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Chillin' Wit' Jack McMahon, prominent defense lawyer

The son of an NBA champion, he went to bat for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell.

Defense attorney Jack McMahon Jr. and a closeup of the ring he wears everyday: His father's 1957-1958 NBA championship ring. (Bill Bender / Staff)
Defense attorney Jack McMahon Jr. and a closeup of the ring he wears everyday: His father's 1957-1958 NBA championship ring. (Bill Bender / Staff)Read more

JACK McMAHON JR. made a name for himself in Philadelphia decades ago, but the pugnacious defense lawyer spent his childhood following his father's NBA career around the country: Brooklyn, Rochester, St. Louis, Chicago, Cincinnati, San Diego.

"Like an Army brat, but a sports brat," McMahon says. "Whenever he got fired or traded, we moved."

McMahon's regular Sunday trip to Schuylkill River Dog Run has been rained out, so he's cooped up in his Arch Street penthouse condo with three dogs, a fantastic view of a dreary city, an affectionately sardonic daughter and an iPad and TV to monitor his NFL pool.

In better weather, it's a great setup for a Philly sports fan. From his roof deck - which describes as "really bodacious" - McMahon can watch the Phillies and Eagles on TV while keeping tabs on the airspace above the sports complex at Broad Street and Pattison Avenue.

"I can see the fireworks from here," says McMahon, whose former clients include abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell and Jimmy Battista, a conspirator with former NBA referee Tim Donaghy. His building, the former home of the old Belber Trunk & Bag Co., also housed the Daily News back in the day.

But what about that hardware on McMahon's finger? Oh, that's the NBA championship ring from when his father's St. Louis Hawks took down the Boston Celtics in 1958.

"I wear it every day," McMahon says.

The old man, who died in 1989, used to tap young Jack on the head with the ring to keep him in line when he misbehaved. McMahon Jr. returned the favor in 1987 when McMahon Sr. gave him the ring for Christmas.

"On Christmas morning, I walked by and popped the back of his head," McMahon laughed. "I said, 'Yeah, it doesn't feel so good, does it?' "

McMahon, 61, says he would wear the 1983 Sixers championship ring from when his late father was an assistant coach here. But it's just too clunky.

"That ring is so damn big it looks ridiculous," he says. "They just got bigger and bigger."

McMahon doesn't need that ring, though. He has something better: The memory of riding on the parade float in '83 with his father and 76ers legends like Billy Cunningham and Julius Erving. It was half a lifetime ago, when he was a young city prosecutor, and it seemed as if the whole city was cheering them on.

"It was the coolest thing," McMahon says. "I was waving and people were like, 'Who the hell is that guy?' But I was just waving to everybody."

- William Bender