Ex-NBA center tells great story about deceased NJ Nets owner Lewis Katz

jim-mcilvaine-new-jersey-netsMany were stunned by the unexpected and sudden death of former New Jersey Nets owner Lewis Katz. Katz, 72, along with seven other passengers, died in a plane crash on May 31. There were no survivors. Officials gave no information on the cause of the crash, which sent up a fireball and shook nearby homes.

Katz’ son Drew confirmed his father’s death in a crash of a Gulfstream IV private jet, which went down on takeoff Saturday night from Hanscom Field outside Boston on its way to Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Former NBA center Jim McIlvaine, who once played for the Nets, remembered Katz, and wrote a short blog post devoted to the former NBA owner.

“I was shocked to hear of the terrible loss of Lewis Katz in a plane crash late last night in Boston,” McIlvaine said.

McIlvaine played three seasons for the Nets, appearing in 106 games (started in 57), averaging 2.2 ppg, 3.0 rpg and 1.5 bpg in 14.2 mpg.

Noting that Katz was a great person, McIlvaine shared a great story.

“When I heard the news, I immediately called one of my good friends, who had worked for Mr. Katz for several years, fearing he had been on the plane as well. Fortunately, he was not, but he told a great story of the last time he was with Mr. Katz,” McIlvaine wrote on SportsBlog.

“They were in Central Park in New York and Mr. Katz was handing out $100 bills to the homeless, encouraging them to go get a good meal. Some were very appreciative, but many were stunned by the generosity and didn’t know how to react,” he wrote.

McIlvaine noted that there’s always a great void left in the world when we lose a person like Lewis Katz.

“It is my hope that when stories of his philanthropy and generosity are shared, it will inspire others to give of their time, treasure or talent, to help make up for the loss,” he said.

Jim McIlvaine played 7 seasons in the NBA, for Washington Bullets, Seattle Sonics and New Jersey Nets. He established himself as a solid shot-blocker in the league, averaging a career-high 2.1 blocks per game in 1995-96.

He played in total of 401 NBA games (started in 214), averaging 2.7 ppg, 3.1 rpg and 1.7 bpg in 14.8 mpg.

Lewis Katz, who grew up in Camden, New Jersey, made his fortune investing in the Kinney Parking empire and the Yankees Entertainment and Sports Network in New York. He once owned the NBA’s New Jersey Nets and the NHL’s New Jersey Devils and was a major donor to Temple University, his alma mater.


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