Those were the days. Maybe the game was at the Palestra, or in later years down the street at the old Civic Center.

“I remember him at the Spectrum," said one former La Salle staffer.

A friend recalls the tale about Rollie Massimino’s going after him. His wife remembers the time St. Joseph’s fans threw garbage on him.

There was a death notice in the paper this month.

Rudenstein, David S., age 64, a Philadelphia Criminal Defense Attorney and proud member of La Salle University Alumni.

(aka La Salle Screamer)

Those parentheses tell a story.

David Rudenstein lived a life of professional and personal accomplishment before dying April 15 after his kidneys failed, a victim of diabetes. But there was another side of this burly man, away from home and the courtroom. Sometimes the words inside the parentheses -- the oh, by the way stuff -- can tell you the most.

“I would hear him … even when it was crowded," said longtime Explorers coach Speedy Morris. “He would start with the La Salle chant -- unbelievable.”

“I was on the bench listening -- I wasn’t in the game, remember," said Speedy’s son Keith, a walk-on Explorers player. “He’d pick the opportune time, when the band stopped playing.”

“At one time, David would stand up, the cheerleaders would look to him -- he would start a chant," said Marie Rudenstein, who went to all the games with her husband, even though basketball wasn’t her thing. She doesn’t mind going by Mrs. Screamer.

“He was really loud," said Dave Robin, a Big Five fan who often sat near the Screamer at Palestra doubleheaders. “He would come up out of nowhere and do the La Salle cheers, get the fans riled up.”

He’d chant that chant -- WE FIGHT HARD, WE FIGHT WELL ... -- or he’d get on a referee. There was one Big Five coach who admitted once in an interview that the Screamer got under his skin. That went both ways.

“Oh, my God, he just detested Rollie Massimino," Mrs. Screamer said.

His friend Don Rutberg said Rudenstein would tell the story about how Massimino got so mad one time the Villanova coach made a move toward him during a game.

He could make fun of himself while giving an opposing player a hard time, his wife said. One team had a good ballplayer, but the guy wasn’t svelte.

“David stood up and yelled, ‘You and me, after the game, we’ll duke it out at Dunkin Donuts,' " Mrs. Screamer said.

Part of the show

In some ways, the Screamer represented a bygone era, where fans were part of the show, before piped-in music and blaring announcements became standard at every play stoppage.

It’s not all gone. Some personality has made it through. Would Drexel hoops be the same without Calvin Hicks screaming for defense every single possession?

Who is that dancing man at Villanova? Even if you’ve never met him, maybe you do a double take when you pass him at the Pavilion, because he spreads joy.

John at St. Joe’s, sitting across from the bench, isn’t aiming for joy. John has standards that referees don’t always meet and they get to hear about it from the third row.

If the Screamer had a spiritual heir in recent years at La Salle, maybe it was Bobby Johnson, the great sixth man of the Lionel “L Train” Simmons era, who was often the loudest voice inside Tom Gola Arena when his own son, B.J., starred for the Explorers.

Johnson said he didn’t notice the Screamer in the crowd back when he played. The whole atmosphere was pretty loud in those days. But Johnson did notice him in later years.

“Train would jokingly say, between me and the Screamer -- who would get thrown out of Gola first?”

Defense attorney David Rudenstein had a number of high-profile clients.
Defense attorney David Rudenstein had a number of high-profile clients.

Brother John Kane, who was in charge of game management for a time as a La Salle assistant athletic director, said he never actually got a complaint from a referee about the Screamer. They’d hear him, Kane said, but, as an accomplished attorney, he knew how to avoid crossing a line.

“He was a strategic screamer," Kane said. “Nobody is doing anything. The crowd’s too quiet. That’s when you would hear him.”

‘It seems like every La Salle game I ever covered, he would do his routine and [Associated Press writer] Jack Scheuer would either poke me or yell down a few seats, ‘Screamer!’ " said Inquirer writer Joe Juliano.

A celebrity for a specific crowd.

Mike Lynch didn’t go to La Salle, but he was the son of a class of ‘73 father, and a regular at games. As a kid, Lynch arrived at his own grandparents’ house. This man happened to be just leaving.

“I was speechless that the legend in the flesh was there," said Lynch, who kept adding memories as the years went on. “My favorite would probably be in what might have been Speedy’s final game at Gola. Screamer used his gifts to lead a spirited ‘Speedy’ chant.”

When the Screamer was in his prime, Lynch said, his presence almost could demand some intensity from the crowd.

“You couldn’t always understand every single word, but you could always hear it and feel the intensity," said Lynch, adding that he can still hear the Screamer’s voice perfectly.

His advocacy for La Salle was always noted and appreciated. Speedy Morris still has the note the Screamer sent him when La Salle let him go. Mrs. Screamer remembers following the team on the road a bit back in the day, coming down to breakfast in the hotel. “The team actually applauded him. That was in the Speedy years.”

His friend Rutberg, born on the exact same day, in school with Rudenstein from first through 12th grades, remembers his friend Duddy as a basketball player who had a little set shot.

“He would get a rebound and growl like an animal," Rutberg said. “We’d say, ‘Are you finished growling? Can you pass the ball?’ "

David Rudenstein (seated) with lifelong friends Don Rutberg (left) and Ira Stern.
Courtesy of Don Rutberg
David Rudenstein (seated) with lifelong friends Don Rutberg (left) and Ira Stern.

Tension release

As a criminal defense attorney, Rudenstein was known for taking on some big cases, from the Black Madam back to the Lex Street Massacre and Marie Noe. All made headlines.

He’d take court appointments. Most of his cases weren’t high-profile, though. He’d take the average guy, and was known for respecting his clients, and being affable in the courtroom.

He lost his father at age 15. He always wanted to be an attorney, was on the debate team at Northeast High. He’d been a Villanova fan growing up but visited La Salle and loved the place. A Jewish kid who liked how the Christian Brothers went about their business. He went on to Temple for law school.

His wife was his paralegal. Marie Rudenstein noted that her husband’s former girlfriend had actually given him the nickname of the La Salle Screamer. It stuck all those years.

“He loved it," Mrs. Screamer said.

“We usually sat farther up -- he wanted his voice to project," Mrs. Screamer added.

And he didn’t pick on everybody. Fran Dunphy was a La Salle grad. The Screamer left him alone. He actually liked John Chaney and Phil Martelli, his wife said, usually left them alone.

As his health declined, he did a lot of appellate work. “We filed about 60 briefs in the last year," his wife said.

“Being the Screamer is the way I release tension of the job," the Screamer once told the Bucks County Courier-Times. “The job is challenging, gut-wrenching, and life-altering. It permeates my entire being. I’m out there trying not to get the death penalty for people.”

His friend Ira Stern, who coached Northeast High basketball, remembers his friend Duddy standing up at a La Salle-St. Joe’s game, with three nuns in habits right in front of them. There was a cheer ... “Let’s go St. Joe ...”

The Screamer waited for a lull ... “If St. Joe’s always gotta go ... why don’t they stay in the bathroom?”

The nuns turned around.

“If looks could kill, he was a dead man,” Stern said.

Robin can remember Gene Banks coming back to his hometown with Duke. The Screamer didn’t leave Banks alone.

“Riding him the whole game, ‘La Salle didn’t want you,’ " Robin said.

If he was riding a ref, Kane might actually ask the official, that a problem?

“No, don’t worry about him," the ref would say.

Even the officials appreciate a little life in the building.

“Unrelenting decibels," Lynch said of the sound.

Sometimes you don’t know what’s missing until it’s gone for good. (RIP La Salle Screamer.)