Legendary coach Maxwell “Bingo” Cole was about to step away from the New York City streetball sidelines after last summer. A call from Pro City CEO Ray Diaz changed that.
“It’s funny I spoke to a couple of players and told them last year was going to be my last coaching the Bingo All-Star’s,” the 49-year-old Cole said. “Ray Diaz called and said ‘Bing would you like to play in Pro City? We have a spot for you.’ I said, ‘Ray you just took me out of retirement. That has been my dream all this time to come and coach in Pro City.”
The berth in the top tournament in the city is one the “Godfather of Streetball” has been trying to get into for years and asked Diaz two other times to get in before this season.
“I always try to get in,” Cole said. “One thing about this tournament is its prestige and you have to have an invite. Ray has been loyal to his teams, so everybody has to wait their turn. I guess it was God’s blessing that it was my turn this year.”
Cole, a South Bronx native, started coaching AAU ball for Riverside Church when former Rice stars and Bronx natives Anthony Glover and Keydren Clark were 12-13 years old. That coaching was for fun to help the kids reach college and after that his career took off.
“I was just doing it for fun at one point then it just blew up,” Cole said.
Glover and Clark, both in their 30s now, have been regulars on his streetball teams are helping him adjust to his first season in Pro City.
“This is a different type of style of play,” Cole said. “This is actually a professional game. Long time 48 minutes. They help me through the difference between Pro City and streetball. Having them on my team is big for me right now.”
Clark, who has played in Pro City for five years with Big Apple Basketball, switched teams this season to play for his long time coach.
“To be in this tournament with Bingo and the Bingo All-Star’s playing with my friends I played with the last 8-10 years is a honor and something he deserves and we are going to do everything we can to get him a championship,” Clark said.
This season Bingo’s All-Star’s sit at 5-1 and are close to the top in the Pro City standings. Diaz is happy to have Cole as part of his league not and feel it only add to the prestige of playing in it.
“Bingo is a legendary coach in New York City basketball,” Diaz said. “He has a tremendous amount of experience. For us it was a tremendous opportunity to bring him in and elevate the quality of players in our league.”
Winning the league championship is one that will rank at top of his long list of accomplishments. Cole has won a Nike Tournament of Champions crown and also grabbed titles at Hoops in the Sun and Dyckman.
“It well rank number one on my list,” Cole said.
Cole went from retirement to coaching in the tournament of his dreams. He is only in one other tournament this season at EBC Rucker. Now that he is in Pro City retirement isn’t even a thought.
“Now I am in Pro City I don’t have a timetable,” Cole said. “I am here.”