NBA Evaluator, Teacher and Coach Myron Rosenbaum Dies at 91

Myron Rosenbaum is sitting on a large inflatable animal and holding a sign that reads, "Need a hug? Take a seat!"
Myron Rosenbaum in 2016, on a trip to visit Lynn Rosenbaum | Courtesy of Lynn Rosenbaum

Physical education teacher, coach, referee and evaluator of NBA officials Myron Rosenbaum died on Sept. 14 at Beaumont in Bryn Mawr. He was 91.

Rosenbaum’s love of sports, particularly basketball, wove itself through his many interests and jobs. 

As the athletic director and basketball coach at Har Zion Temple in Penn Valley, Rosenbaum co-founded Har Zion Fun and Fitness Club with his wife Deena, where the two led athletic programming for children for 20 years, beginning in the 1950s.

The couple also taught physical education together at Overbrook High School, providing sex education for students, a rarity at the time. Rosenbaum also coached varsity tennis and scouted players for the school’s basketball team.

“He was really great with kids,” Deena Rosenbaum said. “Basketball, to him, was like an art. He was very adept at seeing who would be a good player and who wouldn’t. He worked at it, and he loved it.”

An avid referee, Rosenbaum knew the rules of the game and later became an evaluator for NBA officials and for Continental Basketball Association supervised officials, where he used his ample experience to scout referees and consult the leagues after games on which officials were making fair calls. He traveled across the East Coast with his wife from 1976-’81, watching dozens of games, mostly on weekends.

Rosenbaum’s love for the sport inspired his brother-in-law Jay Mandle to take interest in refereeing and talent scouting. On a trip to the Caribbean, Mandle, an economy professor at Colgate University, conducted a study on local economics and refereed on the side. He stumbled across a group of young men playing basketball and sent Rosenbaum a tape of one lanky young man.

Rosenbaum insisted that the young man be brought to the states, where using his connections, helped the athlete play high school ball at Cardinal O’Hara Catholic High in Springfield, college ball and later get drafted into the NBA. 

The kid, Adonal Foyle, was the eighth overall draft pick in the 1997 NBA draft. At the time, the center player became the longest tenured player for the Golden State Warriors and later played for the Orlando Magic and Memphis Grizzlies.

“If it hadn’t been for Myron, he never would have made it,” Deena Rosenbaum said.

All the while, Rosenbaum balanced his love of basketball with his first passion, his family. Like their parents, Rosenbaum’s three daughters pursued athletic interests.

Mindy Karro and Lynn Rosenbaum remember seeing their father in the bleachers at all of their gymnastic meets. In between routines, Myron Rosenbaum would turn on the small, portable television he brought along to catch whatever NBA game was on.

“It is a very funny memory of him sitting with that little portable TV, which allowed him to be involved and watch basketball wherever he went,” Karro said.

At home, Rosenbaum had a favored chair in the den where he would sit and watch games or old movies. Lynn Rosenberg remembers never being allowed to change the channel when her father was watching.

“That was where you knew you could find him,” she said.

Myron Rosenbaum is wearing a basketball uniform and is jumping in the air, hands outstretched over his head.
Myron Rosenbaum loved playing basketball, despite his short statue. | Courtesy of Lynn Rosenbaum

When he wasn’t watching games at home, Rosenbaum was playing poker. He went from an amateur basement poker player to ranking in the top ten at the World Series of Poker in 1988 and ‘89.

A lifelong Philadelphian, Rosenbaum was born in the city and graduated from Overbrook High School in 1949. Shaped by the early death of his mother, he became very close to Deena Rosenbaum’s family.

“When he married my mom, he found the family that he had never had in her family,” Lynn Rosenbaum said. “He just loved my mom’s parents and her brother.”

Rosenbaum’s college education at Temple University was interrupted by a two-year stint in the army. True to his athletic sensibilities, Rosenbaum played table tennis competitively there; he was a player, coach and high scorer on the Sapporo team in Japan during the Korean War. In 1953, he won the Special Armed Forces table tennis singles and doubles championship. 

His ample victories in other leagues throughout his life earned him the Jewish Basketball League Alumni Award in 2013.

Despite his adventurous spirit, Rosenbaum appreciated daily routine. Every Saturday night, the family would order food from Hymie’s or City Line Diner and Deli. He enjoyed picking up dessert for his family from local bakeries.

He showed his love for his family in other ways, too. One year, for their anniversary, Rosenbaum paid for a message on a billboard which could be seen through the shared window in he and Deena’s Overbrook High School office. The couple were married for 65 years.

“It was a great adventure,” Deena Rosenbaum said.

Rosenbaum is survived by his wife; daughters Stephanie Rosenbaum Thornley (Evan), Karro (Wayne) and Lynn Rosenbaum; and two grandchildren.

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