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Basketball Olympian Visits Key Club

Ray Lumpp remembers the 1948 gold medal squad

This summer, the United States will field another top-notch basketball team at the London Summer Olympics, one that is expected to win the gold medal. Recently, the County Seat Kiwanis hosted a breakfast with a New York basketball star that won a gold medal with the 1948 squad, a year when the Olympics were also in London, but also a time when all the athletes were amateurs.

Ray Lumpp visited Kiwanis members as part of its joint meeting with the Wheatley High School Key Club. There, Ray talked about traveling to London that year and the pride he felt in helping to win the gold medal for his country.

A native of Brooklyn, Ray played his high school ball at Newtown High School in Elmhurst, Queens. After starring at Newton, Ray then played for New York University in the highly competitive world of New York City college basketball, which then boasted legendary squads from The City College of New York.

In 1948, the Indianapolis Jets of the nascent National Basketball Association (NBA) drafted Ray. But first, it was off to London for the Olympics, one held just three years after the ending of World War II and in an England still recovering from the devastation of that conflict.

Ray played on a legendary squad coached by Hall of Famer Adolph Rupp of the University of Kentucky. The team included Rupp’s own players—-Ralph Beard, Alex Groza, Wallace Jones, Cliff Barker and Kenny Rollins—-“The Fabulous Five” that had also won the 1947-48 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) title.  

After the Olympics, Ray went on to have a stellar five-year career in the NBA. After playing part of one year in Indianapolis, Ray was traded home to New York, where he played four years for the Knicks. Ray wound up his career with one season with the Baltimore Bullets. During this NBA career, Ray scored 2,462 points (8.2 points per game), while hauling down 391 rebounds and doling out 654 from his guard position. In his first year, Ray scored in double digits, averaging 13 points for the Knicks and 12 points for the Jets. He also played in four playoff series, three with New York and one for Baltimore.

It isn’t every day that high school students can have breakfast with a gold medal Olympian, and the Wheatley students were thrilled with the time spent with their fellow New Yorker.

The breakfast isn’t the only partnership with the Key Club and CSK. Among others have been ringing bells for the Salvation Army and serving pancakes at the Super Bowl Pancake Breakfast. But this was one that students will remember for a long time.