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The First Tip-Off: The Incredible Story of the Birth of the NBA

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Overview

Return to basketball's salad days, when the boys were green and the money didn't matter.

On November 1, 1946, in the NBA's (then called the BAA) first game ever, as the visiting New York Knickerbockers defeated the Toronto Huskies, the first point in the history of the NBA was scored by the Knicks' Oscar “Ossie” Schectman. It was the point that launched more than six million points to come, and Ossie did it, like all of his team members, for a mere $60 and a passionate love of ...

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The First Tip-Off: The Incredible Story of the Birth of the NBA

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Overview

Return to basketball's salad days, when the boys were green and the money didn't matter.

On November 1, 1946, in the NBA's (then called the BAA) first game ever, as the visiting New York Knickerbockers defeated the Toronto Huskies, the first point in the history of the NBA was scored by the Knicks' Oscar “Ossie” Schectman. It was the point that launched more than six million points to come, and Ossie did it, like all of his team members, for a mere $60 and a passionate love of the game. Who could have guessed back then that this fledgling league of 11 ragtag teams would one day grow into the billion-dollar international phenomenon that it is today?

In The First Tip-Off, veteran basketball writer Charley Rosen takes you back to the NBA's humble beginnings, when a colorful cast of characters laid the foundation for the empire that is today's NBA. With riveting writing, he gives you a prime seat courtside for every memorable two-handed underhand layup and hook shot of that first season, when professional basketball struggled to evolve from grudge matches—where head-butting was encouraged and players shoved each other, hockey-style, into the chicken-wire fence wrapped around the court to protect them from lit cigars tossed by angry fans—to a civilized game of elegance and skill. It wasn't an easy transformation.

In 1946, the players dribbled their way down slippery courts laid over ice rinks in stadiums that reeked of the previous night's rodeo. They were tough guys, ex-soldiers back from World War II, and still-green farm boys, thrilled to be away from home for the first time. They learned to play ball using wadded-up rags and fire escapes for baskets. They learned in fields, in church basements, and on school rooftops. Rough around the edges, they brought their homegrown skills to the new league and started something big.

From the Boston Celtics to the Washington Capitols, through in-depth interviews with surviving players, Rosen brings the spirits and the stories of these men to life as he weaves a fascinating and poignant portrait of a league struggling to gain a foothold in the American consciousness.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

During the 2007-08 season, the National Basketball Association (NBA) saw a league-average attendance of a little over 17,000 packing arenas that offer all the creature comforts, while the greenest of rookies drew a minimum salary of about $427,000. Compare that to 1946-7, the initial season of the Basketball Association of America, the league that would morph into the NBA. Games were generally played on floors hastily laid over ice (most of the league's cities already were home to hockey teams), a practice that led to slippage and even fog as the water seeped out. Few if any players cracked five digits in salary, and attendance ranged from a league high of 4300 to a low of 1,239. Rosen (NBA analyst, FoxSports.com; Players and Pretenders) spends a chapter on each of the league's 11 teams. He seeks to balance historical research and player interviews, but the result is not quite academic history but, because of insufficient amusing anecdotes, not exactly popular history either. Nevertheless, true fans and those old enough to remember the early teams and players will find this a comfortable read. Recommended for larger public libraries.
—Jim Burns

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780071487856
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill Professional Publishing
  • Publication date: 9/12/2008
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Charley Rosen

Charley Rosen is the author of fourteen books and a columnist for FoxSports.com. He is also a former player and was a head coach for nine years in the minor-league Continental Basketball Association. He lives in upstate New York.

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Table of Contents

Foreword Phil Jackson
Preface
Chapter 1 The First Basket and the First Basketeer
Chapter 2 The First Game
Chapter 3 Genesis
Chapter 4 The Penguin, the Mogul and the Constitution
Chapter 5 The Boston Celtics and the Clown-Prince of the BAA
Chapter 6 The Providence Steamrollers Hit a Road Block
Chapter 7 Paul Birch Fires up the Pittsburgh Ironmen
Chapter 8 Of Money, Time, and Justice
Chapter 9 There’s No “D” in Chicago Stags
Chapter 10 Big Ed Drives the Toronto Huskies to Ruin
Chapter 11 The Evolution and Extinction of the Cleveland Rebels
Chapter 12 The Professor and the St. Louis Bombers
Chapter 13 The Short Flight of the Detroit Falcolns
Chapter 14 The Ethnic Knicks
Chapter 15 Gotty, Jumping Joe, and the Philadelphia Warriors
Chapter 16 The Washington Capitols and The Apprenticeship of Red Auerbach
Chapter 17 The Playoffs
Chapter 18 The First Champions
Chapter 19 Barely Alive
Sources
Acknowledgments
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Customer Reviews

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