Local Obituaries

Before the Heat, he owned Miami’s pro basketball team. Albert Rosman dies at 88

Dr. Albert Rosman (right) with his wife, the late Beverly Falk Rosman, at The Diplomat’s Starlight Room. The couple were married for 53 years.
Dr. Albert Rosman (right) with his wife, the late Beverly Falk Rosman, at The Diplomat’s Starlight Room. The couple were married for 53 years. Rosman family

Dr. Albert Rosman’s medical career led him into the ring with Muhammad Ali, saw his North Miami Beach family practice grow from pediatrics to geriatrics through its longevity, and helped turn the New Yorker into a full-fledged Floridian with a passion for local sports teams and the arts.

For Rosman, who died at 88 on July 1 at Aventura Hospital where he had been a member of its founding board, it all began with a game of stickball between children on a Bronx street.

Rosman, born Nov. 27, 1927, in the Bronx near Yankee Stadium (hence his fondness for sports), was playing when the ball sailed under a car that had started to back up. Rosman pulled his friend to safety.

“He knew, for him, that was a life-altering moment,” Rosman’s daughter Debra Rosman said. “He liked the feeling of saving a friend. That is where he got the idea to be a doctor.”

A bright boy, Rosman had skipped a grade and was about to skip another in high school but an unfortunate Donald Duck impression and a teacher who apparently wasn’t a fan of Disney waterfowls helped put the kibosh on that advancement.

The teacher announced homework. Rosman uttered an “oh phooey” exclamation in Donald’s voice. The teacher whirled around to ask who dared mimic the talking duck. Rosman copped to the offense.

“She said she would not skip him a grade because he was too ‘immature.’ He told us this story and as kids we thought it was the funniest thing we ever heard. But I’m sure it aggravated him,” his daughter said. “He had it in his head to graduate college quick, to make up for that year he felt was stolen from him.”

He liked the feeling of saving a friend. That is where he got the idea to be a doctor.

Debra Rosman on her father, Dr. Albert Rosman.

Rosman, a member of MENSA, graduated from high school at 16 and earned his pre-med degree at 18 from New York University. He earned a medical degree and a doctor of osteopathic medicine degree from Kirksville College of Osteophathic Medicine-A.T. Still University in Missouri in 1952.

A snowbird since the 1930s, Rosman settled in Miami Beach, was in the Coast Guard and Freemasons, and, in 1953, opened his family practice, Rosman Medical Clinic, in North Miami Beach. He practiced there for the next 55 years and saw some of his patients grow from children to adult under his care.

Rosman also incorporated his love of sports into his medical career. He became the Miami Beach Convention Center Boxing Commission’s fight doctor in the late-1960s, working the room alongside Ali’s fight doctor and cornerman Ferdie Pacheco and trainer Angelo Dundee.

Ali teased Rosman once in a hallway before a fight at the Convention Center. Spotting his opponent, Ali whispered in Rosman’s ear, “Hold me back, Doc, hold me back!”

Rosman loved to tell the story and, struggling with diabetes, watched Ali’s funeral on TV just a month before his own death.

“I can imagine how sad he must have felt,” Debra Rosman said. “That was a death of a generation, someone he admired.”

Years earlier, Rosman and Ali’s paths crossed again at a Miami Heat game. His daughter Debra, then the team’s senior director of marketing, worked alongside Ali’s twins Jamilla and Rasheda Ali, promotion assistants for the Heat. The Champ came to a game, remembered ‘Doc’ and shook his hand. “They came full circle, it is kind of nice,” Debra Rosman said.

The circle was wider yet. In 1968, Rosman joined his brothers-in-law Steven Falk and Sandy Rywell, along with other businessmen, to become part owner of the Miami Floridians, the first pro basketball team in South Florida. Rosman was also team physician.

The Miami Floridians played at the Miami Beach Convention Center as part of the American Basketball Association. By 1972, pro basketball was gone from the region until the Miami Heat bowed in 1988. Rosman sat courtside at the Heat’s inaugural game next to Miami Vice star Don Johnson and his then-wife Melanie Griffith.

The Heat, in a throwback promotion marketing campaign, paid tribute to the Floridians by wearing replicas of the Floridians uniforms in the 2005-06 and 2011-12 seasons. Rosman was interviewed for a halftime feature in 2006 and when the Heat won the NBA Championship, the team presented Rosman with a championship ring engraved: “Owner of the Miami Floridians.”

His daughter Debra called the ring “his pride and joy.”

Rosman is survived by his daughters Donna, Debra and Deanna Rosman and grandchildren Michael, Steven, Elana and Jessica. Services were held.

Howard Cohen: 305-376-3619, @HowardCohen