Drucker, Norm : Jews In Sports @ Virtual Museum

Drucker, Norm

Norman Drucker

Drucker played at City College of New York (CCNY) in the early 1940s. After his playing days ended, Norman became a referee and was considered one of the top refs in the NBA in the 1950s and 1960s. He once said, "Basketball is the toughest game to officiate. You could take a fellow with little experience and throw him into a baseball or football game and he might be able to get by without being embarrassed. Put a fellow of minimal experience in a pro basketball game and you'd have a riot out there in two minutes."

In the 1960s, newspaper columnist Vic Ziegel wrote a poem in the Daily News,
"Norman Drucker lost his whistle
Couldn't tweet and couldn't twistle
Used his voice as a substitute
For all the missing root-toot-toot
(Of course it hurt his throat a bissel)"

Birth and Death Dates:
b. 1921

Career Highlights:
Drucker played under the great Nat Holman at CCNY from 1940-1942. A graduate of Erasmus High School in Brooklyn, Drucker was a member of some very good City teams; in his day the Beavers were rated among the best in the country. In 1941, they compiled a record of 17-5 and followed that up with a mark of 16-3 in 1942. Among Drucker’s teammates in 1942 were future New York Knicks head coach and Hall of Famer, Red Holzman and Sonny Hertzberg, who would become the first-ever Knicks captain (in 1946-47). In 1942, CCNY was invited to the NIT (National Invitational Tournament) as the No. 3 seed, but were upset in the first round by Western Kentucky, 49-46; Drucker did not play in the game.

In 1943, Drucker entered the U.S. Army. He earned a B.A. and M.A. while serving three years in Europe. Discharged as a first lieutenant in 1946, Drucker returned to the game of basketball and played parts of three seasons in the American Basketball League. The ABL had been the top professional league in the East in the 1930s and early 1940s, but with the formation of the Basketball Association of America (the forerunner of the NBA) in 1946, the ABL became relegated to ‘minor’ league status. Many players still competed in both leagues, since the BAA had not yet completed its evolution into the top league in the country.

Drucker joined the Trenton Tigers in the 1946-47 season and appeared in 27 games. The squad finished 17-17 in the regular season. Third in the Southern Division, the Tigers advanced to the ABL Finals. They were declared champions by default when their opponents, the Baltimore Bullets (who went 31-3 during the season), chose to play in the World Professional Tournament instead of the league championship: the tournament was held between 1939-49 and attracted the top teams in the country. Drucker left to play for Elizabeth in 1947. He played in only three games over the next two seasons, retiring after the 1948-49 season, having played one game for the Brooklyn Gothams that year.

In 1949, Drucker began to referee college basketball, AAU (Amateur Athletic Union), and American Pro League games. A couple of years later, he was called to officiate a game by NBA Commissioner Maurice Podoloff and was hired permanently by the league in the mid-1950s. Drucker was an NBA referee for the next 15 years, and also worked in the New York City school system.

In 1969, Drucker switched leagues and began to officiate in the rival ABA (American Basketball Association). From 1969-1973, Drucker was the ABA's Supervisor of Officials in the ABA, while continuing to ref games. When the ABA and NBA merged in 1976, he returned to officiate NBA games, and in 1977, Norm was appointed Supervisor of Officials in the NBA; he held that position until 1981. Drucker was the Director of Operations for the World Basketball League from 1987-1992. He is a member of the New York Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, and the New York City Basketball Hall of Fame.

Origin:
New York

Career Dates:
Drucker played at CCNY from 1940-42. He then played in the ABL with the Trenton Tigers in 1946-47, for Elizabeth in 1947-48 (two games), and with the Brooklyn Gothams in 1948-49 (one game).

Physical description:
5'10"



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References:
Ronald Encyclopedia of Basketball, edited by William G. Mokray (Ronald Press: 1962)
Vintage NBA: The Pioneer Era, 1946-1956, by Neil D. Isaacs
Who's Who in Basketball, by Ronald L. Mendell
New York Times, March 20, 1942


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