It’s been a busy week, but I can’t let it pass without writing about Frank Layden’s return to Niagara University. On Saturday, December 6th Niagara named the basketball floor in the Taps Gallagher Center after Frank and Barbara Layden prior to the game with Canisius. Earlier in the day Layden took part in what was called “The Legacy Panel” with Calvin Murphy, Hubie Brown and Philadelphia writer Dick Weiss and I had the pleasure of serving as moderator. It was a thrill and a half!

Calvin Murphy and the "Legacy Panel"

Calvin Murphy and the “Legacy Panel”

“The Legacy Panel” in the morning was planned as an opportunity for long-time NU fans to hear from three of the greatest names ever associated with the University and to ask questions. However, once Weiss, Brown and Murphy did their five minute opening statement Layden took the rest of the allotted time to tell his life story. It wasn’t how it was planned, but it was a rare treat to sit in the presence of one of the greatest story tellers in the history of professional sports.

Frank Layden’s spoke on how his mother passed away just six minutes after he was born, which was something I never knew. That meant Layden was raised by his father and that job was taken over by the Vincentian Priests of Niagara when Layden arrived on campus. Layden speaks of the Vincentians in humorous, but glowing terms to this day.

Calvin Murphy spoke about the fact he was angry when Niagara fired coach Jim Maloney after his sophomore season. Murphy had passed on scholarship offers from some 225 colleges to go to Niagara to play for Maloney and wanted to leave after his departure. That was until he was assured by his high school coach that Frank Layden would make him a winner. Murphy used his appearance at the event to publicly thank Layden for doing just that when he was a senior and Niagara went to the NCAA tournament.

Dick Weiss and Hubie Brown both praised Layden for being a great coach on top of everything else he did in the NBA as a front office guy. Brown also called him “the funniest man 24/7 that I have ever met.”

As moderator it was my job to move the program along and point out questions from the audience. The questions never materialized however as Layden’s monologue used up the full hour. No one seemed disappointed.

Frank Layden can make you laugh just saying hello and a couple of his gems were: “My Grandmother had twelve children, but there was a reason for that. She was deaf in one ear and when here and my Grandfather went to bed he would lean over and say in her bad ear, do you want to go to sleep or what? She would say, what? My Dad on the other hand only had three children because he read in the New York Times that every fourth child born in this world was Chinese and he couldn’t speak Chinese.”

To think that Frank Layden, Hubie Brown and the great Larry Costello were all a part of that great Niagara basketball tradition in the early 1950’s is remarkable. Costello alone won a NBA title as both a player and coach which is unique and Hubie Brown made the Basketball Hall of Fame as one of the greatest coaches and television commentators of all time.

In the end Frank Layden thanked Niagara University and the Vincentian fathers for helping him be the success he became in his life. Niagara University thanked Frank Layden by keeping his name alive on the very court where his career at NU started. I also thank Niagara for allowing me to be a part of a weekend that will long be remembered by all in attendance.

Bob Koshinski with Frank Layden

Bob Koshinski & Frank Layden

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