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Rory Sparrow

Sport: Basketball

Born: June 12, 1958

Town: Paterson

Rory Darnell Sparrow was born June 12, 1958 in Suffolk, Virginia and grew up in Paterson, New Jersey. The Sparrows moved to the Garden State when he was 3 years old. Quick, clever and athletic, Rory learned how to maximize his skills on the Paterson playgrounds as a shooter and playmaker. Rory was as gifted in the classroom as he was on the court, graduating 10th in a class of more than 500 students at Eastside High School.

Rory was recruited by several colleges. He decided to go with Villanova. After a solid freshman season, Rory became the starter for coach Rollie Massamino at point guard. In 1977–78 the Wildcats made it to the East Regional of the NCAA Tournament, falling to Duke, which went on to play for the championship. During Rory’s senior season, Villanova went 23–8 but lost to top-ranked Syracuse in the tournament. Rory shot over 50% each season with the Wildcats, and consistently scored in double-figures.

Rory was drafted in the fourth round by the New Jersey Nets (back when there was a fourth round). He failed to make the club, but continued working on his game in the CBA with the Scranton Aces, and was called up by the Nets as a sub a couple of times during the 1980–81 season. Former Nets coach Kevin Loughery, who was coaching the Atlanta Hawks, knew Rory was a diamond in a rough and traded for him after the season. He became a starter for Atlanta, averaging 10 points and 5 rebounds and leading the team to the playoffs. During the following season, Rory was acquired by the Knicks.

Rory became a favorite of the New York fans, starting most games but also performing well as a Sixth Man. In 1983–84, starting beside Ray Williams in the backcourt—with Bill Cartwright and Bernard King up front—he helped the Knicks go 47–35. They nearly beat the powerhouse Celtics in the playoffs, winning three straight after dropping the first two contests. Unfortunately, they lost Game 7 121–104.

The Knicks dealt Rory to the Chicago Bulls in 1987. In 1988, he signed with the expansion Miami Heat and scored the first points in franchise history. He averaged 12.5 points per game in 1988–89, the top mark in his career. Rory finished his career with the Kings, Bulls and Lakers, calling it quits in 1992 at age 34. In 1994, he went to work for the NBA. He also held free basketball camps in Paterson.

Throughout his career, Rory spent time and money improving life in the surrounding communities. In 1986, he and Michael Cooper were co-winners of the Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award. In 1987, Sports Illustrated recognized him as a Co-Sportsman of the Year. In 2008, Rory was a member of the inaugural class of the Eastside High School Hall of Fame.

 

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