BY DAVID RUSSELL
Boomer Esiason and Craig Carton of WFAN’s Boomer & Carton came to St. John’s for the Joe Lemm Memorial Celebrity Basketball Game on Friday. Detective Lemm was a 15-year veteran of the NYPD and a technical sergeant in the U.S. Air Force who was killed with five other members of his squad by a suicide bomber in Afghanistan last December.
“Joe Lemm was a hero,” Esiason said. “He was an American hero. Three tours overseas, 15-year veteran with the NYPD. He started on the pile down on 9/11 so you can imagine what this loss means to his family, means to the family of the NYPD, so when it came to Craig’s desk , it came to me, this is what I want to do.”
The celebrity team included St. John’s coach Chris Mullin, former Giants Tiki Barber and Justin Tuck, tennis legend John McEnroe, and former Met and St. John’s star John Franco. The NYPD team was coached by Super Bowl winning coach Bill Cowher.
The event meant a lot to Mullin who grew up in a family of cops and firefighters. “I was walking down 14th Street the other day in the city and bumped into a young lady police officer,” Mullin said. “I just said hello to her, how are you doing. The next day I got an email. Her mom works here. So we have a lot of St. John’s alumni in the police force. Like I said, my family. So it’s really natural. When you see these stories these are just regular hard working guys providing for their families and they’re protecting us.”
A video tribute was played for Lemm and his daughter, Brooke, sang the national anthem. His wife, Christine, and son, Ryan, were also introduced to the Carnesecca Arena crowd.
“The families of Detective Liu and Ramos are going to be here as well to support the Lemm family and that’s kind of the brotherhood and fraternity that cops have,” Carton said. “We’re really not doing much, we’re just honoring a man’s life who gave his life and left behind a wife and two kids for his country, and there’s no greater sacrifice than that. So we’re going to make sure people remember Joe the way he probably wanted to be remembered: as a great guy and a man who liked to play basketball with his buddies on the force.”
The celebrities beat the NYPD team 66-61 in an entertaining game. The NYPD erased a 13-point fourth quarter deficit as Mike Smith scored 14 of his 23 points in the final quarter. It was Mullin who hit the go-ahead free throws for the celebrity team.
Mullin had participated in the “True Blue” softball game at Yankee Stadium last May but the Hall of Famer joked that there was no advantage to participating in a basketball game. “Not that much actually,” Mullin said. “After 50, nothing feels good. The only thing that feels good is sleeping.”