He’s been compared to Chris Paul, led tiny Long Island University to two NIT titles and began his professional career in the club leagues that predate the NBA. Ossie Schectman, who boasted many long-forgotten accomplishments on the basketball court, died Tuesday, according to CNN. He was 94.
Schectman is best known — if he is known at all — for scoring the first basket in NBA history. As a guard for the New York Knicks, Schectman scored a layup on Nov. 1, 1946, against the Toronto Huskies to record the first points in the history of the BAA, which was renamed the NBA three years later. He would only play one season, averaging 8.1 points and 2.0 assists per game, in an era when final scores in the 50s and 60s were common.
Schectman personified the heavy Jewish influence in the early NBA and throughout college basketball in the 1940s and ’50s. He joined the Philadelphia Sphas, an acronym for “South Philadelphia Hebrew Association,” out of LIU in 1941, and led the Sphas to the American Basketball League championship the following year. He helped make the Sphas one of the dominant clubs in the ABL, following in the barnstorming footsteps of the Original Celtics, who were based in New York. Schectman returned to the ABL after his lone season with the Knicks and made all-league in 1948.
Schectman is enshrined in the Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, the Long Island University Athletic Hall of Fame and the New York City Basketball Hall of Fame. He had two children and two grandchildren with his wife, Evelyn, according to CNN.