the 1962-63 and 1964-65 with .881 and .877 respectively.

In 1965 he returned to his hometown of Minoa and became the first basketball coach of the newly merged East Syracuse-Minoa Spartans. In one season, he led ESM to an OHSL County co-championship. But Alex Hannum and Wilt Chamberlain lured Costello back to the Philadelphia 76ers and he helped them win a world championship on a squad that included Chamberlain, Hal Greer, Chet Walker, Billy Cunningham and Lucious Jackson.

Costello was then chosen to coach the expansion Milwaukee Bucks and with a fortunate flip of a coin was able to land Lou Alcindor (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) and Oscar Robertson.  He was one of the first head coaches to employ an assistant and pioneered the use of videotape.  The Bucks, guided by Costello won an NBA World Championship in just their third year, a record for any expansion team in any professional sport that still stands today.

In 1980 Costello returned to the area, coaching Utica College for seven years before deciding to retire for good.  His fabulous career as a player and a coach in 5 different decades is unparralled.  He was an NBA All-Star 6 times.  He is listed in the NBA Register as one of the “All Time Great Players” and “All Time Great Coaches”.  He served ten years as a head coach and won five Western Division titles and one World Championship.

He passed away on December 11, 2001. Costello is also a member of the Niagara University Hall of Fame, Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame, Greater Buffalo Hall of Fame, ESM Athletic Hall of Fame and the New York State Hall of Fame.