Joseph D. Carrabino, Jr. '84
Basketball - Hall of Fame Class of 2002
Harvard Athletic Achievements
Carrabino is Harvard's all-time leading scorer with 1,880 points and the first Harvard men's basketball player ever selected Ivy League Player of the Year and makes up one of only two athletes who have achieved the honor with the Crimson. He has the highest career scoring average with 18.4 points per game and he recorded a school record 708 field goals. Carrabino is in the top-15 on Harvard's career rebounding list with 6.1 rebounds per game and 636 total rebounds. He was a two-time first team All-Ivy selection and was the league's Rookie of the Year in 1980-81. He was awarded the Raymond O. Lavietes Most Valuable Player award in both 1984 and 1985. Joe is Harvard's only non-academic All-America selection in the past 65 years.
Remembering Harvard Athletics
Thank you Coach Roby for your kind words and thank you to the Varsity Club for this wonderful honor. It is fun to see so many great athletes from my era here tonight. I've enjoyed the opportunity to catch up with some of them after many years.
Receiving an award like this makes you think back to the people who have helped you achieve success. Basketball is a team sport, and it requires an entire support network to make an individual successful. Over my playing career, which began in the fourth grade, many people including my family, coaches, teammates and alumni helped me. Tonight I want to thank them.
I owe first an unpayable debt to my parents, who have been my biggest supporters. They attended all the games they could, made great sacrafices for me, and were always there when I needed them. They also demanded academic excellence, which not only prepared me for Harvard, but also for the rest of my adult life. I also would not be up here tonight without my brothers and sisters, who played a major role in my becoming a good athlete. Whether it is my brother Jim who dragged me along to play with him when I was young or my sister Christina who has always been my biggest fan.
The second set of thank yous goes to my coaches. Personal success requires being given an opportunity to excel, and I received that at each step of my career. In high school, I played at a top basketball program in Los Angeles and had coaches who believed in me and gave me a chance to show my skills at a very young age. At Harvard, the coaches also had confidence in me and made me a starter right away as a freshman. Without these opportunities and without coaches who believed in me, personal success was not possible. So tonight I want to thank Frank Ryan and Paul Muff, my high school coaches, who have both passed away and thus are not here tonight. My Harvard coaches McLaughlin, Roby, O'Connor and Diaz, for their belief in me and understanding of my great passion for the game and winning. Without their dedication to making me a better player, I would not have improved each year.
I next want to thank my teammates, who are also a huge reason why I'm standing up here tonight. My best memories of college are the time I spent with them, whether it be surviving hard practices, celebrating a big win or suffering through an agonizing loss. You learn a lot about people playing with them on the basketball court and on the long bus rides to places like Hanover, New Hampshire or Ithaca, New York in the middle of winter.
I would also like to thank two alumni - Ray Lavietes and Tom Stemberg - who have been the most important supporters of Harvard's basketball program for ovwer 20 years. Ray and Tom personally helped upgrade the program by organizing the building of the new basketball arena, rallying support on road trips by arranging receptions, and planning and financing our memorable foreign trip to Hungary and Egypt after my senior year. The highlights of that trip were a cocktail reception at the American Embassy in Budapest, a Fourth of July party at the American Embassy in Cairo and camel rides through the pyramids. These special memories wouldn't have happened if they didn't care so deeply about the program.
People often ask what I learned at Harvard and what value the school provided me. I tell them that Harvard prepares you for competing in the "real" world because you constantly interact with driven people who have very different interests and talents but who have the common goal of being the best in their field. Harvard also exposes you to many new opportunities and interests and provides the structure and support network to pursue them and grow as a person.
Basketball played an instrumental part in my personal development and life experiences, and it opened the door for me at Harvard. I have traveled to and lived in places I never would have experienced without basketball. I have lifelong friends who were teammates or who I met through basketball and with whom I have shared some great memories. Today as a parent I try to reinforce to my children all the great lessons sports taught me. They are probably tired of hearing me talk about "hard work" and "being a good teammate" but everyone here knows the importance of those words.
Thank you again for this honor and the chance to share my thoughts about the many people who helped me make it up to this podium tonight.