Lennie Rosenbluth, the All-America forward who led a North Carolina team with a starting lineup of Latest Yorkers to an unbeaten season and an exhilarating victory over Wilt Chamberlain’s Kansas squad within the 1957 N.C.A.A. basketball tournament championship game, died on Saturday. He was 89.
His death was announced by North Carolina’s athletic department, which didn’t cite the cause or say where he died. He had been living in Chapel Hill, N.C., home to the university’s most important campus.
Rosenbluth, at 6 feet 5 inches, averaged 28 points per game within the 1956-57 season and beat out Chamberlain for the Helms Foundation College Basketball Player of the 12 months award. His Tar Heels went 32-0 and capped their season with a 54-53 triple-overtime victory over Kansas, with Rosenbluth scoring 20 points before fouling out late in regulation. Chamberlain, who went on to turn out to be considered one of the National Basketball Association’s most dominant players, was held to 23 points after averaging 30 throughout the regular season.
Within the semifinals, Rosenbluth hit two jump shots within the third time beyond regulation of North Carolina’s 74-70 victory over Michigan State and finished with 31 points.
A native of the Bronx, he played sparingly for the basketball team at James Monroe High School in that borough but made a powerful showing playing basketball at Catskill summer resort hotels, a magnet for leading Latest York metropolitan area players. He got here to the eye of Frank McGuire, who was named the North Carolina coach in 1953 after taking St. John’s, situated in Brooklyn on the time, to the N.C.A.A. title game.
Rosenbluth was within the vanguard of a player pipeline from Latest York to North Carolina orchestrated by McGuire.
“Basketball was not yet a very national sport, and the sport was still most of the time a city game, played best, it was believed, in Latest York,” David Halberstam wrote in The Latest York Times in 1999. “Nevertheless it was a nasty time for the faculty sport in Latest York. The purpose-fixing scandals of the early ’50s had destroyed the game locally.”
McGuire developed a North Carolina team that thrived in a largely Protestant region with a lineup that featured Rosenbluth, who was Jewish, and 4 Catholic teammates: Tommy Kearns, who had played highschool ball at St. Ann’s, in Brooklyn; Pete Brennan, from St. Augustine, also in Brooklyn; Joe Quigg, from St. Francis Prep, in Queens; and Bobby Cunningham, from All Hallows, within the Bronx.
Rosenbluth averaged 28 points and eight.6 rebounds a game within the Tar Heels’ 1956-57 regular season. His 2,047 profession points are essentially the most ever by a North Carolina player who appeared in just three seasons.
He was named a second-team All-American by The Associated Press and United Press International for the 1955-56 season, when he was a junior, and a “consensus” All-American for the 1956-57 championship season, meaning that a number of outlets agreed that he was among the many top five players in college basketball.
He was drafted by the Philadelphia Warriors because the sixth player chosen within the 1957 N.B.A. draft. However the Warriors already had the high-scoring Paul Arizin at small forward. Rosenbluth, his backup, averaged only 4.2 points a game in his two pro seasons.
Leonard Robert Rosenbluth was born on Jan. 22, 1933, a son of Jack and Rose Rosenbluth. His father worked in the tv manufacturing business.
After graduating from North Carolina and playing for the Warriors, Rosenbluth taught American history and coached basketball at a highschool in Wilson, N.C., east of Raleigh. In a comparison of sorts to his Tar Heel national championship team, he once quipped how “my first 12 months, we had an ideal season again, except we lost every game.”
Rosenbluth again taught history and coached highschool basketball in Florida for some 35 years. When his first wife, Helen (Oliver) Rosenbluth, generally known as Pat, was found to have cancer, they returned to Chapel Hill in order that she could possibly be treated within the University of North Carolina hospital system. She died in 2010. He married Dianne Stabler in 2011.
Rosenbluth had a daughter, Elizabeth; a son, Steven, and grandchildren from his first marriage. An inventory of survivors was not immediately available.
He was inducted into the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in Israel and the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame and Museum in Commack, N.Y., on Long Island.
In 2002, the Atlantic Coast Conference chosen Rosenbluth for its Fiftieth-anniversary basketball team and named him considered one of the 50 biggest athletes within the history of the conference. North Carolina retired his No. 10.
In the course of the 2006-2007 college basketball season, Michael Jordan and James Worthy, who played on the Tar Heel championship team of 1982, attended an event for North Carolina title teams. They thanked the players who brought North Carolina to national basketball prominence in 1957.
As Rosenbluth told it to The Latest York Times, “They were saying things like, ‘You guys got all of it going.’”