The First Basket – The Team


A small, overweight, balding man with deep eyes and penchant for wearing bow ties, Gottlieb was described by Red Smith as “a wonderful little guy about the size and shape of a half-keg of beer.”[5]

Gottlieb organized, and played for, the South Philadelphia Hebrew Association teams in the 1920s.[4] Along with a few other sports promoters, he organized the Basketball Association of America, the league that later became the NBA.

Gottlieb coached the original Philadelphia Warriors, bought the team, and sent it to San Francisco in order to expand the game westward. He headed the NBA rules committee for 25 years.[3] When he died at age 81, he had been solely in charge of NBA scheduling for three decades.[3] In 1971, he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. “Gottlieb was about as important to the game of basketball as the basketball,” fellow Hall of Famer Harry Litwack said.[4]

Gottlieb took on many duties. He started teams and organized leagues. He was in charge of semipro baseball in Philadelphia, and made the schedule for the Negro National League. He also helped coordinate the overseas tours of the Harlem Globetrotters[6]

The NBA might have been able to get started without him, but it probably wouldn’t have survived. Sportswriter Mike Lupica wrote in a eulogy, “They used to joke that if he got hit by a car and died, the NBA died with him.”

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Known as “The Mogul,” Gottlieb is a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame. In 1918, Gottlieb, Chicky Passon, and Hughie Black, all recent high school graduates, organized an amateur team under the Young Men’s Hebrew Association (which provided the uniforms). After the YMHA withdrew its sponsorship in 1921, they found a home at the South Philadelphia Hebrew Association. The social club provided uniforms with the acronym SPHAs across the chest in Hebrew letters. It was the name the team would be forever known as, the Philadelphia Sphas. The Sphas won league titles in the Philadelphia League, the Eastern League, and the American Basketball League, primarily with Jewish players (the team has been inducted into the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame). By the late 1940s, Gottlieb was involved with a new franchise, the Philadelphia Warriors of the BAA, and sold the Sphas to Red Klotz in 1950.

In 1946, Gottlieb helped establish the BAA, the forerunner of the NBA, and later served as chairman of the NBA Rules Committee for 25 years. He was the NBA’s sole schedule maker for more than 30 years, and owned the San Francisco Warriors for 10 years. Eddie also helped organize overseas tours for the Harlem Globetrotters, and promoted professional doubleheaders. Upon his death, the New York Times wrote: “his mental powers were extraordinary and his memory almost faultless. He remembered the scores of games, the gate receipts, the atendance, and even the weather.” The NBA’s Rookie of the Year receives the Eddie Gottlieb Trophy.

Birth and Death Dates:
b. Sept. 15, 1898 – d. Dec. 7, 1979

Career Highlights:
After founding the Philadelphia Sphas in the late 1910s, Gottlieb became the force behind the Sphas, one of the greatest teams in early history of professional basketball. Under Gottlieb’s direction, and behind the play of great Jewish players such as Chicky Passon, and Davey Banks, the Sphas became a great barnstorming team, but also won three straight Philadelphia League titles from 1923-1925. Also in 1925-26, as part of a special series of games, the Sphas defeated both the Original Celtics and the New York Rens (both full teams have been inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame) and were proclaimed world champions. The Sphas are considered one of the great early professional teams, along with the Celtics, Rens, and Globetrotters.

When the Philadelphia League folded in 1926, the Sphas barnstormed until they joined the Eastern Pro League and added Cy Kaselman — they won three titles in four years (1929-1933) in the Eastern League before it too disbanded. After the Eastern League folded, Gottlieb revamped the Sphas and entered them in the newly-formed American Basketball League in 1933. In the early 1930s, Gottlieb built and promoted the club to bring out Jewish crowds and added stars Harry Litwack, Shikey Gotthoffer, and Moe Goldman. In the ABL, the Sphas were the dominate team and won 8 of 13 titles between 1933-1946. In the process, they had some of the greatest Jewish players in the history of the game playing for them.

In 1946, a new league called the Basketball Association of America was formed and the ABL ceased to be a major league. Gottlieb joined the new league as the coach of the Philadelphia Warriors and according to Leonard Koppett in his acclaimed history of the NBA’s early years, 24 Seconds To Shoot: “Gottlieb soon emerged as the most important single acquisition of the new league … the one man who had lifelong professional basketball experience and background.” In that first season, Gottlieb led the Warriors to the NBA title, defeating the Max Zaslofsky-led Chicago Stags, four games to one in the NBA Finals!

Gottlieb was instrumental in merging the Basketball Association of America with the National Basketball League to form the National Basketball Association. He coached the Philadelphia Warriors from 1947-1955, and purchased the team in 1952. After selling the team in 1962, for a then-record price of $850,000, Eddie remained with the team as general manager when they became the San Francisco Warriors. He remained with the team until 1964. Besides the Basketball Hall of Fame, Gottlieb is also enshrined in the South Philadelphia School Sports Hall of Fame, the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame, and the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.

Kiev, Ukraine

Career Dates:
Gottlieb played at the School of Pedagogy in 1916-1918. He played with the Philadelphia Sphas from 1918-1925.

Physical description:
5’8″, 175 pounds


(October 19, 1896 in New York, NY – February 12, 1995 in Bronx, New York) was one of the early pro basketball players and one of the game’s most important innovators.

Known for his exceptional ball-handling and his accurate shooting, Holman was a star player at New York University and an important part of the Original Celtics (no relation to the Boston Celtics). Also a gifted passer and excellent floor leader, Holman has been a prototype to later playmakers. Although he played pro basketball until 1930, he took over the head coaching position at the City College of New York in 1920. Known as Mr. Basketball, Holman guided CCNY to the so-called grand slam of college basketball, winning both the NCAA and NIT titles in 1950, a feat that has never been achieved since. Holman compiled a 421-190 record in 37 seasons at CCNY, retiring in 1960. In his later years, he lived and died at the Hebrew Home for the Aged in the Riverdale section of the Bronx

Holman also founded Camp Scatico in 1921 and ran the camp until he sold it to his niece and her husband in 1964.

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Known as “Mr. Basketball,” Holman is a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame. An early star of professional basketball, he played for the Original Celtics, the greatest of the early barnstorming teams. One of the game’s most accurate shooters, a terrific ball handler, and great floor leader who saw the entire court at once, Holman was named to the Associated Press’ “First Team of the Half-Century (1900-1950)” as the third greatest player of that era (behind George Mikan and Hank Luisetti). He is a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame, the New York City Basketball Hall of Fame, and the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.

While still playing, Nat began to coach basketball at the City College of New York. In 1950, he led the Beavers to titles in both the NCAA and NIT tournaments, the only time this double was ever accomplished. Red Holzman, Hall of Fame coach of the New York Knicks in the 1970s, played under Holman in the early 1940s and said, “He had a lot to do with the development of the game…He preached team basketball, passing the ball to the open man, moving without the ball, unselfishness, defense. He taught me a lot of things that I preached later on (coaching the Knicks to their only two NBA titles).”

Holman was always very conscious of being Jewish. He said of his days as a Celtic, “…during my career as a professional basketball player –especially when I was the only Jewish player on the Celtics (Davey Banks joined the team in 1926) — I was very much aware of the Jewish following that supported me in a number of cities on the circuit. While I always played at my very best, I tried even harder when I knew the Jewish community was rooting for me.”

In 1949, Holman was the first American coach to travel to Israel and teach Israelis how to play basketball. Holman also encouraged his former players to support Israel. Irwin Dambrot, the captain of the great 1950 CCNY team, said: “…He would call me and say ‘How are you doing, Irwin?’ I’d say, ‘I’m doing well’ and he’d say, ‘If you’re doing well, send $200 to Sports for Israel. We need the money.’ He raised millions for Sports for Israel.” From 1973-77, he was the President of the United States Committee Sports for Israel, sponsors of the U.S. Maccabiah Games Team.

Birth and Death Dates:
b. Oct 19, 1896 – d. Feb 12, 1995

Career Highlights:
As a player, Holman was one of the most important and influential early stars of professional basketball. Born on the lower East Side of New York City to Russian immigrant parents, Holman learned the game at the playgrounds and parks of his immigrant community. He quickly showed his skills and even in elementary school, Holman was a star, leading P.S. 62 to the city championship. He followed that up by leading Commerce High School to the city championship in the early 1910s. While playing at Savage School for Physical Education, Holman was a member of a number of professional teams in the late 1910s, but it was when he joined the great Original Celtics in 1921 that his own greatness was finally appreciated.

With his dazzling passing ability, extraordinary dribbling skills, and leadership qualities, Holman led the Celtics to the national title in 1921. The barnstorming Celtics (who are enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fall as a team) brought the pro game to national attention for the first time. The Celtics did belong to the American Basketball League (the first national league), but were disbanded because they so dominated the other teams. Holman and the Celtics are credited with many innovations, including the post and pivot play (Holman taught center Dutch Dehnert to step towards the pass, thus sealing his defender on his back: it is still a basic key to success in today’s game), zone defenses, and switching man-to-man defenses. Holman played in the ABL for Chicago and Syracuse after leaving the Celtics. He played professionally until 1930.

Holman began to coach CCNY in 1919, while he was still a player. He eventually coached CCNY for 37 seasons and compiled a 423-190 record. In 1950, he led City to an unprecedented achievement, winning both the NIT and NCAA tournaments in one season (they won both at Madison Square Garden within a 10-day period). Legendary LIU coach Clair Bee said: “No college team will ever duplicate this fabulous achievement.” Towards the end of the 1950 regular season, however, it looked like the CCNY basketball team would not be invited to any post-season tournament. After rising to No. 7 in the AP poll earlier in the year, CCNY went through a second-half slump, during which they lost to Canisius, Niagara, and Syracuse. Only by sweeping the so-called “subway series” among metropolitan New York schools (Manhattan and NYU) did they earn an invitation to the NIT. Many believed the unranked 17-5 City team was headed for an early exit.

In the first round of the 12-team NIT, City began its remarkable run by defeating 12th-ranked San Francisco, the defending NIT champions, 65-46. In the quarterfinals, CCNY caused their critics to take notice as they routed No. 3 Kentucky, the two-time defending NCAA champion, 89-50. It was the worse loss in Kentucky coach Adolph Rupp’s career, and the Kentucky state legislature passed a resolution calling for the capitol building’s flag to be flown at half mast! In the semis, City defeated No. 6 Duquesne, 62-52, earning the Beavers a trip to the NIT final and an invitation to the NCAA tournament the following week (unable to choose between CCNY, St. John’s and Duquesne, the selection committee decided to invite whichever advanced furthest in the NIT; thus, City got the invitation). In the NIT final, City defeated the top-ranked team in the nation, Bradley, 69-61. Holman pulled himself out of bed with a 103-degree fever to lead the Beavers to the title. The Cinderella CCNY team was the toast of New York; they were honored with a reception at City Hall two days later.

The following week, their remarkable run continued into the less-prestigious 8-team NCAA tournament. CCNY and Bradley were only the fifth and sixth teams to compete in both the NIT and NCAA. In 1949, Kentucky won the NCAA tourney, but was eliminated in the first round of the NIT; no team had ever won both tournaments in the same year. The City team defeated No. 2 Ohio State, 56-55, and No. 5 North Carolina State, 78-73 to earn a trip to the final, and a rematch with top-ranked Bradley. In the final game, City was leading by one with ten seconds remaining when Bradley’s leading scorer Gene Melchiorre drove for the go-ahead basket. Melchiorre collided with Irwin Dambrot, City’s captain, but no foul was called. Dambrot gathered the ball and threw a long pass to teammate Norm Mager for the final basket of City’s thrilling 71-68 victory. They accomplished what no team had ever done, winning both the NCAA and NIT tournaments.

Holman assembled a unique mixture of local New York talent. The 1950 City team was the first NCAA champion to have Black players in its starting line-up. The following year, however, disaster struck in a manner that broke Holman’s heart. A number of players from several New York area teams, including four CCNY regulars, were indicted in a point-shaving scandal that rocked the sport. Thirty-two players from CCNY, NYU, LIU, and other schools were involved. Although cleared of any wrongdoing, Holman was devastated by the incident, and CCNY subsequently de-emphasized the basketball program in 1953 (they had been banned from playing at the Garden). The players involved in the scandal were banned from ever playing in the NBA. In response, the NCAA doubled its field to 16 teams and outlawed dual participation in the two tournaments; there would never again be a two-tournament sweep.

New York City

Career Dates:
Holman played at the Savage School for Physical Education, and at New York University, 1916-1919. He played professionally from 1916-1930. Nat coached CCNY from 1919-1960.

Physical description:
5’11”, 165 pounds


Schectman began his playing career at Samuel J. Tilden High School in Brooklyn, New York City.

He later played both guard and forward at Long Island University, then a powerhouse under coach Clair Bee. He was a member of the undefeated 1939 NIT and National Championship team.

In 1941, he was named Converse first team All-America

After graduating LIU, Schectman joined Eddie Gottlieb‘s Philadelphia Sphas in the American Basketball League. The Sphas had started as a barnstorming team (their nickname stood for the South Philadelphia Hebrew Association), but they joined the ABL in 1933 and thereafter, dominated the league. The Sphas won the league championship in his second season (1942–43), and the following year, he finished second in the league in scoring with 199 points (10.5 average).

Schectman remained with the Sphas until 1946 (they won another championship in 1944–45), and then joined a new league called the Basketball Association of America (predecessor of the NBA).

On November 1, 1946, in the opening game of the fledgling Basketball Association of America (BAA), Ossie Schectman scored the opening basket for the New York Knickerbockers against the Toronto Huskies. Schectman and his teammates Sonny Hertzberg, Stan Stutz, Hank Rosenstein, Ralph Kaplowitz, Jake Weber, and Leo “Ace” Gottlieb went on to win the opening game 68–66 and finish the season with a 33–27 record. In 1949, the BAA became the National Basketball Association (NBA), and Schectman’s shot is considered the first basket in the NBA.[1]

He was a member of the original New York Knickerbockers in their inaugural Basketball Association of America season in 1946–47

He scored the first points in league history when the Knickerbockers played the first game in NBA history, against the Toronto Huskies[2]

In 1946–47 (his only year in the NBA), Schectman played in 54 games for the Knicks and was third in the league with 2.0 assists per game.

After that season, Schectman decided to abandon the NBA. He returned to the ABL, and in the 1947–48 season, he was named All-ABL first team while leading the Paterson Cresecents to the championship series.

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Oscar B. Schectman

Schectman was a member of the New York Knicks who scored the first-ever basket in the history of the NBA (the league was then known as the Basketball Association of America) on Nov. 1, 1946. The bucket was scored against the Toronto Huskies and the game was won by the Knicks 68-66. Ossie played his college ball at Long Island University, was a member of the 1939 National Championship team, and was inducted into the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 2001.

Birth and Death Dates:
b. March 30, 1919

Career Highlights:
In 1939, Schectman was a member of LIU’s undefeated NIT and national championship team. They went 21-0 in the regular season and defeated New Mexico A&M, Bradley, and Loyola (Illinois) in the NIT. Ossie averaged 4.7 points per game in the tournament. In 1940, LIU returned to the NIT with a record of 19-3 but lost 45-39 in the first round to DePaul; Schectman scored 10 points in the game. In 1941, Ossie was named Converse first team All-America. LIU won the NIT championship and finished the season 22-2; Schectman averaged 8.0 points per game in the NIT. On February 19, 2000, LIU established its Athletics Hall of Fame, and Schectman was among its inaugural class of 11 inductees. He is also a member of the New York City Basketball Hall of Fame.

After graduating LIU, Schectman joined Eddie Gottlieb’s Philadelphia Sphas in the American Basketball League. The Sphas had started as a barnstorming team (their nickname stood for the South Philadelphia Hebrew Association), but they joined the ABL in 1933 and thereafter, dominated the league. The Sphas won the league championship in Ossie’s second season (1942-43) and the following year, he finished second in the league in scoring with 199 points (10.5 average).

Schectman remained with the Sphas until 1946 (they won another championship in 1944-45) and then joined a new league called the Basketball Association of America (predecessor of the NBA). In 1946-47 (his only year in the NBA), Schectman played in 54 games for the New York Knicks and was third in the league with 2.0 assists per game. The Knicks finished the regular season with a record of 33-27 and lost to the eventual NBA champion Philadelphia Warriors in the semifinals, 2-0. After that season, Schectman decided to abandon the NBA. He returned to the ABL, and in the 1947-48 season, he was named All-ABL first team while leading the Paterson Cresecents to the championship series. They ended up losing 2-1 to Wilkes-Barre.

New Brunswick, New Jersey

Career Dates:
Schectman played both guard and forward at Long Island University between 1938-1941. He played in the ABL for the Philadelphia Sphas, from 1941-1946 and with Paterson (1947-48). He also played in the NBA for the New York Knicks in 1946-47.

Physical description:
6’1 1/2″, 175 pounds

Career Statistics:
In the NBA:
Games: 54
Points: 435
Points Per Game: 8.1


Adolph “Dolph” Schayes (born May 19, 1928) is a retired American professional basketball player and coach in the NBA. He was a member of the 1955 NBA champion Syracuse Nationals and a 12-time All-Star. Schayes played his entire career with the Nationals and their successor, the Philadelphia 76ers, from 1948 to 1964 in a Hall of Fame career.

Life and career

Schayes was born in New York, New York. The son of Romanian immigrant parents, his father, Carl was a truck driver for Consolidated laundries, and his mother, Tina was a housewife. Both were Romanian Jewish immigrants.[1] “Dolph” grew up on Davidson Avenue and 183rd Street, off Fordham.[2] He attended Creston Junior High School 79 and DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx, New York, and played his college basketball at New York University 1944-48. Although tall for his era at 6’8″, Schayes was especially known for his deadly, high-arcing, outside set-shot. Defenders who attempted to deny him the outside shot were confronted by his powerful drive to the basket. These two offensive weapons served him well, even as the NBA was transitioning into a league of jump-shooters. Early in Schayes’ career, he broke his right arm and played almost an entire season in a cast. Oddly, this injury became a seminal point in Schayes’ development: he learned to shoot with his off-hand, making him especially difficult to guard. He was one of the best–and the last–to use a two-handed set-shot with feet planted on the floor, before the game changed to one-handed jump shots.[3]

In the NBA, Schayes did not miss a single game from February 17, 1952 until December 26, 1961 (a streak of 706 games). Schayes led the NBA in rebounding (16.4 rpg) during 1950-51 season, and led the NBA in free throw percentage three times.[4] Dolph Schayes was a six time All-NBA First-Team honoree and was also selected to the All-NBA Second-Team six times.[4] Upon retirement in 1964, Schayes held the NBA records for career scoring (19,249 points) and games played (1,059), and in 1961 became the first in NBA history to 30,000 career total PRA (Points + Rebounds + Assists). In 1996, Schayes was selected as one of the 50 Greatest NBA players of all-time

When the Nationals moved to Philadelphia in 1963, Schayes was named player-coach. He retired after the season, but stayed on as coach for three more seasons. He was named NBA Coach of the Year in 1966. He was named the first coach of the Buffalo Braves in 1970, but resigned one game into his second season.

Schayes settled in Syracuse in 1948, and still makes his home there. When Larry Costello (a native of nearby Minoa and a teammate of Schayes) died in 2001, Schayes became the only remaining member of the Syracuse Nationals to still be living and working in Central New York.

He is the father of retired NBA journeymancenterDanny Schayes

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Adolph Schayes

Schayes, a Hall of Fame forward with the Syracuse Nationals, is considered one of the greatest players in the history of the NBA. He played in 12 straight All-Star games and led his team to the NBA title in 1955. Schayes was a member of the NBA 25th Anniversary All-Time Team (1970) and the NBA 50th Anniversary All-Time Team (1996). An outstanding shooter, he was legendary for his prowess on the foul line. Dolph perfected his free throw shooting by practicing with a 14-inch diameter hoop, which he fit inside a regulation 18-inch hoop. An “iron man” whose durability was as outstanding as his skills, Schayes played a league-record 10 consecutive NBA seasons without missing a game

Birth and Death Dates:
b. May 19, 1928

Career Highlights:
In 1945, Schayes began his basketball career when he enrolled at NYU because of the school’s aeronautical engineering program. He played on some of the great NYU teams with future NBA players Don Forman and Sid Tannenbaum. In 1945, Dolph was named All-Metropolitan as a freshman — he helped lead the Violets to the NCAA championship game (they lost to Oklahoma A&M, 49-45). The following year, Schayes was again named All-Met, but it was his senior season (1948) that grabbed the nation’s attention. That year, Dolph was named an All-American, won the Haggerty Trophy — symbolic of the top player in the New York/Metropolitan area — and set the single season scoring record at NYU with 356 points. The Violets finished the season 20-3, losing to St. Louis in the NIT championship game, 65-52. Schayes finished his NYU career with 815 points in 80 games.

After graduating as an honors student from NYU, Dolph was drafted by two professional teams — the New York Knicks of the Basketball Association of America, and the Syracuse Nationals of the more established NBL. Because the Nats offered more money, Schayes signed with them. He later said of his decision: “When I joined the Nats, I wasn’t as polished…playing regularly with Syracuse helped me gain experience and overcome many mistakes. The Nats gave me time to develop. New York probably could not have waited…I wouldn’t have had the closeness and camaraderie of the small town fans.”

Despite his own evaluation that he was unpolished, Schayes was the NBL Rookie of the Year in 1949 after averaging 12.8 points per game. The following season, the NBL folded and the Nats moved to the newly named NBA (the NBL and BAA combined). Dolph led Syracuse with 16.8 points per game as the Nats finished the regular season with a record of 51-13 — best in the league. The Nats swept through the playoffs to qualify for the NBA Finals, and a showdown with the George Mikan-led Minneapolis Lakers. Schayes and the Nationals could not quite overcome Mikan, and the Lakers defeated the Nats, 4-2, to win their second straight NBA title.

In 1953-54, Schayes led Syracuse in scoring (17.1) and rebounding (12.1). That year, they faced Mikan and the Lakers again in the NBA Finals, this time losing the series, 4-3. In 1954-55, the first season with the 24-second shot clock, Schayes again led the Nats in scoring (18.5) and rebounding (12.3) as they returned to the NBA Finals. In one of the most entertaining Finals series in NBA history, the Nats and the Fort Wayne Pistons battled back and forth to reach Game 7. In that final game, the Pistons had a 17 point first half lead, but because of the shot clock, could not stall. Syracuse staged a furious comeback. With a little over a minute remaining, Schayes hit two free throws to give the Nats a 91-90 lead. With only seconds remaining, Syracuse stole the ball to win the game 92-91. The Nats had won their first championship in dramatic fashion.

Although Syracuse never returned to the NBA Finals as the Nats — they became the Philadelphia 76ers in 1963 — Dolph remained one of the great players in the NBA for over a decade. Between 1950-1961, he was named All-NBA First or Second Team every year, and played in 12 consecutive All-Star games. Schayes was an annual mainstay among the league leaders in scoring, rebounding, and shooting. He led the league in free throw shooting in 1958 (.904) and 1962 (.897), and led the league in rebounding in 1951 (16.4). Dolph was also one of the most durable players in NBA history: between February 17, 1952 and December 26, 1961, he played in a record 706 consecutive regular season games (764 games, including playoffs). When he retired in 1964, Schayes was the NBA’s All-time leading scorer (19,249), had played more games than anyone else in NBA history (1,059), and was the NBA leader in free throws made (6,979) and attempted (8,273). He ended his storied career with an awesome .844 shooting percentage from the charity stripe.

During the 1963-64 season, Dolph was the player-coach of the 76ers (he played in only 24 games), before becoming strictly a coach from 1964-66. He was named NBA Coach of the Year in 1966, when he led the 76ers to a 55-25 record, the best in the NBA. For the next five years, from 1966-1970, Schayes served as supervisor of the NBA referees. He returned to coaching in 1970 for the Buffalo Braves, a new NBA franchise, but coached only through the opening game of his second season.

In 1977, Dolph coached the U.S. Maccabiah team, with son Danny Schayes playing, to an upset victory over the Israeli team in the championship game, 92-91. In 1991, Dolph coached the masters (35 years and over) team in Uruguay during the Pan-American Maccabi Games.

Schayes was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1973. He is also a member of the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, the New York Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, and the New York City Basketball Hall of Fame.

New York City

Career Dates:
Schayes played forward at New York University, 1944-48. He played forward for the Syracuse Nationals in the NBL in 1948-49, and in the NBA, 1949-63. He also played for the Philadelphia 76ers, 1963-64.

Physical description:
6’8″, 215 pounds

Career Statistics:
In the NBA:
Games: 1,059
Points: 19,249
Points Per Game: 18.2


Sidney “Sonny” Hertzberg (July 29, 1922 in Brooklyn, New York, USA – July 24, 2005 in Woodmere, New York) was a former pro basketball player. He was a member of the original New York Knickerbockers, playing for them in 1946/1947 and 1947/1948. He later became the leading scorer of the Boston Celtics in 1949/1950.

Hertzberg had a stellar career at City College, where he was a teammate of longtime Knicks coach Red Holzman. The 5-foot-9 guard scored a team-high 14 points in the Knicks’ first home game in 1946. He later was a scout and assistant coach for the Knicks. After ending his basketball career at the age of 28, Hertzberg went on to become managing director of Bear Stearns, an investment banking and brokerage firm.

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Sidney Hertzberg

A legend of the game, Sonny Hertzberg was a member of the New York Knicks in the first season of the Basketball Association of America (the predecessor of the NBA). The Knicks’ first captain and a slick two-handed set-shooter, Hertzberg died in July 2005 at the age of 82, only four days shy of his 83rd birthday. Teammate and fellow NBA alumnus,Ralph Kaplowitz said upon Hertzberg’s death, “He was a top guy, no question. He never gave anybody any trouble. He was always helpful on the court. We’ve been friends since 1945 and would talk every day.” Carl Braun, a member of the 1947 Knicks team, said, “The thing I remember is that he was a very fine person. He had a good set shot and adequate defense, but more important than ball-playing, he was a gentleman.”

Hertzberg often spoke of his days with the Knicks and said, “Looking back, I’m still thrilled that I was at that first training camp and that I signed with the Knicks. I wanted to play in New York. It was a new major league. It was a game of speed with no 24-second clock when we played. I didn’t know if it was going to be a full-time thing.”

While the Knicks were getting ready for the opener, college basketball still dominated New York, where teams like CCNY (City College of New York), LIU (Long Island University, and NYU (New York University) were revered. The Knicks gained newspaper notoriety only after they had success scrimmaging the local college teams. With this new-found respect, the Knicks took the train for Toronto to play in what is considered the first game in NBA history. “It was interesting playing before Canadians,” recalled Hertzberg. “The fans really didn’t understand the game at first. To them, a jump ball was like a face-off in hockey. But they started to catch on and seemed to like the action.” The Knicks won the game, 68-66.

After his pro career, Sonny worked as a scout and assistant coach for the Knicks, then became an analyst for NBC and WPIX television stations. He also worked as Managing Director of Bear Stearns, Inc., a leading New York brokerage firm and watched pro games whenever he could. “I love the sport. Always have,” he told Frederick C. Klein of The Wall Street Journal in an interview on January 12, 2001. “If there’s ever been a better one, it’s escaped my notice.” He regards today’s game with mixed feelings. “Players today get to the basket better than we did, but we took better care of the ball,” he said. “I think we moved it better, too. Before the 24-second clock came in (in 1954), it wasn’t uncommon for everyone on the team to handle the ball before a shot was taken. Today, there’s one or two touches, and up it goes.”

Into his 80’s, Hertzberg maintained his ties to the game and counselled NBAers on investing and on their post-basketball careers. He was also often asked for autographs, “by youngsters sometimes,” he told Klein. “But when that happens I always look around to see where the kid’s grandfather is hiding.”

Birth and Death Dates:
b. July 29, 1922 – d. July 25, 2005

Career Highlights:
An all-city star at Samuel J. Tilden High in Brooklyn, New York, Sonny played for the great Nat Holman at City College of New York in the early 1940s. After spending the 1940 season on the City College JV, Sonny started and starred for the Beavers in 1941. Described by Holman as “one of the five best players I ever coached,” Hertzberg teamed with classmate Red Holzman to lead the 1940-41 CCNY team to a record of 15-4 regular season record, including a 47-43 victory over arch-rival NYU in the final game of the season. The victory gave CCNY the mythological metropolitan title and propelled them in the NIT (National Invitational Tournament), the most prestigious postseason tournament at the time.

In the NIT, Hertzberg helped lead the Beavers defeat Virginia in the first round by a score of 64-35. In the semifinals, Hertzberg was held to three points as CCNY lost to Ohio, 45-43. He then scored two points in the third-place game against Seton Hall, which City won 42-27.

During the 1941-42 season, Hertzberg was outstanding as he was named first team All-Metropolitan and finished 18th in the Met area in scoring with 143 points. That season, he led the Beavers to a 16-2 record and a second consecutive appearance in the NIT. In the first round, he was held to eight points as the Beavers were upset by Western Kentucky, 49-46. Following the NIT, CCNY played city rival LIU (Long Island University) in an exhibition game and won 42-34.

After graduating, Hertzberg turned professional and played in the only major pro league in the East at the time, the ABL (American Basketball League). A semi-pro league, the ABL had some of the top players in the country and the competition was fierce. For four seasons, Sonny played for the New York team (called the Jewels, Americans, and Gothams during his tenure with the squad) and was the team’s captain and high scorer. He once scored 38 points in a 40-minute game — this in an era when teams averaged slightly more than 40 points for an entire game! During the 1943-44 season, he led the team in scoring with 9.2 points per game; two years later, he again was the leading scorer with 11.8 points per game.

Prior to the 1946-47 season, Hertzberg joined a new franchise, the New York Knicks, in a new league called the BAA (Basketball Association of America). The precursor of the NBA, the BAA was the first attempt at a national league and the New York franchise stocked itself with homegrown talent like Hertzberg who fans knew from his exploits at CCNY. The team captain that first season, he helped the Knicks finish with a record of 33-27. In the playoffs, they lost in the semifinals to the eventual NBA champion Philadelphia Warriors, 2-0.

After being sent to the Washington Capitols the following season, Sonny played in all 60 regular season games, averaged 7.4 points per game, and helped the Capitols win the Eastern Division in 1948-49, with a record of 38-22. In the NBA Finals that year, Sonny and the Capitols lost to the George Mikan-led Minneapolis Lakers, 4-2. In 1949-50, Sonny joined the lowly Boston Celtics, which finished last in the Eastern Division with a record of 22-46. In 1950-51, Hertzberg finished tenth in the league in assists per game (3.8 — a career high), and seventh in free throw percentage (223-270 for 82.3%). The Celtics vastly improved and finished second in the Eastern Division with a record of 39-30. They were swept in the Conference semifinals by the New York Knicks, 2-0. Hertzberg retired following the 1950-51 season after playing in 293 career NBA games.

Sonny is a member of the New York City Basketball Hall of Fame, the Old-Timers Basketball Hall of Fame, the City College Hall of Fame, and the National Jewish-American Hall of Fame.

New York City

Career Dates:
Sonny played guard at CCNY, 1940-1942. He played with New York in the ABL, 1943-1946. He played in the NBA with the New York Knicks in 1946-47, the Washington Capitols in 1947-49, and the Boston Celtics in 1949-51.

Physical description:
6’0″, 175 pounds


Ralph Kaplowitz (May 18, 1919 – February 2, 2009) was an American basketball player. Kaplowitz played in the first two seasons of the Basketball Association of America (BAA), now known as theNational Basketball Association (NBA), and was at the time of his death the oldest living person to have played for the New York Knicks

Kaplowitz attended DeWitt Clinton High School and led his team to a PSAL championship. After graduating from Clinton, he attended New York University. He joined NYU’s varsity team as a sophomore in 1939-40, was the team’s second-leading scorer with 183 points, and was named to the Collier’s Magazine All-America first team. In his junior year, Kaplowitz did lead NYU in scoring, and to a winning record of 13-6. At the start of his senior year he was named team captain, but was drafted into the U.S. Army as an aviation cadet. After his basketball career, Ralph went on to thrive in other athletics. He is noted as winning multiple club championships at Old Westbury Golf and Country Club.

After the end of World War II, Kaplowitz was released from the Army, and he returned to NYU to finish his degree in education. After that, he signed with the Philadelphia Sphas (South Philadelphia Hebrew Association) of the American Basketball League, and averaged 10.6 points per game in the latter end of the 1945-46 season, facing the Baltimore Bullets in the championship round, but losing.

In August 1946, Kaplowitz received a telegram from the New York Knicks owner Ned Irish which read “Interested in having you play with New York professional basketball team next season. Please telephone me.” Kaplowitz did join the Knicks, signing a one-year contract for $6,500.[1]

On November 1, 1946 in Toronto, Canada, the 27-year-old Kaplowitz appeared in the starting lineup of the very first game of NBA/BAA history, alongside fellow Knicks Ossie Schectman, Sonny HertzbergJake Weber, and Leo Gottlieb. Together, they beat the Toronto Huskies 68-66.

Kaplowitz and his teammates, many of them Jews, recall an increased level of anti-Semitic heckling by fans at Madison Square Garden as the season progressed. Halfway through the season, the Knicks traded Kaplowitz to the Philadelphia Warriors, which were then coached and owned by Eddie Gottlieb. In a 1997 interview of the team, Hertzberg said that by the end of the 1946-47 season, he was only Jewish player left on the Knicks’ roster, but even he was traded during the league’s first off-season break.[1][2]

Kaplowitz played the second half of the 1946-47 season for the Warriors, who Kaplowitz’ former team the Knicks in the playoffs, and swept that series to advance to the Finals. Then, they beat Max Zaslofsky and the Chicago Stags (4-1 series) to claim the first BAA championship.

In the 1947-48 season, the Warriors advanced to the Finals again, but Kaplowitz was once again beaten by Baltimore, in the Bullets’ first season as a BAA team. After losing this series, Kaplowitz retired from the BAA after only two seasons, returning once again to the ABL, where he would play two seasons for the Hartford Hurricanes and one for the Bridgeport Roesslers

Jews In Sports Online

One of the greatest Jewish players in the history of basketball, Kaplowitz played in the NBA’s inaugural contest when the league began in 1946. Ralph was the younger brother of Long Island University’s All-America, Dan Kaplowitz. A collegian at New York University, Ralph was an All-America his first varsity season, and was then named captain of the NYU basketball team for the 1941-42 campaign. Prior to that season, Kaplowitz served in the U.S. Army. During the war, he led the Chanute Field team that went undefeated in a league of service teams.

Discharged in 1946, Ralph returned to NYU and graduated with a degree in education. Kaplowitz then played professionally in the American Basketball League before joining the New York Knicks in 1946 — the year the Basketball Association of America, which became the NBA, was formed. Ralph played in the league’s first-ever game in November, 1946, won by the Knicks, 68-66. Later that season, he moved to the Philadelphia Warriors and was a member of the club when they captured the league’s first Championship.

Birth and Death Dates:
b. May 18, 1919

Career Highlights:
Before becoming a star in the NBA, Kaplowitz led DeWitt Clinton High School to the New York PSAL championship, earning himself a spot in Clinton’s Hall of Fame. Kaplowitz attended NYU and joined the Violet varsity in 1939-40 as a sophomore, starting at guard. Early in the season, Ralph displayed his on-court potential, and was billed by Hall of Fame promoter Ned Irish as “the best I’ve ever seen.”

That year, Kaplowitz finished second on the team in scoring with 183 points. Ralph was named Collier’s Magazine first team All-America, and second team All-Metropolitan. Along with first team All-Met selections, senior captain Bobby Lewis and junior guard Ben Auerbach, Kaplowitz helped NYU win its first 18 games of the season. Considered one of the top teams in the country (official polls did not begin until the late 1940s), NYU entered the season finale against archrival CCNY (City College of New York) with confidence.

In the final game, the Violets were shocked, 36-24, in front of more than 15,000 fans at Madison Square Garden. Following the loss, NYU was still expected to play in a postseason tournament on the strength of its 18-1 record, but the school’s athletic board declined bids to either the NIT or NCAA tournaments. The Board justified its decision by referring to the strenuous schedule of the team, and the added pressure placed on the players during the winning streak. (New York Times, March 7, 1940)

The following season (1941), Kaplowitz returned as a starting guard and was the team’s leading scorer with 193 points (seventh in the Met area). Named first team All-Metropolitan by the New York City Basketball Writers, Kaplowitz helped lead NYU to a record of 13-6, but the Violets were not invited to play in the postseason. In 1941-42, Ralph was named team captain; but he was drafted into the U.S. Army as an Aviation Cadet. He returned to NYU after the war to finish his degree, then turned to professional basketball.

In 1946, Ralph signed with the Philadelphia Sphas (the nickname stood for the South Philadelphia Hebrew Association) of the American Basketball League. Kaplowitz played 20 games during the 1945-46 season. He scored 212 points, and had the third highest scoring average on the team at 10.6. The Sphas finished second that year with a 21-13 record, but lost the championship to the Baltimore Bullets.

The following season, Kaplowitz joined the New York Knicks of the newly formed Basketball Association of America. The BAA — which became the NBA — had plans for a national league (pro leagues in the 1930s through 1946 were regional, rather than national). While few anticipated the league’s future as a major international attraction, the BAA was able to draw many of the best players because its teams were located in major cities — including Washington, Boston, Chicago, and Philadelphia. At this time, college basketball was still dominated by New York City teams, and Knicks owner Ned Irish wanted to take advantage of the popularity of former college stars from the Metropolitan area to stock the Knicks. Kaplowitz was one of the most celebrated and respected players in New York in the 1940s, and was therefore a particularly attractive choice for Irish to target.

Kaplowitz began the 1946-47 season with the Knicks (along with four other Jewish players); but midway through the season, he was sold to the Philadelphia Warriors (coached and owned by Sphas founder Eddie Gottlieb). Ralph played in a total of 57 games that year, averaging 7.1 points per game. The Warriors finished the season with a record of 35-25 and swept the Knicks in the semifinals, 2-0, to reach the Finals. The Warriors then defeated the Max Zaslofsky-led Chicago Stags, 4-1, to win the first league championship. [A side note to the Finals: the first two games were played in Philadelphia and then the series moved to Chicago. The Warriors’ plane began to smoke after takeoff, and the team had to return to the airport to change planes, causing one player to immediately retire! The rest of the team flew to Chicago to become champions.]

In 1947-48, Kaplowitz again played for the Warriors, who finished first in the Eastern Division with a record of 27-21 and returned to the Finals, where they lost to the Baltimore Bullets, 4-2. Following the 1947-48 season, Kaplowitz retired from the BAA, but his basketball career was not over. In 1948-49, he returned to the ABL with the Hartford Hurricanes and finished eighth in the league in scoring (first on the team) with 570 points, a 13.9 average. Still, the Hurricanes finished 13-26 and missed the playoffs. Kaplowitz played two more seasons in the ABL, leading his team in scoring and leading the league in free-throw percentage in both years. Ralph’s final season was 1950-51. He played in 30 games (averaging 12.4 points per game) for the Bridgeport Aer-A-Sols, which finished 17-15 and in fourth place.

In October, 2000, Kaplowitz was inducted into the New York City Basketball Hall of Fame. He was already a member of both the NYU and Jewish Sports Halls of Fame. In 1998, Ralph and five other Jewish players (Sonny Hertzberg, Nat Militzok, Leo Gottlieb, Hank Rosenstein, and Ossie Schectman) were inducted into the Jewish Sports Hall of Fame (located in Commack, New York) as members of the 1946-47 New York Knicks, one of the original teams in the NBA.

Bronx, New York

Career Dates:
Kaplowitz played guard at NYU from 1939-41. He then played professionally in the ABL and BAA (NBA) with the Philadelphia Sphas in 1945-46, the New York Knicks in 1946-47; for the Philadelphia Warriors in 1947-48, Hartford in 1948-50, and with Bridgeport in 1950-51.

Physical description:
6’2″, 170 pounds


Jerome Fleishman (born February 14, 1922, died June 20, 2007) was an American former professional basketball player.

A 6’2″ guardforward from New York University, Fleishman played five seasons (1946-1950; 1952-1953) in the Basketball Association of America/National Basketball Association as a member of the Philadelphia Warriors. He averaged 5.8 points per game in his career and won a league championship in 1947.

Jews in Sports Online

Jerome Fleishman

A member of the NYU Athletics Hall of Fame and the New York City Basketball Hall of Fame, Fleishman was an All-America forward at NYU (New York University) before joining the Philadelphia Warriors in 1947 when they won the first-ever NBA championship. The other Jewish members of the Warriors that year were players Petey Rosenberg, and Ralph Kaplowitz, head coach (and owner), Eddie Gottlieb, and assistant coach, Cy Kaselman

Birth and Death Dates:
b. Feb. 14, 1922

Career Highlights:
Fleishman was an excellent forward for the NYU Violets in the mid-1940s. In 1943, Fleishman was named second team All-America and second team All-Metropolitan as he helped lead the Violets to a record of 16-4 and a berth in the NCAA tournament (the first time a New York City team played in the NCAA). In the East Regional Semifinal, Fleishman was held to only two points as NYU lost to Georgetown, 55-36. In the East consolation game, he was held in check again (six points) as the Violets fell to Dartmouth, 51-49. The following year, NYU had a mediocre season and finished with a record of 9-8.

After completing his collegiate career, Fleishman immediately turned professional with the Philadelphia Sphas of the American Basketball League, the top pro league in the East at the time. The Sphas (the nickname stood for the South Philadelphia Hebrew Association), began as a barnstorming team in the early 1920s, but had dominated the ABL during the 1930s and early 1940s. In 1944, Fleishman played in seven games and averaged 5.3 points for the Sphas, who made it to the championship before losing to the Wilmington Bombers. He played sparingly for the Sphas over the next two seasons, appearing in only eight games as Philadelphia won the league title in 1945, but lost in the championship in 1946.

In 1946-47, Fleishman joined the Philadelphia Warriors of the newly-formed Basketball Association of America (the forerunner of the NBA). At the time, the BAA, which had national aspirations, was considered just another pro league; it took only three years for it to become the dominant league in the sport. That season, Fleishman played in 59 games and averaged 4.5 points per game for the Warriors (owned and coached by Sphas founder Eddie Gottlieb), which finished second in the Eastern Division with a record of 35-25. In the playoffs, the Warriors defeated St. Louis (2-1) and New York (2-0) to reach the NBA Finals. In the Finals, Jerry scored 16 points in Game 2 and helped lead the Warriors to a 4-1 series win over the Max Zaslofsky-led Chicago Stags to capture the first-ever NBA championship!

The following year, Fleishman was a member of the Eastern Division champion Warriors (27-21) who returned to the NBA Finals to face the Baltimore Bullets (a team ‘called up’ from the ABL). After winning Game 1, the Warriors blew a 41-20 halftime lead in Game 2 and lost, 66-63. That contest was the turning point of the series and the Bullets defeated Fleishman and the Warriors in the series, 4-2. As Fleishman continued his career with the Warriors, the BAA began its quest for domination in professional basketball. Franchises from the National Basketball League (NBL, a pro league based in the Midwest) moved to the BAA; the teams included the Minneapolis Lakers, the first dynasty in NBA history. By 1949-50, the BAA had merged with (or been swallowed by) the NBL and had become the NBA.

Following the 1949-50 season, Fleishman returned to the nearly-defunct ABL and played with the Scranton Miners. He was third on the team in scoring with 388 points (10.8 average) as the Miners finished 26-8. They won the championship based on their regular season first-place finish. Fleishman played the next two seasons with Scranton in the ABL, but also returned to the NBA for a final season in 1952-53; he played with both the Warriors and New York Knicks that season.

New York

Career Dates:
Fleishman played forward at NYU from 1942-1944. He played in the ABL with the Philadelphia Sphas from 1943-46, and for Scranton from 1950-1953. He also played in the NBA with the Philadelphia Warriors from 1946-1950, and again in 1953; and for the New York Knicks in the 1952-53 season.

Physical description:
6’2″, 190 pounds


Jack “Dutch” Garfinkel (born June 13, 1918) is a retired Americanbasketball player.

Garfinkel attended Thomas Jefferson High School in Brooklyn and then nearby St. John’s University to play for future Hall of Fame coach Joe Lapchick. In 1941, he won the Haggerty Award, given to the top player in the New York City metropolitan area.

After his college career was over, Garfinkel served in the United States Army during World War II. He then played for the Philadelphia Sphas of the American Basketball League, theRochester Royals of the National Basketball League (NBL), and finally settled in with theBoston Celtics of the Basketball Association of America (BAA), where he was a member of the franchise’s first team in 1946–47[1] Garfinkel lasted three seasons with the Celtics, but his career ended prior to the NBL/BAA merger that formed the National Basketball Association in 1949.[2]

After his playing days were over, Garfinkel became a basketball coach and official.


  1. Jewish Sports HOF profile, accessed November 1, 2010
  2. NBA statistics, accessed November 1, 2010

Jews In Sports Online

A member of the St. John’s University Hall of Fame and the New York City Basketball Hall of Fame, Garfinkel played on the very first Boston Celtics team. Dutch was a colorful personality and a great player in the early days of the NBA. Howie McHugh, the Celtics’ publicist for years, said, “Dutch was a great passer, perhaps the Bob Cousy of his day…I remember him hitting five sets in a row one night and then throwing in the sixth from mid-court and throwing kisses to the crowd.”

Leonard Lewin, dean of New York sportswriters, made the following observation to this web site (February 22, 2001), “Dutch was one of the great passers of all time. Dick McGuire learned from him, and Dick McGuire is considered one of the great passers of all time.” Among his many notable distinctions, Dutch is credited with being the first to initiate the “look-away” pass that has become such a crowd-pleasing staple of today’s game. Garfinkel did it not to show off — an eloquent advocate of team play, Dutch disapproves of ostentation for its own sake — but to provide easier, open shots for teammates left unguarded by unsuspecting defenders.

Of course, his teammates had to adjust to Dutch’s phenomenal level of skill, and to the hard “bullet” passes he threw which were so difficult for a rival to intercept. “I broke fingers on the hands of four different players,” he observed (in an interview with this web site on March 2, 2001).

Birth and Death Dates:
b. June 13, 1918

Career Highlights:
A graduate of Thomas Jefferson High School in Brooklyn (where he helped his team win the PSAL title in 1936), Garfinkel intended to play college basketball at George Washington University. When the representative from that school did not show up at a scheduled meeting, however, he decided to enroll at St. John’s University in Brooklyn. A highly-touted sophomore in 1938-39, Garfinkel was immediately plugged into the starting line-up as the team’s point guard. His coach Joe Lapchick said, “The kid gives me something I’ve never had before — a playmaker. He’s the best passer I’ve ever seen since [Hall of Famer Nat] Holman. No fooling, he can throw a blind pass harder and more accurate than most players can unload a spot pass…if we didn’t have him, you’d see some of our guys running around like hopheads.”

Garfinkel helped the Redmen win their first three games of the season before they played Northwestern in a double-header at Madison Square Garden. Prior to the game against Northwestern, St. John’s season was placed in Dutch’s hands. The New York Timeswrote, “If Garfinkel is strictly as advertised, the Redmen will have the best balanced team, at least in the [New York] Metropolitan area. Garfinkel is a type almost extinct now — a shrewd, deft playmaker…[coach Joe] Lapchick fears that Garfinkel, around whom the entire attack has been fashioned, will get the sophomore shakes at the Garden…”

St. John’s defeated Northwestern by a score of 49-41. The newspapers wrote that Dutch not only lived up to the high expectations placed on him, but he exceeded them, and that, “…his split-vision passes, his unerring accuracy in feeding the ball and his complete control of every situation made him the hub of the St. John’s wheel. Everything revolved around him…” During the regular season, Garfinkel was the team’s fifth-leading scorer with 95 points (35th in the Metropolitan area) and was named Madison Square Garden third team All-America and first team All-Metropolitan while leading St. John’s to its first appearance in the NIT (National Invitational Tournament).

Along with the team’s high-scorer, senior forward Ralph Dolgoff, Dutch led the the Redmen to a regular season record of 17-2. In the first round of the tournament, Garfinkel scored five points, and St. John’s defeated Roanoke College, 71-47. In the next round, they played Loyola (Chicago), led by All-America center Mike Novak and coached by Hall of Famer, Leonard Sachs. Dutch scored 10 points, but Novak blocked nine shots and intimidated the Redmen, who lost 51-46 in overtime. In the consolation game, St. John’s lost to Bradley, 40-35, to finish in fourth place.

In 1939-40, Garfinkel was named second team All-Metropolitan and finished third on the team in scoring with 108 points (23rd in the Met area). The Redmen finished with a regular season record of 15-3 and returned to the NIT. In their first-round game against Duquesne, led by All-America forward Moe Becker, Dutch scored eight points, but St. John’s lost 38-31.

In 1940-41, Dutch captained the St. John’s basketball team and won the Haggerty Award, which is still given annually to the outstanding player in the Metropolitan New York area. The team’s third-leading scorer with 119 points (7.0 average), Dutch led the Redmen to a record of 11-6. That year, Walter McLaughlin, St. John’s Athletic Director for 39 years, remarked that “Dutch was the most unselfish player we’ve ever had. Perhaps he didn’t score all that much, but he had a hand in everybody else scoring.”

After his stellar collegiate career, Dutch played professional basketball in the ABL (American Basketball League, the NBL (National Basketball League), the New York State League, and the BAA (Basketball Association of America — predecessor of the NBA). Immediately after his senior season, Dutch began to play professionally with the Baltimore Clippers (in the ABL) and appeared in six games during the 1940-41 season. The following year, he played for the Trenton Tigers. He served in the U.S. Army during World War II and then, in 1944-45, he played for the Philadelphia Sphas (the nickname stood for the South Philadelphia Hebrew Association) and was the team’s third-leading scorer (6.0 points per game) as the team captured the ABL championship.

In 1946-46, Garfinkel switched leagues to the NBL, playing for the Rochester Royals, which were coached by Hall of Famer Les Harrison. In a backcourt loaded with talent such as future New York Knicks head coach, Red Holzman, Al Cervi, and Bob Davies, Dutch helped lead the Royals to the league title. He played in 28 games and scored 47 points.

The following season, Dutch played for the Boston Celtics in the newly formed BAA (Basketball Association of America). In 1946-47, he appeared in 40 games and averaged 4.5 points and 1.5 assists per game, although Boston finished in last place in the Eastern Division with a record of 22-38. In 1947-48, Dutch played in 43 games and averaged a career-high 6.1 points per game, but the Celtics finished 20-28 and lost to the Max Zaslofsky-led Chicago Stags in the playoffs, 2-1. Garfinkel played in all three games of the series, scoring 22 points, with 7 assists. His final season in the league came in 1948-49, when Boston finished 25-35, and again missed the playoffs. Dutch, who played in only nine games that year, averaged 3.8 points and 2.1 assists per game. He did not play in the league again, which soon merged with the NBL and changed its name to the NBA (National Basketball Association) in 1949-50.

After his playing days, Dutch became a coach and referee. He officiated high school games in New York City, collegiate games in the Eastern College Athletic Conference, and in the Eastern Pro League. He is a member of St. John’s University Hall of Fame, and the New York City Basketball Hall of Fame.

Brooklyn, New York

Career Dates:
Dutch played at St. John’s, 1939-1941. He played in the ABL for the Baltimore Clippers (1940-41) and Trenton Tigers 1941-42, and the Philadelphia Sphas, 1944-45. He played in the NBL with the Rochester Royals 1945-1947, and in the NBA for the Boston Celtics 1946-1949.

Physical description:
6’0″, 190 pounds

David Vyorst
Executive Producer and Creator

When David Vyorst is not busy spreading the gospel of Jewish basketball history, he is a communications specialist and web strategy consultant living in Washington, D.C. The First Basket is David’s first film, and he is currently hard at work developing three other film projects, including a video project abuot peacemakers and friends across the divide of the Middle East conflict. Previously, Mr. Vyorst directed Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide’s Internet media department. His political experience includes two presidential campaigns, work on Capitol Hill, and public opinion research. As a lifetime sports fan and film enthusiast, Mr. Vyorst brings his personal enthusiasm and love of the game to The First Basket. David Vyorst holds a Bachelors Degree from UCLA and a Masters Degree from the London School of Economics.

Peter Riegert

Peter Riegert, the renowned star of stage and screen, is also the writer, director, and star of the critically acclaimed film, King of the Corner(

Mr. Riegert has appeared in more than 30 films including Animal House, Local Hero, Crossing Delancy, The Mask, and Traffic. His television credits include The Sopranos, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and the final episode of Seinfeld

Previous to The First Basket, Jennifer Crescenzo was the Senior Producer for 8 years at Video/Action, a social justice organization. Ms. Crescenzo received a Capitol Region Emmy Award for producing and directing Extraordinary Response to International Terrorism, the story of how the people of Lockerbie, Scotland reached out to the hundreds of families who lost loved ones after the terrorist attack on Pan Am Flight 103. Other award-winning work includes Kathleen’s Story, a young woman’s struggle with breast cancer; Louis Martin: Walking with Presidents, the story of a ground-breaking black journalist who used his gift for “getting the right story to the right people” to win the confidence of presidents and champion the rights of black Americans; and Through My Eyes, a look at the lasting impact of family and community violence through the eyes of children. Her work has been broadcast on Court TV, WETA, and CNN, and screened at the National Press Club and the Kennedy Center.

In the spring of 2006, Jennifer completed Ready to Play, her first feature-length documentary film, about how her father salvaged a run-down elementary school ball field in the heart of Washington DC and built a 25-year neighborhood old softball league that keeps a changing community together.

In addition to her 8 years of production experience, Jennifer is a certified yoga instructor, so when she is not driving editors crazy with her attention to detail, she is tweaking her student’s downward facing dogs! Jennifer Crescenzo holds a BA summa cum laude from the University of Notre Dame.

Courtenay Singer has worked on programs for the National Geographic Channel, MSNBC, HGTV, and PBS. She recently worked as Field Producer for the PBS special Making Schools Work with Hedrick Smith. Her projects with National Geographic include Field Producer for Catastrophe: Surviving Hurricane Floyd; Booking Producer for Inside Base Camp; and Associate Producer for the Taboo series. Prior to her filmmaking career, she worked as a Communications Specialist for the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland and as Director of Communications at the National Department of Health in Pretoria, South Africa. She holds a BA from Cornell University, an MPH from the University of California at Berkeley, and a certificate in documentary filmmaking from George Washington University.

Carol Slatkin

Carol Slatkin is a highly regarded television editor, specializing in long format documentary programming. Over the past 20 years Ms. Slatkin has edited a wide variety of award winning projects broadcast on PBS, National Geographic Television, Discovery Communications, NBC, and Turner Broadcasting. Her most recent project is the critically acclaimed Frontline: Is WalMart Good For America? Last year, Ms. Slatkin co-produced and co-edited Discovery Docs With All Deliberate Speed, a feature length documentary about the Brown v. Board of Education decision. Ms. Slatkin is a co-owner of a post production facility, P&C Post, Inc., where she edits, and manages post-production on various programs.

Gary Griffin
Director of Photography

In 1005, Gary Griffin won the Sundance Film Festival’s American Excellence in Cinematography Award for the documentary The Education of Shelby Knox, and Autism is a World, shot by Gary Griffin was nominated for an Academy Award for best documentary short film. Additionally, Mr. Griffin directed photography on the 1992 HBO documentary film Educating Peter, which won the Oscar for best documentary film. He is director of photography of NVF’s feature documentary Still Fighting. Some of his other work includes The Character of George Washington (PBS), God and the Inner City (PBS), Marachi, the Spirit of Mexico (PBS), and Fighter (First Run Features). His award-winning cinematography includes productions for A&E, PBS, ABC, HBO, NBC, CNN, and CBC. Mr. Griffin is an adjunct film professor at American University in Washington, D.C.

Roberto Juan Rodriguez ( is a bona fide innovator, a rare musician whose creative vision synthesizes Cuban music and Jewish music into an entirely new music that breathes joy and melancholy with tremendous emotional clarity. Before leaving Cuba for Miami with his family at age 9, Mr. Rodriguez studied violin, piano, and trumpet at music schools in Havana while also learning to play drums and trumpet. In Miami, he encountered Jewish Holocaust survivors who had re-settled there, as well as Cuban Jews from the island. Rodriguez started drumming professionally in his father’s ensembles in Miami when he was barely in his teens. For the next decade or so, he immersed himself in the culture of Miami’s vibrant Jewish community.

Moving to jazz headquarters, New York, Mr. Rodriguez soon established himself as a first-call drummer. Jazz and pop notables with whom he has worked include: Ruben Blades, Lester Bowie, T-Bone Burnett, Randy Brecker, Paquito D’Rivera, Julio Iglesias, the Miami Sound Machine, Joe Jackson, Dave Liebman, Paul Simon, Lloyd Cole, Marc Ribot and Phoebe Snow. El Danzon de Moises (The Dance of Moses) his first recording as a composer for John Zorn’s Tzadiklabel appeared in 2002 to critical raves. The formation of Septeto Rodriguez and a new album Baila! Gitano Baila! followed.

Dennis Boni

Since 1983, Dennis Boni has established himself as one of the DC area’s foremost cinematographers. Boni was one of the few hand-picked cinematographers to be accepted and trained by Garrett Brown, the Steadicam’s inventor. He is known for his meticulous attention to lighting and production details, and has shot pieces that have been shown on all the major networks, as well as PBS, the Discovery Channel, the History Channel and the Learning Channel. Mr. Boni is well known for his award winning documentary work, as well as for commercials and high-end corporate pieces. Boni has worked with three presidents, and recent clients include Paramount Pictures, MGM/UA Home Entertainment, America Online, Microsoft, Dell, QVC, Winstar, the Washington Area Chevy Dealers Association, MCI and Fannie Mae. Boni has also worked on feature films, including Contact for Warner Brothers, and Canadian Bacon for Polygram Entertainment.

Boni has shot extensively overseas during his 19 years as a cinematographer, as well as across the United States. In the past few years, assignments have included archaeological and historical sites in Bolivia, Guatemala, Italy and Israel, coral reefs in Honduras and the Bahamas, farms and wildlife in France, India and Zimbabwe, and mega cities such as Istanbul, Mexico City and Shanghai.

Ari Sclar is a PhD candidate in history at Stony Brook University in Stony Brook, New York. Mr. Sclar’s doctoral dissertation examines basketball’s impact on American Jewish culture and identity in the first half of the 20th Century. Mr. Sclar has also directed content for the Jews in Sports web site, first at NYU and then the American Jewish Historical Society.

Katri Billard
Associate Producer

Katri Billard has worked in film and video since 1996 on long format documentaries such as The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg, Trembling Before G-d, The History Channel’s April 1865, the recently released MANA: Beyond Belief as well as on shows for PBS, HGTV and the Gallery Channel. Ms. Billard has also produced many commercials, PSAs and industrials in the DC area for clients such as The White House Science & Technology Awards, Children’s Hospital, Best Buy and the Smithsonian. Additionally, Ms. Billard has worked on staff with the Washington Jewish Film Festival; as director of the Shorts@Visions local film series; and on the film committees of WIFV Film Festival, Ladyfest DC and Art-o-Matic. Ms. Billard is a member of Women in Film & Video and AIVF, and recipient of a 2001 DC Arts & Humanities Artist Fellowship for comedy filmmaking as well as a 2003 Finalist of the DC Scriptwriting competition.

Anat Salomon has amassed substantial experience for more than a decade as an editor and camera person. She has engaged in a broad range of productions, from sports and entertainment to news, documentaries, and commercials. One of the founders of Israel’s Channel 2, her other projects include work with Fox News, ABC, CBS, and WNBC Channel 4, as well as France 2 and other international television networks. In 2000, she was awarded the “Telly Award” for Best Short, and her work has been presented at The New Museum in New York City.

Erin Essenmacher

Associate Producer

Erin Essenmacher is a Washington, DC-based writer and video producer with a strong background in television production as well as marketing and fundraising. As an Associate Producer and Research Director for Hedrick Smith Productions, Ms. Essenmacher was responsible for research, character development and field production on prime-time specials for PBS, including Critical Condition, Juggling Work and Family and Rediscovering Dave Brubeck. On the latter two programs, she also served as a Web Producer, responsible for conceptualizing each show’s companion site and writing the supporting text and articles. She has since worked as writer, researcher and field producer on various broadcast projects and currently works as a writer/producer for The Discovery Channel. Essenmacher has been a fundraiser for various political and non-profit groups and for several independent films. She served as PR/Marketing Director for the post production facility Waveworks and Double R Productions, its sister production company. Ms. Essenmacher holds a B.A. in Political Science and American Culture from the University of Michigan.

David Gorodetski is the founder and Creative Director of Sage Communications, a full service marketing and communications company in Mclean, VA. Mr. Gorodetski has been president and CEO of Missaticum Corporation, a full-service advertising agency in McLean, VA, as well as Vice-President of Interactive Services Worldwide for NY-based Ogilvy Public Relations. Prior to his experiences at Ogilvy, David worked with Stackig Advertising and PR, now one of the world’s largest interactive advertising agencies known as TMP Worldwide. Mr. Gorodetski has held design and senior art director positions with agencies in both Virginia and Israel early in his career. He has earned interactive, advertising, and print communications awards for his creative efforts, including 3 Addys and 2 EMA honors. Mr. Gorodetski received a Masters of Fine Arts in Media Studies from the Parsons School of Design at New School University in New York, as well as a Bachelor of Arts in Communications Design from the Wizo College of Design in Haifa, Israel.

Steven A. Riess (Ph.D., University of Chicago)
Professor: Department of History, Northeastern Illinois University

Steven A. Reiss is the author of Touching Base: Professional Baseball and American Culture in the Progressive Era (1980, rev. ed., 1999), City Games: The Evolution of American Urban Society and the Rise of Sports (1989), and Sport in Industrial America, 1850-1920 (1995)

Jeffrey S. Gurock (Ph.D., Columbia University)
Libby M. Klaperman Professor of Jewish History: Yeshiva University

Jeffrey S. Gurock is considered one of the most prominent scholars in the field of American Jewish History. Professor Gurock is a widely noted lecturer, and is the author or editor of eleven books including the acclaimed Judaism’s Encounter with American Sports, published in 2005.

Peter Levine (Ph.D., Rutgers University)
Professor: Department of History, Michigan State University

Peter Levine is best known for three books: A.G. Spalding and the Rise of Baseball (l985), Idols of the Game (l995), with Robert Lipsyte, and most importantly, Ellis Island and Ebbets Field: Sport and the American Jewish Experience (l992), an award-winning, popular book about sport and the assimilation of American Jews in the 20th century.

Charley Rosen
Sports Writer, Novelist

Charley Rosen is one of the most prolific basketball journalists in the world. Mr. Rosen is a commentator on ESPN, and the author of nine books including: More Than a Game; The Cockroach Basketball League; The Wizard of Odds: How Jack Molinas Almost Destroyed the Game of Basketball; Scandals of ’51: How the Gamblers Almost Killed College Basketball; Barney Polan’s Game; and The House of Moses All-Stars: A Novel. Mr. Rosen is a former coach in the Continental Basketball Association, has been intimately involved with basketball for the better part of five decades — as a writer, a player, a coach and a passionate fan.

Laurence Roth (Ph.D. University of California, Los Angeles)
Assistant Professor: Department of English, Susquehanna University

Laurence Roth is the author of Inspecting Jews: American Jewish Detective Stories (Rutgers University Press, 2004). He teaches American Jewish literature, Jewish cultural studies, 20th-century American literature and popular culture, and literary theory.

Cliff Hackel, Producer/Editor Cliff Hackel is an Emmy-award winning documentary producer/editor with over twenty years of freelance experience working for commercial networks, cable outlets and PBS. Mr. Hackel received an Emmy for documentary editing in 1990 for ABC’s The Koppel Report: Death of a Dictator, and has a strong background in creating personal profiles for television. Mr. Hackel produced and edited the award-winning PBS documentary Rediscovering Dave Brubeck, that profiled the legendary jazzman, as well as magazinelength shows for CNN about Grammy award-winning record producer Daniel Lanois and best-selling author Anne Lamott. He has also edited programs for both broadcast and cable networks including ABC, CBS, PBS, CNN, National Geographic Television, The Discovery Channel, and American Movie Classics. His body of work also includes over a dozen PBS specials, including various episodes of Frontline. Mr. Hackel’s work has received several Emmy nominations, including the PBS Health Quarterly in 1991, CBS’s The Kennedy Center Honors in 1994, CNN’s Arkan: Wanted in 1997, CNN’s Operation Teacup in 1998, and PBS’s Critical Condition in 2000.

Stephen L. Rabin

As President of the Educational Film Center (EFC), Stephen L. Rabin brings over twenty years of experience and expertise in educational filmmaking to The First Basket. During his tenure at EFC, Mr. Rabin has overseen production on all EFC projects, including the PBS primetime evening features The Marshall Plan; One Woman, One Vote; Off Limits; Harry Hopkins: At FDR’s Side; The Odyssey Of John Dos Passos; and America’s Embattled Economy. As the former Media Program Director at the National Endowment for the Humanities, Mr. Rabin was responsible for the development and funding of more than 500 hours of national primetime television and radio programming.

Neil Keller is one of the foremost private collectors and experts on the subject of Jews in sports. For over two decades, Mr. Keller has collected memorabilia of Jewish people in all sports, entertainment and politics among other areas. His collection may be the largest such private collection in the world with more than 12,000 items (from various countries). He has given lectures to various Jewish organizations in United States and Canada, written articles for Jewish newspapers, and been featured in articles in The Washington Post,, Sports Collectors Digest, and The Jerusalem Post, and other publications. Mr. Keller is also the subject of the documentary film, Obsessed With Jews

Linda J. Borish (Ph.D., University of Maryland)
Associate Professor: Department of History, Western Michigan University

Linda J. Borish teaches 19th-Century American Social and Cultural History, American Sport History, Women’s History, and American Studies and Material Culture and has published articles on Jewish American women, sports, and social change.