Basketball Hall of Famers Bill Walton (far left), John Havlicek (rear, wearing sunglasses) and Dolph Schayes (pulling down cover) participated in the ceremony.This reflective street clock, located in Armory Square, has become a permanent display in our community for visitors to appreciate.
In 1999, it was announced that Danny Biasone (the one time owner of the Syracuse Nationals) would be inducted into the National Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts for inventing the 24-second shot clock rule that revolutionized basketball and “saved” the National Basketball Association. The shot clock was first tested in the summer of 1954 at the Blodgett Elementary School in Syracuse and the rule was adopted in the NBA immediately thereafter. The clock is credited with turning the NBA into the fast-paced, action-filled game that it is today. The original 24-second shot clock is currently on display along with other Biasone memorabilia at Le Moyne College in Syracuse.
NBA great and Syracuse resident Dolph Schayes, spearheaded the effort of community’s leaders to host a celebration in 2000 to honor Biasone’s induction. A local committee was formed and a tribute was held on November 28th, 2000. Included in the celebration were NBA legends ( Ephraim “Red” Rocha, Alex Hannum, Billy Kenville, Earl Lloyd, Billy Gabor, Johnny Kerr, Al Bianchi, Bob Harrison, Dolph Schayes and Bob Wanzer). That evening of the tribute, a few members of the local organizing committee and members of the Syracuse Nationals meet to share old stories. At that gathering the project of erecting the 24-second shot clock monument was first considered.
In 2001, a joint committee of members of the Greater Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame and committee members of the Biasone tribute, of which NBA great Dolph Schayes and John Rathbun were the most active, was constituted and then proceeded to solicit financial support for this new project. John Rathbun, then Director of Sports Development for the Greater Syracuse Chamber of Commerce, with comrades Schayes, Fran McGrath and Dennis Brogan were the sub-committee to whom was entrusted the selection of a proper design, and after consultation with artists of reputation and ability, the plan of the present monument was adopted, the design being to place upon it a life size statue of the 24 second shot clock. The sub committee set a campaign goal of $ 75,000.00 that would ultimately pay for the purchase, instillation and maintenance of the clock. The original intent of this reflective street clock would be located next to the Onondaga County War Memorial and would become a permanent display in our community and for visitors to appreciate - the unveiling would also be part of a special 50 years history tribute of the War Memorial in 2001. That sub committee started to solicited financial support from local and state politicians, industries and private donations. The committee, which at the time felt it, would be easy to find individuals to contribute support for the project fond very little interest. Months and months of knocking on doors and calling in favors, the project seam to be in trouble. Only Syracuse Mayor Matthew Driscoll continued to endorse the project, not financially but with in-kind services. The committee continued on with very little hope of raising the much need money to construct the monument.
Months turned into years and the project seamed doom until one snowy day a city resident set up a meeting with Rathbun and showed interest in resurrect the project. The individual who once was a ball boy for the Nationals pledged the much-needed money to complete the project, with one exception - that his involvement has to remain anonymous. Rathbun with this news and excitement reconvene the original sub committee and the project took a new life.
It was decided to give the contract to Mr. Bob Haley of Ashley McGraw Architects to design and install a full-size street monument. It was Mr. Haley responsibility to find the proper location and try to utilize local vendors to create the structure. Different locations were now being considered; the grassy newels outside the War Memorial, the New York State Fairgrounds, Boldgett Elementary and Armory Square were all taken into deep consideration. Each location held significant historical connection with either the Syracuse Nationals or the 24-second shot clock itself. Once again, it was only Mayor Driscoll that stepped forward to support the initiative and donated the land for the monument in downtown Syracuse. Armory Square was the unanimous choice from all involved.
It was now in the hand of the architect firm to develop that land across the street from the old military armory (now the MOST) which the Nationals played from 1949-1951, not only did Mr. Haley and the sub committee wanted to erect a monuments that paid tribute to the rule but also enhance a small public park in the heart of Armory Square. The monument was formally dedicated on March 26th, 2005 (exactly 50 years to the date of Syracuse winning its first and only NBA Championship). The unveiling happened during the NCAA Men’s basketball tournament and the Sweet Sixteen weekend festivities.
The complete structure was design, constructed and installed by Syracuse vendors (Neon Grassworks and and local electrician Louis Geswaldo).
"The people of this community and especially the members of the Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame and the friends of Syracuse Nationals everywhere, owe a debt of gratitude to local organizing committee, without whose untiring efforts and personal sacrifices of this beautiful monument would never have been erected. They have made it the work of months and years, and their zeal has carried with them even those who at the beginning were doubtful of success. Their services in this enterprise should never be forgotten.” Rathbun said.
When the monument finally was completed, the entire community felt that it was a gala affair for sure. “To be part of the NCAA basketball fanfest and take advantage of the national media that was in town for the games, only enhanced the total unveiling,” Rathbun said. “People came from all over the country to witness the dedication.”
The Syracuse Post Standard wrote: “Thousands of people present and sports writers from all over the country were at unveiling of the 24 Second Shot Clock monument’ and its presentation to the city of Syracuse. Beautiful spring weather was vouchsafed for Decoration Day and the occasion will be long remembered by our citizens. The program of exercises included, besides the usual political speeches, comments from Dolph Schayes, John Havlicek and Earl Lloyd, the ceremony was facilitated the Doug Logan from Time Warner Sports television.
The generous supports for the 24 second shot clock monument included:
Mayor Matthew J. Driscoll, Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame, Syracuse Parks and Recreation Department, Greater Syracuse Chamber of Commerce, Syracuse Sports Corporation, Milton J. Rubenstein Museum of Science and Technologies, Armory Square Association, Neon Grassworks, A.R.K. Ramos, Ashley McGraw Architects, Central New York Community Foundation, Raulli & Son Inc, and Sean Kirst from the Syracuse Post Standard.