Former C.W. Post head basketball coach Stan Kellner, right, who...

Former C.W. Post head basketball coach Stan Kellner, right, who became an ambassador for the sport through his multiple roles as basketball analyst and founder of the successful “Yes I Can” basketball camps died in Fort Pierce, Fla. of complications following a stroke. He was 77. Credit: Newsday / Audrey C. Tiernan, 1980

If you knew Stan Kellner, you have a story to share.

"We all have our moments with Stan," Jack Scalia, a former star high school athlete who played basketball for Kellner at Brentwood, wrote in an email after learning of Kellner's death last Sunday at age 77.

Scalia, who went on to a successful career as an actor, starring in the series "Dallas" among his many TV roles, offered his unforgettable moment. "We were upset by Bay Shore in the counties. He told me afterward that he lost the game. I said, 'You weren't on the court.' His reply stopped me.

" 'I prepared you to win the league, not the county . . . I won't do that again.'

"I didn't understand it until years later. Even after a loss, he was willing to hold himself accountable. Coach was still teaching. If there's a better teacher out there, I have not met him."

Mitch Kupchak would agree. The Lakers' general manager, who played for Kellner at Brentwood, starred at North Carolina and had a 10-year NBA career, called him "the most influential coach in my life. He was a mentor, but more importantly, a dear friend. Stan and his wife would travel with my parents to the NBA Finals. The most pride I get when I think of Coach was the relationship between his family and mine."

Kupchak and Scalia are friends who live near each other outside Los Angeles. "We get together a lot and we always wind up talking about coach Kellner," Kupchak said.

So do Kellner's former broadcast partners at Cablevision's old Long Island Sports Network, Barry Landers and Carl Reuter. Both recalled that Kellner had a sharp sense of humor and a knack for the timely practical joke.

"We were doing a Bridgehampton-Greenport game," Landers said. "Before the game, I was dribbling slowly and tossing in Rick Barry-style underhanded layups. I was winded and looked pooped. I didn't know they filmed it. Stan was behind that.

"So there's a replay of a Bridgehampton kid going 100 miles an hour down the court for a layup," Landers said, laughing warmly. "They slip in the tape of me going about two miles an hour and Stan says, 'There's Santa Claus! Where are the reindeer?' "

Reuter remembered a time when Kellner pointed a microphone at Hempstead coach Ted Adams' son and playfully asked the youngster about something that had just happened in the game. "The kid just looked at Stan and said, 'That's a silly question.' He couldn't have been more than 4 years old. Stan just broke up," Reuter said. "He was an absolute dream and pleasure to work with. So passionate about the game of hoops."

One of Kellner's closest friends, Marty Riger, had fond recollections of the era when both of them coached at Brentwood -- Riger at Ross and Kellner at Sonderling. "He was a great basketball coach with a great basketball mind,'' Riger said. "He always said: 'Basketball is an easy game if you concentrate on two things -- preventing the easy basket and scoring the easy basket.'

"For about six years, we'd both be in the playoffs. Our kids practicing in the gym. He rooted for me. I rooted for him. Great times. The best times imaginable."

Before Kellner retired to Florida, where he died after complications from a stroke, he and Riger would take long bicycle trips together on Long Island. "We were biking out in Greenport. A beautiful spring day," Riger said. "We just threw our bikes in the car and headed out East. We're riding past brooks and ponds and windmills. We stopped to take a drink. Just two old friends. He said, 'Rigs, are these days endless?' I said, "I hope so, Stan.' Of course, they were not."

But those "moments with Stan" live on.

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