Obituary: Arthur Kaminsky

, New York Law Journal

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Arthur Kaminsky
Arthur Kaminsky

When the U.S. ice hockey team took home gold in the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, the win was orchestrated—at least in part—by lawyer Arthur Kaminsky. A major college hockey fan, Kaminsky identified amateurs with talent and convinced them to delay signing professional contracts until after they had played for the U.S. national team.

At the time, the Soviet Union team had won every Olympic contest since 1954. The U.S. win became known as the "Miracle on Ice." And afterward, team coach Herb Brooks and nearly all the U.S. players became Kaminsky's clients.

Kaminsky, a leading sports agent, died on Dec. 5 at his Manhasset, L.I., home after battling cancer for 18 months. He was 66.

At one point, Kaminsky was an agent for more than one-third of the National Hockey League's players. His client roster included several sports announcers and TV news personalities. Keith Olbermann, Christine Amanpour, Jim Lampley, Rick Reilly and Al Michaels all sought his counsel.

"Athletes often dismiss super fans as wannabes but Art was too interesting to ignore. He took on life with a jock's intensity and competitiveness, wanting to know everything about everything," wrote former NHL goalie great Ken Dryden in an essay published Friday on SportsIllustrated.com.

Kaminsky was born in the Bronx and grew up in Jericho, L.I. After graduating from Cornell University, he earned his J.D. from Yale Law School and was admitted to the New York bar in 1974.

He worked on numerous political campaigns in his early career, including John Lindsay's unsuccessful bid for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1971 and George McGovern's failed presidential bid in 1972.

Kaminsky worked briefly as a lawyer for Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison. He and another Paul Weiss lawyer, Ronald Taft, left to form Taft & Kaminsky, which represented clients across the entertainment, music, sports and broadcasting industries. The two eventually amicably parted ways.

Kaminsky started one of the pioneering sports management firms, Athletes and Artists, where he built his roster of NHL and sports broadcaster clients. In the late 1990s, his firm merged with the Marquee Group, which later became SFX Entertainment. When Kaminsky left in 2000, he took a small group of clients with him.

Clients knew they could depend on Kaminsky because of his unwavering loyalty, said his wife Andrea Kaminsky.

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