Friday, June 29, 2007

Court Jews: Pro Basketball s Forgotten History

Mention the names Leo Gottlieb, Sid Hertzberg, Ossie Schectman, Ralph Kaplowitz, Nat Milotzok and Hank Rosenstein, and the image that probably comes to mind is that of the board of directors of a Florida retirement village rather than half the roster of the 1946-47 New York Knickerbockers basketball team.


But Knicks they were, during the team’s inaugural season in the old Basketball Association of America (BAA), one of two leagues whose eventual merger created the National Basketball Association, which next week begins its 60th season of competition.

The Knicks won their first-ever game, defeating the Toronto Huskies 68-66 at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto. “Most of the fans in Toronto were pretty nice,” recalls Ralph Kaplowitz in Garden Glory, Dennis D’Agastino’s oral history of the Knicks, “but some of them kept yelling ‘Abe! Abe! Abe! Throw the ball to Abe!’ You know, sort of mocking the Jewish people. Of course, we ignored it. But you can’t help remembering that this is what went on.”



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