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Saturday, November 22, 2014

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Jewish NBA player who scored league’s first basket dies at 94

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Oscar “Ossie” Schectman, a Jewish player who scored the first basket in the history of what evolved into the National Basketball Association (NBA), died Tuesday at age 94.

Schectman’s historic field goal came on Nov. 1, 1946 for the New York Knicks of the Basketball Association of America (BAA)—the precursor to the NBA—against the Toronto Huskies. The Knicks won the game, 68-66.

“Playing for the New York Knickerbockers in the 1946-47 season, Ossie scored the league's first basket, which placed him permanently in the annals of NBA history,” NBA Commissioner David Stern said in a statement. “On behalf of the entire NBA family, our condolences go out to Ossie’s family.”

Schectman’s basket would later inspire the title of “The First Basket,” a 2008 documentary about Jews and basketball from executive producer David Vyorst.

“The film is about the cultural history of Jewish basketball players, not only of how they contributed to the evolution of the NBA, but how basketball is an essential part of American Jewish history,” Vyorst told JNS.org in June.

In his only professional basketball season, 1946-47, Schectman averaged 8.1 points and 2.0 assists per game for the Knicks. The team’s roster sported significant Jewish flavor— Schectman’s teammates were Sonny Hertzberg, Stan Stutz, Hank Rosenstein, Ralph Kaplowitz, Jake Weber, and Leo “Ace” Gottlieb.

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