A member of the LIU (Long Island University) Athletics Hall of Fame, Bender was considered by many to be the best college basketball player of his era, despite being less than six feet tall. Julie, who played for legendary LIU coach Clair Bee on the great Blackbird teams of the mid-1930s, was described by Bee as possessing ďa deadly long shot (no arch), a wonderful layup, and was undoubtably one of the all-time greats in 'one-on-one' play."
The first player in New York metropolitan college basketball to score over 1,000 career points, and the first winner of the Haggerty Award (still given annually to the outstanding player in the Metropolitan New York area), Bender led LIU to an astonishing four-year mark of 105-6. That record included a 43-game winning streak, and an undefeated season in 1936 (26-0).
After his stellar college career, Bender played professionally in the ABL (American Basketball League) with Kate Smith's Celtics, the Baltimore Bullets, Kingston Colonials, Wilkes Barre Barons, and Baltimore Clippers. Julie then refereed high school games in New York City and taught at Boy's High School (his alma mater).
Birth and Death Dates:
b. 1914 - d. unknown
In the early 1930s, college basketball in New York City gained in popularity and prestige as double-headers in Madison Square Garden began to attract top teams from around the country. Long Island University, which began its basketball program in 1928, struggled to gain prestige in this hotbed of college basketball under Hall of Fame coach Clair Bee. Although LIU consistently won, respect was hard to come by as City College of New York, New York University, St. Johnís, and other city schools remained the favorites.
In 1934, Bender and classmates Leo Merson and Ben Kramer arrived on campus. Along with sophomore Bill Schwartz and junior center Archie Kameros, they turned LIU into a national power. That first year, Bender finished third on the team in scoring with 214 points (fourth in the Metropolitan area) as LIU finished 26-1. According to the New York Evening Post (February 15, 1934), LIU finally gained respect in their only loss of the season (33-28), to St. Johnís. The Post hailed LIU as ďa new basketball power.Ē
Over the next two seasons, LIU rose to the pinnacle of college basketball and was hailed as the best team in New York City by the end of 1936. Bender led the Metropolitan area in scoring in both 1935 (246 points) and 1936 (264 points), and helped the Blackbirds win 50 of 52 games in that span, including all 26 games in 1936, a year in which they won the mythical Eastern Championship. That season, Bender was named first team All-Met and won the first-ever Haggerty Award, given to the best player in the New York Metropolitan area.
In 1937, Bender co-captained the team with Leo Merson and moved to guard to make room in the starting lineup for talented sophomore forward Irv Torgoff. Julie continued his brilliant play, and was named Converse and Madison Square Garden first team All-America while leading the Metropolitan area in scoring for the third time in his career (265 points in 29 games). The Blackbirds followed up their undefeated 1936 season with a record of 28-3 and the mythical Metropolitan championship; they ran their winning streak to 43 games before it was broken by Stanford (led by the one-handed shooting Hank Luisetti). On February 19, 2000, LIU established its Athletics Hall of Fame. Bender was among its inaugural class of 11 inductees.
After completing his collegiate basketball career, Bender played professionally in the American Basketball League, the top Eastern league in the 1930s. Professional basketball would not truly emerge into the national spotlight for quite a while, but regional leagues were successful and competitive. The ABL had eight teams in 1938-39 when Bender played for the Wilkes-Barre Barons. Julie averaged 5.2 points for his club, which finished fifth in the league with a 14-22 record.
The next season, Bender played for the Baltimore Clippers. Julie increased his scoring average to 5.9 per game (147 points in 25 games), but the Clippers finished fifth with a 15-16 record. Bender next appears in the ABL statistics in 1944 with the Paterson Crescents, for whom he played 6 games in 1944-45, and 11 games the following season. The Crescents did not make the playoffs either season. After his playing days were over, Bender refereed high school games in New York City, and was a teacher at Boy's High School.
New York City
Bender played forward and guard at Long Island University, 1934-1937. He then played in the ABL for Kate Smithís Celtics and the Kingston Colonials in 1937-38, the Wilkes-Barre Barons in 1938-39, the Baltimore Clippers in 1939-40, and the Paterson Crescents, 1944-46.
5'11", 160 pounds