The Hollywood Reporter
Rockers, hoops on way
By Gregg Goldstein
New York Jewish Week
How The Jews ‘Invented’ Basketball
By Chuck Bennet
The Justice – Brandeis University Student Newspaper
FILM: Unveiling Jewish athletes’ lost past
By Charlie Gandelman
The Forward
Film Examines Court Jews Who Dominated Basketball
By Ethan Porter, Published November 26, 2004
Chicago Tribune
Lox, bagels and hoops
You think today’s pros carry the NBA? That’s nothing!
By Ron Grossman, Tribune staff reporter, Published July 16, 2003
Jewish Telegraph Agency
Film traces Jewish hoopsters, long before Magic or Michael
By Joe Berkofsky
Washington Jewish Week
Village Voice

David Vyorst was surprised to learn a few years ago that a Jewish guy, Knick Ossie Schectman, scored the first basket in the BAA, the precursor to the NBA. Now he’s using that first hoop in 1946 as the opening to his documentary film about Jews and basketball. Even though there have been exactly zero Jewish players in the NBA since Danny Schayes retired a few years ago, there’s a rich tradition for Vyorst to examine for his film, The First Basket, which is nearing completion.
Several of Schectman’s teammates were Jewish, as were many other players during the era of semi-professional basketball and the early years of the pro game. For Vyorst, a native of Long Island, basketball is more than just a game: “It’s part of the way the Jewish community became Americans.” After 1950-when the basketball color line was broken and Jews moved out to the suburbs in droves-the number of Jewish pro players declined. But in the pre-NBA days, one of the most successful teams was the SPHAs of the South Philadelphia Hebrew Association, which won several championships in the old American Basketball League of the ’30s and ’40s. It was a rough-and-tumble time. Players competed on two or three teams for $8 to $10 a game. Many Jewish players anglicized their names to avoid anti-Semitism. But the players Vyorst interviewed for the film, which he hopes to release next year, remember the era fondly. “Basketball was our religion,” says Hank Rosenstein, one of Schectman’s teammates. Jews also filled the lanes on “club squads”-the International Ladies Garment Workers Union and Macy’s both sponsored teams, Vyorst says. “If you live in a tenement on the Lower East Side,” he explains, “you’re not going to play polo.” – Peter Ephross