by Barrett Seaman
The day was brilliantly clear—not unlike September 11, 2001, when Irvington’s Bobby Speisman died along with nearly 4,000 other victims of terrorism. He was one of the passengers onboard American Airlines Flight 77 that crashed into the Pentagon.
September 24, 2016 was a far happier occasion, as Speisman’s family, Mayor Brian Smith and other village officials, former stars of the New York Knicks and their Westchester development league affiliate gathered at Irvington’s Scenic Hudson Park to dedicate the spanking new Bobby Speisman Court, painted in the Knicks’ blue and orange team colors.
Former Knicks stars Larry Johnson and John Starks, along with Westchester Knicks players, put on a clinic for the many youngsters who will be the principal beneficiaries of the new court. In her remarks at the dedication, Speisman’s daughter Tara Allison said, “For my dad, basketball was more than a hobby; it was a full-blown obsession.”
Joel Fisher, Executive Vice President of Marquee Events and Operations for Madison Square Garden and long-time resident of the Village of Irvington, was a close friend of Speisman and one of those who played basketball with him on the Sunday before he died.
“One of the first thoughts I had was to build a court in Bobby’s honor,” he said at the ceremony. Fisher, along with other weekend players and friends as well as the Knicks organization and Chase Bank’s philanthropy arm, launched an effort to raise the $300,000 it took to refurbish and resurface the old court at the riverside park.
“Bobby Speisman was a special man,” said Joe Archino, the village’s Superintendent of Recreation and Parks. “He was a loyal friend, an amazing family man, and respected resident. The new and improved court will provide endless hours of opportunity to experience the courts, our beautiful park, and the majestic Hudson River.”