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Vince Boryla, 1930-2016

Mr. Denver Basketball.

That was Vince Boryla, who died last Sunday . . . in Denver. In an age when the loyalty of sports figures has virtually vanished, Vince Boryla was different. Not only as a basketball player, coach, president and general manager; and not only as a businessman. He was different because in an age of high tension — whether from terrorism or pressure to rise high professionally — Vince Boryla preserved an older virtue: the virtue of enjoying life, of enjoying people, of having fun, of looking forward to each day with a zest for life, within the city he loved and knew best.

The obituaries will tell you that Vince Boryla’s storied basketball career began at DU, where he became DU’s only All-American in basketball. He earned a gold medal at the 1948 Olympics and went on to a five-year stint with the New York Knicks in the NBA. In the 1980s he emerged as the president and general manager of the Denver Nuggets, and also held front office jobs with the Knicks and various ABA teams.

The Denver Post quoted Boryla as saying “the difference in the game between when I played and now is like night and day.” But it wasn’t just the game. For some years after his NBA career Vince Boryla ran a summer day camp for Denver kids and it was hard to tell who had more fun: the kids or Boryla. He was one of those classic really big men whose size did not frighten kids but endeared him to them.

Denver is the poorer for the loss of throwbacks to a different, kinder, less edgy era, of people like Vince Boryla, and much the richer for his having lived. May his memory be a blessing.

Copyright © 2016 by the Intermountain Jewish News


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