Volume 81, Number 15 | September 8 - 14, 2011
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Looking back at 9/11 • A special Villager supplement

Out of the Ashes

Former MVP hoopster’s team wins one for the Zipper

By Lincoln Anderson and Tequila Minsky

On Mon., Aug. 22, the Stephen Mulderry Men’s Unlimited League held its championship game at the Hamilton Fish basketball court on the Lower East Side. The tournament’s namesake was a 33-year-old equities trader and top player in the league who died in the World Trade Center attack.

This year, Mulderry’s team won the title game, taking home Stephen Mulderry jackets along with their trophies. The team’s name is Zip City, after Mulderry’s nickname — Zipper or Zip — that he earned as a guard on the University of Albany basketball team.

The young baller worked in the World Trade Center’s South Tower — the second to be hit, the first to collapse — where he was trapped on the 87th floor.

The New York Times, in its “Portraits of Grief” series, reported parts of Mulderry’s final phone conversations:

“We’ve tried everything,” he said in a call to his brother, Peter. “We tried to go up. We tried to get down. It’s just too hot and it’s too much smoke. We’ve found a conference room, and we found a phone that works. ... We’re just going to wait for the firemen to come get us. But it’s a long way for them to come, and the smoke’s real bad. Some people are talking about throwing the fire extinguisher through the window, but I know that will be the end of us. ...”

It was the decision of Bill Lynch, the tournament’s director, to rename it for Mulderry.

“I knew Stephen for about seven years where Stephen was part of two championship teams in 1995 and 2001,” Lynch said. “In Stephen’s last game, before he passed away, on Aug. 20, 2001, he scored 24 points and led his team to the championship. He was named the game MVP after that performance.

“What I remember about Mr. Mulderry was that he wasn’t just a basketball player, but also his warmth and kindness,” Lynch said. “An example of his kindness and the kind of person Stephen was came in the final game he played at Hamilton Fish Park, which was the last time I saw him alive. I presented him with the MVP award. He turned to me and said, ‘Give it to the summer youth who you feel worked the hardest and displayed the most as a great team player.’ It was a 7-foot trophy, which the summer youth was in shock to receive from Mr. Mulderry.”

Dave Zuklie is the only player still on the team from 10 years ago when Mulderry won the MVP.

“Steve was a tremendous competitor,” Zulkie said. “He had an infectiously good attitude and he loved basketball. He got better as he got older. He won the MVP in August 2001 — he was in his 30s.”

Zulkie and Mulderry, who was three years older, became friends at the University of Albany.

“He took me under his wing, and when I came to New York, I played in all the leagues he played in,” Zulkie recalled.

One of those leagues — where he had some of his finest moments on the court — will continue to honor his memory, on the Lower East Side.

“Stephen Mulderry was a great American,” Lynch said. “We still think and talk about him, and God bless the Mulderry family and friends.”

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