Dambrot, Irwin : Jews In Sports @ Virtual Museum

Dambrot, Irwin

A 6'4" forward and center while at CCNY (City College of New York), Dambrot was the captain and leader of the CCNY team that won both the NIT and NCAA tournaments in 1950 (the only time any school won both tournaments in the same year). The 1949-50 CCNY team was inducted into the New York City Basketball Hall of Fame in 1994.

The Most Valuable Player of the NCAA tournament, Dambrot is a member of the school's Athletic Hall of Fame after playing in 98 career games and scoring 977 points (10.0 average).

Drafted by New York Knicks as the seventh overall pick in the 1950 NBA draft, Dambrot never played in the NBA. He became a dentist instead. His brother Sid Dambrot played at Duquesne University from 1950-1954.

Birth and Death Dates:

Career Highlights:
In 1950, while leading CCNY to the double NCAA and NIT victories as captain of the team, Dambrot averaged 10.2 points per game and was named Helms first team All-America, and Converse third team All-America. Irwin was the third leading scorer in the NCAA tournament and was named the MVP of the tournament (he scored 28 points in the final two games).

Entering the 1950 postseason, though, it looked like CCNY, with Dambrot as the only senior in the starting line-up, would not be invited to any tournament. After rising to No. 7 in the AP poll earlier in the year, CCNY went through a second-half slump, during which they lost to Canisius, Niagara, and Syracuse. Only by sweeping the so-called 'subway series' among metropolitan New York schools did they earn an invitation to the NIT. Many believed the 17-5, and unranked, City team was headed for an early exit.

In the first round of the 12-team NIT, City began its remarkable run by defeating 12th-ranked San Francisco, the defending NIT champions, 65-46. In the quarterfinals, CCNY caused their critics to take notice as they routed No. 3 Kentucky, the two-time defending NCAA champion, 89-50. It was the worst loss in Kentucky coach Adolph Rupp's career, and the Kentucky state legislature passed a resolution calling for the capitol building's flag to be flown at half mast! In the semis, City defeated No. 6 Duquesne, 62-52, earning them a trip to the NIT final and an invitation to the NCAA tournament the following week (unable to choose between CCNY, St. John's and Duquesne, the selection committee decided to invite whichever advanced furthest in the NIT; thus, City got the invitation). In the NIT final, City defeated the top-ranked team in the nation, Bradley, 69-61. Dambrot scored 23 points in the final, and the Cinderella CCNY team was the toast of New York; they were honored with a reception at City Hall two days later.

The following week, their remarkable run continued into the less-prestigious 8-team NCAA tournament. CCNY and Bradley were only the fifth and sixth teams to compete in both the NIT and NCAA. In 1949, Kentucky won the NCAA tourney, but was eliminated in the first round of the NIT; no team had ever won both tournaments in the same year. The City team defeated No. 2 Ohio State, 56-55, and No. 5 North Carolina State, 78-73, to earn a trip to the final, and a rematch with Bradley. In the final game, City was leading by one when Bradley's leading scorer Gene Melchiorre drove for the go-ahead basket. Dambrot blocked the shot and threw a long pass to teammate Norm Mager for the final basket of City's thrilling victory, 71-68. They accomplished what no team had ever done, winning both the NCAA and NIT tournaments. Dambrot, who scored 15 points in the final, was named MVP of the NCAA tournament.

New York City

Career Dates:
Dambrot played forward at CCNY, 1946-1950.

Physical description:
6'4", 175 pounds

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encyclopedia of JEWS in sports, by Bernard Postal, Jesse Silver, and Roy Silver (New York: Bloch Publishing Co., 1965)
Scandals of '51: How Gamblers Almost Killed College Basketball, by Charley Rosen (New York: Seven Stories Press, 1999)