The sports world knew Lewis Katz as a one-time owner of the NBA's Nets and NHL's Devils. During his tenure, the Nets reached the NBA Finals twice and the Devils won the Stanley Cup. Unprecedented success on the court and on the ice. The media world knew Lewis Katz as the new owner of the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News. While still a college student at Temple, Katz worked as a leg man for Drew Pearson and helped the political columnist break a big investigative story.
We knew Lewis Katz, and his son Drew, as dear friends and supporters of our work.
"When I was starting ThePostGame, Lewis and Drew were the first people I reached out to," said David Katz (no relation), founder of ThePostGame. "They loved sports, loved media, had unparalleled business acumen and the deepest industry relationships. But most importantly, they were the most genuine, highest-caliber people you would ever hope to meet."
Bill Clinton and Bill Cosby were among the notable speakers at Katz's memorable service Wednesday in Philadelphia. As a successful businessman and philanthropist, Katz had a wide circle of famous friends.
But as the Philadelphia Inquirer noted, Katz made a difference in the lives of those he never knew:
"He was known for giving to his beloved Temple, but there are buildings across the Delaware Valley that were built by donations from Mr. Katz -- of which he never said a word. Only on Sunday, after his death, did friends tell stories of how he quietly wrote six-figure checks to build a playground or keep a Boys & Girls club from closing. He once anonymously paid for the funeral of a friend's parent, then refused to admit it or accept thanks."
Before Katz made the commencement speech at Temple last month, former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell sent him some famous quotes to consider using. Katz chose one from legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden:
"You can't live a perfect day unless you do something for someone who will never be able to thank you."
That was a perfect choice for Katz, Rendell said, because "he did hundreds of them."
In 2007, Katz was attending a meeting at The Clinton Foundation when he heard about how Andre Agassi had created a charter school in the poorest neighborhood of the tennis star's hometown, Las Vegas. That prompted Katz to do the same in his hometown, Camden, New Jersey.
"It was just a spontaneous moment," Clinton told the Inquirer on Sunday. "That guy did a lot with his heart."
Perhaps it is the collection of such moments that give real insight into Katz, beyond a resume, a spreadsheet or even a name on a building. David Carr, the media columnist of the New York Times, shared one in his tribute to Katz:
"One of the rituals of reporting tense conflicts in the business world is that sources often say reasonable things on the record and then go off the record to talk all kinds of smack about their opponents. But Mr. Katz only laughed when I tried to get him to take the bait, and wished me luck with my column."
The world lost a legend in Lewis Katz. But it gained a legacy that will be everlasting.
On behalf of ThePostGame, our thoughts and prayers go out to Drew, Melissa and the countless friends and family that Lewis touched. His memory will inspire all of us to live better lives and become better people.
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