In honor of Joe Lemm, a 15-year veteran of the NYPD, Chris Mullin and St. John's joined together with WFAN's Craig Carton and Boomer Esiason to bring a star-studded celebrity game to Carnesecca Arena on Friday night.
"It's great," Mullin said pre-game. "Boomer and Craig do a phenomenal job in the community and obviously St. John's played a major part as well. I grew up in a family of cops and firemen so it's just natural to give back."
Lemm spent five years working on the Bronx Warrant Squad, earned the nickname "Superman" by his fellow police officers and was a technical sergeant in the U.S. Air Force. Four days before Christmas, Lemm, along with five other service members were killed in Afghanistan by a suicide bomber.
"On behalf of me and Craig, when we started our radio show nine years ago we knew the power of our microphone," former New York Jet and Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Esiason said. "This is about the NYPD tonight. Joe Lemm was a hero. He was an American hero. You can imagine what this loss means to his family and to the NYPD."
"It's going to be a great night," Carton said. "We get to celebrate Joe's memory but obviously it's a sad night too because Joe's not here. We're really not doing much. We are just honoring a man's life who left behind his wife and two kids for his country. There's not a greater sacrifice than that."
With his family watching on the court, Lemm was honored pre-game with a video tribute. His daughter also sang an emotional national anthem after the family received a rousing standing ovation.
On the court, the celebrity team defeated the NYPD squad, 66-61, thanks to superb playmaking by Doug Gottlieb and timely first half shooting from Mullin. Mike Smith led the NYPD team with 23 points, including three threes that helped their team make a 4th quarter run to tie the game at 61.
Aside from Mullin, Carton, Esiason and Gottlieb, former New York Giant running back Tiki Barber, former New York Giant defensive end Justin Tuck, tennis great John McEnroe, former Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Bill Cowher and New York Mets Hall of Famer and former Johnnie John Franco participated in the event.
St. John's legends Chris Mullin and John Franco talk strategy before tip-off pic.twitter.com/w5GqEghsQD— St. John's BBall (@StJohnsBBall) May 6, 2016
"This shows you the great side of New Yorkers," Mullin said. "Guys from all different sports are out here (celebrating Lemm's legacy). It's great to be here tonight."
St. John's coaches Greg St. Jean, Dru Anthrop and Joe Tartamela took the floor, while Mitch Richmond was an assistant for the celebrity team.
A majority of the St. John's roster was also in attendance, along with Amar Alibegovic and Ron Mvouika, to cheer on their coaches.
Coach Mullin introduces Federico Mussini to tennis legend John McEnroe. #SJUBB pic.twitter.com/gkzisq6Idw— St. John's BBall (@StJohnsBBall) May 6, 2016
The Joe Lemm Memorial Celebrity Game was a fantastic opportunity to bring the St. John's family together with some noteworthy New York celebrities. While the game was surprisingly dramatic down the stretch, there was nothing like honoring a New York hero.