Philadelphia basketball is more than a game. It is a community, and on Wednesday morning this great community came together to celebrate the life of one of its own, longtime Philadelphia Daily News sportswriter Phil Jasner, who passed away Friday at the all-too-young age of 68.
It was a tribute to this great man to see the multitude of people who came out to pay their respects, including Philadelphia 76ers coach Doug Collins to longtime friend and Temple classmate Merrill Reese, two of the five speakers at the service.
I first met Phil when I was a lifeguard at Park City West apartment building during my college days. I could not tell then that he would go on to have such a storied career that would warrant his induction into five Halls of Fame. What I could tell, however, was that he had a passion for life and that was a theme that came across yesterday.
Although he did not cover college basketball during my tenure, it was easy to follow his career as he seemed to always have a story - or three - in the paper. Phil was a reporter that any coach would love to have on his beat.
He worked hard to find the story, and he always got it right. He was not cynical, and loved reporting on the good side of sports, which too often gets overshadowed.
He was far more than a reporter. He was a father and mentor to his son Andy, who has followed in his footsteps. A loving husband, who suffered through his wife's battle with Lupus. A grandfather. A friend.
Rabbi Max Hausen, who presided over the service held at the Rosenberg's Raphael-Sack in Jenkintown, put it best when he said. "Birth is a beginning. Death is a destination. Life is a journey."
Phil clearly lived his life to the fullest as evidenced by all of the countless lives he touched.