Herb Turetzky attended the New Jersey Americans’ first-ever ABA game in October 1967 expecting to be just a spectator. He was eager to see forward Tony Jackson, a fellow Brownsville, Brooklyn, native, battle the Pittsburgh Pipers’ Connie Hawkins. Turetzky, a student at LIU Brooklyn, arrived early at the Teaneck Armory in his red ’64 Plymouth Fury convertible. Max Zaslofsky, the Americans’ coach and GM who had attended the same high school as Turetzky, greeted him as he walked in. “Herb, can you help us out and keep score of the game tonight?” Zaslofsky asked.
“Max, I’d love to,” he replied. “I’m here, so why not?”
Turetzky sat down at a wooden folding chair at half court and jotted down the lineups. “I’ve never left that seat since,” he says. “I’m still here and I’m still going.”
As the official scorer for the team now known as the Brooklyn Nets, Turetzky, 75, has worked 2,212 games through Jan. 3, a world record for pro basketball, including a streak of 1,465 straight. Throughout each game Turetzky’s head is on a swivel, following the ball. Using a Nets souvenir ballpoint pen, he records field goals, free throws made and missed, personal and technical fouls. He tracks timeouts and, of course, keeps a running summary of the score. A group of statisticians works alongside him, but when coaches and referees have questions, they look for Turetzky’s familiar face. “It puts you at ease as a referee, knowing that everything’s been handled,” says longtime ref Bob Delaney.
Turetzky—a former teacher who also owned a trophy company—has seen plenty in his 54 years with the Nets. After the New York Nets ran out the clock in the final game of the 1976 ABA Finals, Turetzky, wearing his bright-red scorer’s blazer with a Nets logo stitched onto the breast pocket, put the finishing touches on the score sheet, the last in ABA history, as fans stormed the floor.
As Turetzky walked toward the locker room, guard Brian Taylor ushered him into the team’s celebration. “Herb was always there for us,” Taylor says. “He was more than just the official scorekeeper. He was like our shrink.” Taylor grabbed Turetzky and pulled him into the shower, where Turetzky, still in his blazer and holding his attaché, was doused in champagne. It was there he saw star Julius Erving, reclining against a bathroom wall. “I’m just trying to relax and understand what we just did,” Dr. J told him.
That red blazer is currently in an 11-by-14-foot room in Turetzky’s penthouse apartment in Queens, part of a memorabilia collection that encapsulates the history of the franchise. There is a photograph signed by all the members of the original Americans team and autographed scorebooks from the Nets’ title runs of 1974 and ’76. He has three tickets that would have been for Game 7 of the ’76 Finals against the Nuggets had New York not closed out the series in six, autographed by Erving, Denver star David Thompson and both coaches.
There are signed jerseys and sneakers, a Jason Kidd matryoshka doll and a DVD of the 1994 film Above the Rim, in which Turetzky appears as an extra. “It’s Nets history,” says Turetzky’s wife of 50 years, Jane. “But it’s our family history as well. It’s our lives.”