SCHENECTADY — Antonio Delgado’s biography is so diverse, ranging from star student to businessman, hip-hop performer, attorney at law to political candidate.
He was a basketball player, too, on one of Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons’ best teams, a valuable and versatile 6-foot-4 forward who could shoot from deep, and muscle in the middle. He doesn’t mention any of that on the television commercial that is pushing his bid to be the Democratic representative for the state’s 19th Congressional District.
He’s modest that way.
“Basketball is the first thing I fell in love with,” said Delgado, a Rhinebeck resident who grew up in Schenectady. “That never goes away. I’ve always loved it and always will.”
Delgado was awfully good at it, before branching off and excelling in so many other areas. For his exploits in and away from the game, the 41-year-old married father of twin boys will be inducted into the Upstate New York Basketball Hall of Fame at the Hilton Hotel in Troy on Sunday.
“All Hall of Fame inductees are inducted on a body of work basis which includes what they do on and off the court,” UNY Basketball Hall of Fame Executive Director Rene LeRoux said. “In this way, character and integrity reaffirm each inductees electability.”
Delgado will be joined by a large cast that includes two-time state title-winning Scotia-Glenville coach Jim Giammattei and former Siena College star Scott Knapp. James Thomas, who won a state title with Schenectady before going to Texas and the NBA, is this year’s Sam Perkins Sportsmanship Award winner.
“I played both ends,” Delgado said. “I was one of five guys on a great team. This is something I didn’t see coming. I think it shows people another side of me.”
Delgado played two years at Colgate (his 1996 team led by Adonal Foyle made the NCAA tournament) and later had a semi-pro stint in Puerto Rico, but his fondest basketball memories are from his days with the Golden Knights.
Delgado, Antoni Wyche, Kashif Hameed and Joe Taylor were the key pieces for a Golden Knights team that in 1994 won the school’s first Section II championship and a regional game. Delgado collected 13 points and 13 rebounds when the Knights beat Schalmont 58-45 for the area Class B crown.
“We were really good,” Delgado said of his junior year, when NDBG went 21-5. “I remember how fun it was. We did everything together. It was a good time. I remember the gym was always packed. Standing room only. And the sports announcers coming in.”
Delgado averaged 13 points as a junior and over 16 as a senior when he earned Daily Gazette All-Area second-team laurels. He led the Golden Knights in 3-pointers both seasons, something few forwards did back then, and he did the dirty work, as well. His steal led to the go-ahead basket when ND-BG beat Mohonasen in the 1994 sectional semis. When the Golden Knights beat Schalmont, Wyche hit a couple 3s late in the third quarter and Delgado scored inside three times to begin the fourth in a game-breaking run.
“Those 3-pointers were key,” ND-BG coach Herb Crossman told the Gazette that night. “Then Delgado comes on like the Incredible Hulk.”
“I was a shooter,” Delgado said. “I was a bit stockier then. I had an inside game, too.”
Delgado said his experiences in basketball have served as a valuable tool as he’s trekked from Colgate where he earned a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford, to Harvard where he secured a law degree (and met his future wife Lacey), and into the music business, the field of law and then public service.
“Through basketball I learned discipline, work ethic, being competitive, the value of repetition, the value of being humble,” Delgado said. “When to perform certain roles. Think about it. Most of your life you’re trying to figure out how to play with others. It’s like being on a team.”
It was midway through his stay at Colgate when Delgado dove headfirst into campus activities and found his second passion. “It was philosophy,” he said. “I began to lean more toward academics. I wanted to study.”
Wyche, who played at Notre Dame, was among the UNY Basketball Hall of Fame’s inaugural class in 2009. Hameed, who played at Iona, was inducted the next year.
Upstate New York Basketball Hall of Fame
Rod Brooks (Notre Dame-Utica/Siena College); Robert Bostick (St. Peters/USAF); Shea Bromirski (Cambridge/Saint. Rose); Hal Cohen (Syracuse); Tim DeGregory (Saratoga Catholic/RPI); Antonio Delgado (Bishop Gibbons/Colgate/Harvard); Bob Furtune (Mechanicville/Lehigh); James Giammattei (Scotia-Glenville); Ted Hotaling (UAlbany/New Haven); Scott Knapp (Siena); Carl Luciano (Referee); Dan Tallman (Saratoga/Utica/Skidmore); Stan Van Gundy (NBA/Detroit); James Malone (Announcer/Saint Rose).
Barry Kramer Lifetime Achievement Award: Tom Konchalski. Love of the Game Award: Jimmer Fredette Family Foundation, Al and Kay Fredette. Sam Perkins Sportsmanship Award: James Thomas (Schenectady/Texas/NBA). John Cahill Community Award: Rich Johns (Saratoga/Act With Respect).
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story gave the wrong day for the the Hall of Fame ceremony. It is Sunday.