John Azary

John Azary
Personal information
Born (1929-10-14)October 14, 1929
New York City, New York
Died September 16, 1981(1981-09-16) (aged 51)
Washington, D.C.
Nationality American
Listed height 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)
Career information
High school Commerce (New York City, New York)
College Columbia (1948–1951)
NBA draft 1951 / Undrafted
Position Guard
Career highlights and awards

John Azary (October 14, 1929 – September 16, 1981)[1][2] was an American standout basketball player for Columbia College (now Columbia University) between 1948–49 and 1950–51.

Azary was born and raised in New York City.[3] At 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m), he played the guard position,[3] and when deciding on where to attend college, he chose to stay in the city to attend Columbia. At the time, college freshmen were not eligible to play varsity sports, so Azary's career actually began when he was a sophomore in 1948–49. In his first season he scored 298 points in 20 games, which gave him a new school record for a first season scoring average at 14.9 points per game.[3] This average surpassed Walt Budko's mark, who had graduated just prior to Azary's first year.[3]

Despite being "undersized", Azary was routinely given the top defensive assignments against much taller players. He even played against centers and used his aggressiveness and hustle to outplay them.[3] His head coach, Gordon Ridings, said of Azary, "I never saw a harder worker than John. He once stayed an hour after practice taking foul shots because he had missed two out of ten free throws in the previous night’s game."[3]

In three seasons as a Lion he scored 1,037 points.[4] His finest season came as senior in 1950–51. He captained Columbia as they rolled through the regular season undefeated, won the Eastern Intercollegiate League (modern day Ivy League) championship, and reached the Sweet 16 of the 1951 NCAA Tournament.[3] Azary was the recipient of the Haggerty Award, which has been given annually since 1935–36 to the top male collegiate basketball player in the New York City area.[3][4] He also capped his career with a second consecutive selection to the All-EIL First Team as well as NCAA All-American honors by various media outlets.[5]

After his collegiate career ended, the NBA's Boston Celtics chose him in that year's draft in the seventh round (66th overall).[6] He never played in the NBA;[6] instead, Azary played in the Eastern Professional Basketball League.[3]

Azary died of a heart attack on September 16, 1981, at age 51.[4]


  1. Department of Health, City of New York, Certificate of Birth No. 33343
  2. District of Columbia, Department of Human Resources, Certificate of Death
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 "John Azary – Basketball". Columbia University. 2008. Retrieved May 21, 2011.
  4. 1 2 3 "Obituary: John Azary". The New York Times. September 19, 1981. Retrieved May 21, 2011.
  5. "Men's Basketball All-EIL Eastern Intercollegiate League (1904–53)". Columbia University. March 30, 2011. Retrieved May 21, 2011 This source has several factual inaccuracies corrected in this article.. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  6. 1 2 "1951 NBA Draft". Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved May 21, 2011.
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