East High School basketball coach Starling Bryant says he is planning to retire in a year or two, but even before he officially calls it a career, he was inducted Sunday into the New York State Basketball Hall of Fame.
In a ceremony at Cool Insuring Arena in Glens Falls, he was recognized for his 400-plus career wins, 14 Section VI titles, four New York State Public High School Athletic Association state championships and a Federation crown. He also has the most wins in Yale Cup history.
Bryant was initially selected as an inductee for the 2020 class, but the Covid-19 pandemic delayed his enshrinement.
“This feels pretty good,” Bryant said. “It’s a blessing that I’ve been able to work with so many great athletes and compete against a lot of great coaches. I think back to some that have passed away, and I think back to all the games I’ve been involved in, and it’s quite a memory.”
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Until Randolph won a state championship Saturday, Bryant held the honor of leading the section to its last boys state championship, as East won the Class D title in 2018.
For more than a quarter-century, Bryant has been a winner wherever he's gone.
“Longevity helps. I’ve been around longer than most,” Bryant said. “We’ve had some great coaches who never really garnered the recognition that they should’ve gotten. I feel pleased about that, to be an example for the city.
“I love what I do. It wasn’t a job or about the paycheck. The years have gone by so quickly, it feels like I just started, and was never about the money. I do this for the love out of my heart.”
Bryant began at Buffalo Traditional before it closed, and then continued at East. He led Traditional to a three-peat from 1999-2001, which included a Federation title.
Winning championships is the goal for every coach, and as Bryant plans to retire soon, he hopes his accomplishments inspire coaches to achieve more than he did.
“It means a lot, and it’s a legacy to be left behind, whether that’s Jason Rowe, Zaire Dorsey, and they can follow in those footsteps and do better,” Bryant said. “They have to do it on their own because there’s nothing I can do. I would never step foot or impede on anything or give any advice. They could do it on their own because they know what to do. All I can do is sit back and retire in a year or two and follow their careers.”
Rowe led Bishop Timon to the New York State Catholic High School Athletic Association Class A state championship game this season, while Dorsey led McKinley to its first sectional title since 2013, the year the Macks won a state championship.