Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Colagreco Says Aloha to a Whole New World

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Colagreco Says Aloha to a Whole New World

Article excerpt

The surgical mask hid the doctor's face, but not his confusion.

He jerked back from the exam table, the arthroscope still in his hands, as if in mild shock.

Dr. James Parkes then pulled off his mask and asked Tony Colagreco a question. He already knew the answer.

"Did you ever have a serious something with this knee?" the Knicks' team doctor asked that day some 40 years ago.

It wasn't what Parkes found in the Fordham guard's knee that perplexed him. It was what he couldn't find.

"You have no anterior cruciate ligament. It's gone," Parkes told the sophomore after the exploratory procedure. "And you've got some seriously damaged cartilage now."

Just like that, it was over.

Colagreco's career all but ended on that table in Manhattan's Roosevelt Hospital. The former Leonia basketball star told his story over the phone as he stared out into the Pacific, absorbing another morning in paradise. Surfers rode a wave rolling in. The hypnotic rhythm of the surf carried along the beach.

Colagreco described the Hawaiian landscape as if giving play-by- play, then shifted the conversation back to the high school injury that eventually ended his career. He still occasionally suffers nightmares because of it. But as he spoke, his voice suddenly trailed off. Two humpback whales had breached the surface directly in front of him.

Time heals most wounds. Paradise takes care of the rest.

"This life ... I pinch myself," Colagreco said. "Sometimes I think I'm the luckiest guy in the world."

Once he had been a star at Leonia, scoring 1,746 points. Then he was off to Fordham, where he started as a freshman before his promising career ended.

One of Bergen County's best players in the mid-1970s, he serves as director of training for marketing and sales for a major hotel chain on the island of Kauai. He has lived there nine years after an extended vacation never quite ended in his self-described charmed life.

Colagreco, 57, moved from Southern California, where he operated restaurants and nightclubs on his own and with partners that included celebrity friends Mickey Rourke, Sylvester Stallone and Dolph Lundgren.

In his spare time, he writes screenplays. …

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