Thomas Coman Konchalski
January 8, 1947 – February 8, 2021
Thomas Coman Konchalski was taken peacefully into the arms of Our Lord following a courageous battle with cancer. A New York City native, his life was devoted to basketball and the success of the young men who played the sport. As Tom put it, “I have tried to place basketball in the service of my Catholic faith.”
Tom was pre-deceased by his parents Stephen Konchalski and Marjorie (Coman) Konchalski and Aunt Jean Konchalski. He is survived by his brother Steve (Charlene) and sister Judy; nephews Chirstopher Konchalski (Vicky) and Jeff Ball, and nieces Julianne Konchalski-Santoso (Thomas) and Maria Konchalski; as well as grand-nephews Francis and Luther.
Tom grew up in Elmhurst, graduated from Archbishop Molloy High School in 1964 and Fordham University (Magna Cum Laude) in 1968. Tom’s close relationship with legendary Molloy coach Jack Curran was nurtured during those years. Following graduation he taught at St. Mel’s elementary school in Flushing for several years before he began scouting and writing with one of his mentors, Howard Garfinkel, at High School Basketball Illustrated (HSBI) in 1979. He purchased the publication and scouting service in 1984 and was the sole evaluator and writer until his retirement in 2020.
Tom was universally regarded as the most respected evaluator of high school basketball talent in the United States. HSBI published 16 issues each year, evaluating high school talent from Maine to West Virginia. Remarkably, he did this while never owning a driver’s license, cell phone or computer. Tom never evaluated a player without seeing him play with his own eyes – he sat up in the top row of stands by himself and took notes in thirteen categories on his yellow pad, never wanting to be distracted for fear of cheating the young players he was watching from a fair evaluation. Tom was responsible for literally thousands of young men receiving scholarships to college through the game of basketball. All this, while treating potential D-3 recruits with the same respect given to McDonald’s All-Americans.
Nicknamed “The Glider” for his ability to slip out of the gym unnoticed, he was known for his signature handshake which consisted of a firm grip held for a lengthy time and his laser-like eye to eye contact to ensure his, and your, full attention. Tom also was noted for his incredible memory that could recall details of events 50-60 years ago.
Tom’s friendship/partnership with Howie Garfinkel also led to his thirty-plus year relationship with the historic Five_Star Basketball Camp, a place he referred to as “basketball heaven” where he first identified a player named Mike Jordan.
Tom also had a little known, but none-the-less significant connection to the world of tennis, where his uncle John Coman was a chair umpire and member of the executive of the USTA, which led to Tom serving several years as a linesman at the US Open when it was held at the West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills. It is no coincidence that Tom’s residence for the last 30 years overlooked the hallowed grounds of those courts.
Just this December, Tom was nominated for induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in the “Contributors” category. To be selected with the greats of the game into the Hall, located in Springfield, MA, where the game was invented, would be the greatest honor anyone could receive in the game of basketball. But for Tom Konchalski, a daily communicant, it was his faith that informed his life. He used basketball to make a difference in the lives of the many people he touched. To quote Tom: “Basketball is my mistress, but my Catholic faith is my lawful wife.”
Regrettably, due to health department indoor gathering restrictions related to the ongoing pandemic and because of the church’s limited seating, Tom’s funeral Mass will be private.
The service is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 23, at 10:30 a.m. and will be available for live viewing via YouTube. The live-stream broadcast will be accessible at the following link: https://youtu.be/mY_nhrqkhgg
As mentioned previously, per Tom’s request, there won’t be a wake service or public viewing, nor will a eulogy be delivered at the funeral Mass.
One or more events will be scheduled for later this year to publicly celebrate Tom and his legacy.
In lieu of flowers the family would ask that you consider making a charitable donation.
For friends wishing to make a charitable donation in Tom’s honor, please look in the donation section of the obituary, there is a list of charities for your consideration:
Those wishing to send personal condolences to Tom’s family should direct their correspondence to Tom’s brother:
10 Nicholson Court
Antigonish, NS, Canada
Friends are also invited to share their thoughts, memories and photos of Tom on the “Tribute Wall” of this web page.
*Please highlight then copy and paste the hyperlink for the youtube service into your browser in order to join*
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Thomas Konchalski, please visit our floral store.
Missionaries of Charity
335 East 145 Street, Bronx NY 10451
Franciscan Bread for the Poor
144 West 32nd Street, New York NY 10001
Calvary Hospital/ The Calvary Fund
1740 Eastchester Road, Bronx NY 10461