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War, Economical depression, hunger and Politics in basketball.
After the stock market crash of 1929 the United States was in great despair, money was scarce, and those who had it hoarded it. A vast drought from Ohio to Utah, and Canada to Mexico left many Americans without food. Yet during these dire times, basketball lived on. The thirties did little in the way of improvement upon the game, but it still added its own flair and finesse to the game.
After the 33-34 suspended season the ABL once again began playing. The league saw poor attendance at first, as fans couldn’t afford to eat let alone to go to a basketball game. The League had five teams disband before playing a game. The SPHAs would win their first title this season. In the college ranks the University of Kentucky won its first championship.
The Next season the SPHAs struggled but still won many games. Unfortunately the growing anti-Semitism in American made it hard for the SPHAs to play. SPHAS stood for South Philadelphia Hebrew Association, and some in American felt that Jewish bankers were responsible for the economical depression that was plaguing America. Despite the troubles the SPHAs and the league continued on. The New York Jewels won two out of three games against the SPHAs in the semifinals, only to lose to the Brooklyn Visitations.
The 1935-36 season saw a growth in the league, the economy got better under the Roosevelt administration, and some fans could finally afford to go out to a game. However, the Anti-Semitism didn’t go away. The SPHAs endured harassment everywhere they went, most notably in and around New York City. A new group even threatened to sue the SPHAs if they continued to play in the ABL, the group was the American Nazi party. The threats did little to deter to SPHAs who beat New York in the semis, and went on to face the defending champions’ Visitations. Many American Nazis’ attended the games to harass the SPHAs, many were arrested during the seven game series. The SPHAs would win game seven and the title.
The 36-37 season was much the same as the previous season, the economy stagnated and the talent in the league began to deplete, because players needed better paying jobs to feed their families. The SPHAs would win the title again, but would lose so many players in the off-season they considered folding. It was Eddie Gottlieb who convinced the remaining players to stay. The loss of many key veterans was disastrous for the SPHAs as they struggled thought the entire season. The 37-38 season would belong to the Jersey Reds as they’d go on to win the title .
The 39-40 season saw a change in the NBL, for the first time teams began choosing their own nicknames instead of that of the team owners. Also the Bison rejoined the league after taking a year off, only they now played in Chicago as the Bruins. The Financial despair for the ABL continued in the 39-40 season, the playoffs had to be cut to a best of one series. The SPHAs captured their third ABL title when they defeated the Washington Heurichs. Firestone became the NBL’s first repeat winner when they beat the All-stars.
The 40-41 season saw a change for the ABL as people stopped attending their games because of a serious threat of war as well as the poor economy. The league had to scale back on games, dropping the number from 33 games to 16 games. The SPHAs would win the title again in a 3-1 series decision over the Brooklyn Celtics. The NBL also experienced this prosperity, as it too added more teams. The most notable of these new teams was the Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons, and the Sheboygan Redskins. The All-stars would make the finals again against the Redskins, only this time the All-stars would win the NBL title.
As the 41-42 season started both leagued hopped that a new found bounce in the economy would provide an extra boost for both the leagues. Both leagues as well as the NCAA found November to be a great month for profit, and overall play. Games were closer, and fans and players were enthused by the game; everything looked great. But like the old saying goes, this was the calm before the storm. As November moved into December Oshkosh and Sheboygan where battling for first place, but that would become the last thing on every-ones minds when they woke up to read the newspaper on Monday, December 8, 1941. The day before the Japanese had launched a surprise attack on the US navel fleet stationed at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, thus the attack brought the United States into the second World War.
Both leagues temporarily suspended operation for a few weeks, as many players signed up to join the armed forces, still others, mainly those of German decent were taken by executive order 9066. EO 9066 was mainly in use against people of Japanese decent, but many Germans were also taken into custody. The SPHAs even had a Jewish, American Born player sent to Germany in exchange for American Citizens. Despite this both leagues as well as the nation as a whole downplayed the entire episode.
Games began to start back up in late December-Early January. The All-stars of the NBL continued to serge while the Redskins floundered. The All-stars costed to the best record in the league, followed by Sheboygan. The NBL enjoyed some success during the season, but uniforms and even balls were scarce, sometimes the games were played with nearly flat balls with no grip. The ABL on the other hand struggled immensely. The loss of many players, the fear in the major cities, and the war took a huge toll on the league. The Wilmington Bombers would win the first game of their playoff series and are declared the champions. In the NBL the All-stars would win their second title.
The War years.
As the 42-43 NBL season got underway, the league had little expectations for success, the league saw three teams drop out before the start of the season, But the league actually saw some success, mainly in the larger cities such as Fort Wayne, and Chicago. Unfortunately smaller teams such as Oshkosh, Sheboygan, and Toledo didn’t have great attendance. Toledo only lasted four games brining the number of teams down to four, Fort Wayne’s Bobby McDermott lead the league in scoring with nearly 14 points a game. McDermott and the Zollner Pistons saw unmatched success as they finished the 17 and six. Sheboygan finished 12 and 11, followed by Oshkosh(11-12) and Chicago(8-15). All four teams made the playoffs, Fort Wayne beat Chicago 2-1 and Sheboygan beat the defending champions Oshkosh All-stars in a two game sweep. Sheboygan would beat Fort Wayne two out of three times, to win the Championship.
Where the NBL had success, the ABL had little. Trenton began their dominance of the league early winning 11 out of their 13 games. Philadelphia and Wilmington also enjoyed good seasons. Trenton would make the Finals only to lose to Philadelphia. The SPHAs were lead by Elmore Morgenthaler, who scored more then 20 points a game in some cases. Morgenthaler was a huge draw for the SPHAs because most of the games were in the mid 50s, and his dominance of the paint was unseen, he was the first true giant of the basketball world despite standing only 6 foot nine or 10.
In the NCAA, the colleges in the Western United States finally began to make an impact against their Eastern Country parts, The University of California-Los Angeles was the first of the western colleges to gain notoriety when they defeated one of the Eastern elite schools. Other schools in smaller less likely places also had great seasons. The Universities of Utah, Wyoming, and Oklahoma all began to draw crowds to their games. In the east Georgetown dominated and was favored to win the title. Georgetown would meet Wyoming for the national championship, in the municipal Auditorium in St Louis Missouri. Wyoming would stun the Hoyas and win the game 46-34.
The 43-44 saw the Cleveland Roseblum’s jump for the ABL to the NBL and become the Cleveland Chase Brassmen. Unfortunately this didn’t increase the number of teams in the NBL because Chicago ceased operations for the season. In the first time in their history the Oshkosh All-stars struggled, the team had finished the previous season below 500 for the first time ever, and the 43-44 season was even worse. The All-star only won seven of their 22 games and finished in second to last place only to the ABL crossover Chase Brassmen, who finished the season 3-15. The Brassmen had to cancel games due to lack of many that is why they only played 18 games while everyone else had 22. At the top of the Standings were the Zollner Pistons. The Zollner Pistons where as good as the All-stars were bad, winning 18 of their 22 games to capture first place. Sheboygan also had a good showing finishing the season at 14-8, with five of their losses coming to Fort Wayne. The Zollner Pistons would make short work of the Chase Brassmen, beating them by nearly 30 in the first game, and then 11 in the second game to take a 2-0 series sweep and advance to the finals. Sheboygan had a harder time with Oshkosh, the Redskins beat the All-stars 32-31 in the first game of the series, but lost 34-31 in game two. Game three wouldn’t be another close one with the Redskins winning 40-27. In the finals Sheboygan put up a good fight against Fort Wayne in the first game losing by 2, 55-53. The next two games saw Fort Wayne build up a comfortable lead early and coast to victory 36-26 in game two, and 48-38 in game thee to capture their first NBL title.
Some of the ABL’s financial problems disappeared in the 43-44 season. The SPHAs the Bombers and a few other made a little money, and the league had some decent game play. But the rise of the NBL was hard to cope with, the ABL lost the Rosenblum’s to the NBL. Also, the league had many players defect to the NBL. Despite this teams such as the SPHAs, Tigers and Bombers carried on. The SPHAs would once again become a dominate force behind Elmore Morgenthaler who lead the ABL in scoring, but he wasn’t enough to lead Philadelphia to the title, they lost four games to three to the Wilmington Bombers.
The 44 college season was mostly unremarkable, game attendance wasn’t very high and most of the players weren’t very important. The thing of most interest involves the NCAA tournament. The Arkansas Razorbacks team bus was involved in an automobile accident. The NCAA needed a replacement for them. The University of Utah had just lost a NIT game to the University of Kentucky. But the NCAA allowed Utah to play in the tournament to replace Arkansas. Utah would go on and Missouri and Iowa to go to the National Championship game. Utah would face Dartmouth for the championship, the game was a closely contest game, and after two halves of play the game was knotted at 36. Each team scored four points in the first four minutes and 56 seconds of the overtime, but with four second to go, Utah’s Herb Wilkinson hit a hook shot at the buzzer giving the Ute’s the 42-40 win. The 1944 Utah Ute’s are the only team to have played in the NCAA and NIT tournament in the same season.
The 44-45 season was an important one for the NBL, for the first time since the start of the second World War the League saw substantial growth. Chicago re-entered the league as the Chicago American Gears, and a new time the Pittsburgh Raiders would join the league. The League was split into two divisions, The East with Fort Wayne, Cleveland and Pittsburgh, and the West with Sheboygan, Chicago and Oshkosh. The league would also expand the number of games from 22 to 30.
In the Eastern Division the Zollner Pistons would once again dominate, going 25-5 with only one loss coming at home. Bobby McDermott would once again be named MVP for the third time in a row for the Pistons. Cleveland would fair much better in the 44-45 season then they did in the 43-44 season. Cleveland did change their name from the Chase Brassmen to Allmen Transfers. They wouldn’t finish the season above 500 but did finish at 13 wins and 17 losses. Pittsburgh brought up the rear in the Eastern Division, winning only seven games and finishing last in the league.
The West was a lot more competitive. No one team ran away with the division lead early like what happened with the Pistons in the East. Instead all three teams had similar records going into a stretch where they needed to face their Eastern counterparts. The Redskins faired the best and took the division lead and would never look back. The Redskins would build up a seven game lead late in the season and eventually stretch it to 12 games as the season ended. Chicago would finish at 14-16, after losing key players to injury late in the season. For the second year in a row Oshkosh would be last with a record of 12 and 18.
Oshkosh and Pittsburgh wouldn’t make the playoffs marking the first time in three seasons a team didn’t play in the post season. Eastern champion Fort Wayne would face the runner up Cleveland. The Pistons hammered the Transfer 78-50 in the first game, led by McDermott who scored 30 points in the game. Game two was a little closer but Fort Wayne still won 58-51 to capture the East and advance to the NBA finals. In the West Chicago stunned Sheboygan when the Gears beat the Redskins 50-49 in game one. The Redskins would respond in game two by trashing the Gears 49-36. Game three would not see an improvement for the Gears as they Redskins once again blew them out 57-27.
A rematch of Fort Wayne and Sheboygan was brewing for all to see in the Finals. Sheboygan would win game one 65-53. Then in stunning fashion the Redskins took game two in Fort Wayne as well winning 50-47. The Redskins were heading back to Sheboygan up 2-0 needing only one game for the title. Fort Wayne however would respond by beating Sheboygan 58-47 in game three, then Fort Wayne embarrassed the hometown Redskins, by beating them 58-41. The series would go back to Fort Wayne all tied up with the momentum on the side of Fort Wayne. The Pistons would capture their second straight NBL title by defeating the Redskins 59-49 in game five. This marked the first time that a team would come back from a 2-0 deficit in a five game series to win the series, a feat which is still rare today.
The 44-45 season saw the ABL nearly decimate itself, internal struggled forced many teams to lose money and the rivalry with the NBL had killed the league, The once proud league was left with only six teams by the start of the 44-45 season. Philadelphia would finish 22-8 and for the best record, Trenton would follow suit at 21-9. The SPHAs would face the Baltimore Bullets in the championship series, and win two to one.
With World War II now over, America tried to focus on the luxuries of life, and that included basketball. The NBL, ABL, and NCAA all saw a huge influx in talent, and fans during this period, because many of the men had been away fighting the way, and now had money to step. The Economy began to boom, and many had an optimism never before seen in America.
The NBL added three new teams, the Indianapolis Kautsky’s, the Rochester Royals, and the Youngstown Bears. However, the Pittsburgh Pirates dropped out of the league after only one season. The Bears and the Royals would join the Pistons and Transfers in the East, while the Kautsky’s joined the Redskins, All-stars and Gears in the West.
Fort Wayne would once again look like the team to beat jumping out quickly in the East, but Rochester kept with them. As the final weeks of the season the teams were neck and neck, the Pistons would win the race for the division championship by two games over the Royals. The Bears finished 13-20, and the Transfers finished a pathetic 4-29. Fort Wayne’s Bobby McDermott was named MVP for the 4th time in a row.
In the West the Redskins, Gears and All-stars would be in a three-way dog fight for the division championship. The Redskins would win it over the All-star by two games, the Redskins finished 21-13 while the All-stars finished 19-15. The All-stars also finished two games ahead of the Gears who finished at 17-17. The Kautskys finished at 10-21.
Only the two best teams in each division made the playoffs. In the East it was Fort Wayne and Rochester in a best of five series. The Pistons won game one by 10 points, but the Royals answered by winning game two, 58-52. With game three was in Rochester and the Royals rode their fan support to beat the Pistons by the same 58-52 score they had won game two with. The Royals smelled blood after their game three win, and demolished the defending champion Pistons 70-54.
Sheboygan and Oshkosh would play a great series, in game one the Redskins beat the All-stars 46-45. In game two the All-stars won 53-41. Game three would switch to the Redskins who won 58-52. The All-stars would counter by winning game four in a blowout, 68-42. In a fitting end to the series neither team won consecutive games, the Redskins beat the All-stars 65-46 in game five, to win the series and moved on to face the Royals in the finals.
The Finals wouldn’t be much of a match, the Royals demolished the Redskins in all three games, winning all three games by double digits. The Royals would become the first expansion team, to win a title in the NBL.
ABL and NCAA
In the ABL the Bullets took an early lead in the season standings, but the SPHAs would come roaring back to tie the Bullets at the end of the season with identical 21-13 records. The two teams would play for the Championship with Baltimore winning three games to one game.
Oklahoma state became the first college to repeat in the modern format when they beat North Carolina 43-40 in the Championship game.
Before the start of the 46-47 season the ownership group of the Chicago Gears sold the team name to another group of investors and moved the Chicago team to Tri-city and changed their name to the Blackhawks. The investor group started up a new team called the Chicago American Gears, and they signed a player that would forever change the game; George Mikan.
Besides the Gears the NBL added other new teams, the Syracuse Nationals, the Toledo Jeeps, the Anderson Duffy Packers, and the Detroit Gems. The addition to teams in Detroit and Syracuse was a huge boost for a league with teams in mostly small town cities.
The Champion Royals began where they left off, by winning big. The Royals lead by Al Cervi had an early jumpstart in the east, which left Fort Wayne struggling to play catch up. The Royals would go on to win 31 games against 13 losses. The Pistons would finish in second place with 25 wins and 19 losses. Toledo and Syracuse would both finish at 21-23, while brining up the rear was Tri-city(19-25) and Youngstown(12-32).
The West had a lot more of a competitive race in the standings. Five of the six teams in the division were still in the race with weeks to go. The All-Stars would take the division crown going 28 and 16. The All-Stars were followed by Kautsky’s who had vastly improved from the season before to go 27 and 17. The Mikan Lead gears followed suit at 26-18 as did the Redskins. The Anderson Duffy Packers finished the season at 24-20, but did not qualify for the playoffs. Rounding out the west was the Detroit Gems who went 4-40 in one of the saddest displays of basketball ever played in a top flight professional league.
For the first time the NBL had an actual playoff seeding format, with four teams from each division making the playoffs. The top seeded Royals would face their New York Counterparts, the Syracuse Nationals in a best of five series. Rochester won the first game 66-64, but the Nationals would win game two 64-61 to tie the series at one game a piece. The Royals would take games three and four by six and five points respectively.
The middle bracket had the Pistons versus the Jeeps; the battle of the cars was on. Fort Wayne would crush Toledo in the first two games winning by more than thirty in game one, and more than 20 in game two. When the series shifted to Toledo, the Jeeps exacted some revenge by beating the Pistons by 10 in game three. The Jeeps would also win game four to send the series back to Fort Wayne. The Pistons would win the series at home in another blow out.
In the West old rivals Sheboygan and Oshkosh would once again be facing each other. Sheboygan would squeak out two wins at home before going to Oshkosh up two games to none. But in a repeat performance of the 44 NBL championship the Redskins lost the next three games and would be eliminated for the playoffs.
In the middle bracket the Kautsky’s and Gears would have a fantastic series, one of the best the NBL ever had. The Gears took game one 74-72 and also got game two 69-61. When the series flipped to Indianapolis, the Kautsky’s would return the favor winning game one in games three and four. The Gears would return to Chicago and win the series 76-62.
For some curious reason the league decided that the semifinals would be a best out of three instead of best out of give. The Royals beat the Pistons in game by nine, but the Pistons would beat the Royals by seven in game two. The two teams had begun a rivalry which would last for 20 years during this time, as both teams began to rudely jeer at the other team. Rochester would win game three in a twenty-point blowout to return to the finals.
The Gears would have little trouble with the All-Stars in game one, the Gears won by six points but Mikan’s dominance of the paint forced the All-Stars to shoot jump shots which caused them dearly. Game two was much the game but the All-stars actually had the lead late in the game but George Mikan would take over and lead the Gears to a one point victory.
Going into the finals Rochester looked like a favorite to win behind Cervi, but Mikan was a forced to be reckoned with. Cervi and the Royals would take game one 71-66. Game two was a different story, Mikan dominated and lead the Gears to a 67-63 win. Mikan would dominate the series for then on out and the Gears would win games three(78-70) and four(79-68) to capture the title.
The 46-47 Season saw substantial growth for the ABL. The league went from six to 10 teams during the season. The Bullets dominated the regular season play, going 31 and 3 and winning the southern division. In the norther division Brooklyn won the division title at 24 and 10. Unlike the NBL who would send the top teams from each division, the ABL sent the division winners and the four overall best teams. The Bullets beat Brooklyn and Trenton beat Jersey City, Philadelphia and Elizabeth town to advance to the finals. The Bullets decided to play in the World basketball Championships instead and dropped out of the playoffs, with that the Trenton Tigers were declared ABL champions.
Like the NBL the BAA’s western division seemed to be the close one with the Stags winning the division title at 39-22, and the Bombers one game behind at 38-23. The Rebels finished at 500 with a 30 and 30 record, the Falcons and Ironmen brought up the rear.
The BAA set up their playoffs like a cross between the ABL and NBL playoffs, the division winners got a first round bye like in the NBL, while the playoff seeding went by overall record not division standings like the ABL had.
In the opening round the Knicks beat the Rebels in their best of three series 2-1. The Rebels stole game one 77-51, but the Knicks won both games two and three by double digits.
The Warriors beat the Bombers in their best of 2-1 with the Warriors winning game one 73-68, but the Bombers would take game two by 22 points, 73-51. But the Warriors beat the Bombers up in game three 75-39.
The Stags would face the Capitol in the next round, and the series would be best of seven. The Stags won the first two games handily. The Capitols put up a better fight in game three but still fell short. The Capitols would win the next two games by double digits. The Stags would win game six to take the series 4-2.
The Knicks-Warriors series would differ vastly from the Capitols-Stags series, where that series was competitive and fans attended the games. The Knicks-Warriors had a poor showing, and only lasted two games. The Warriors won both games and advanced to the finals.
The Warriors would win game one against the Stags, they followed that up by victories in games two and three. The Warriors lead by nine points late in game four, but the Stags and their leader Max Zaslofsky came charging back and took a one point victory. Game five would belong to the Warriors who won the first ever BAA title.
In the college Ranks Holy Cross stunned everyone by winning the title, they did so behind a flashy young point guard nicknamed the Houdini of the hardwood, Bob Cousy.
The 47-48 season saw more growth and more change for the NBL. The Gems moved from Detroit to Minneapolis and became the Lakers, which wasn’t the only big move the newly named Lakers did, they acquired MVP center George Mikan. The Youngstown Bears folded and where replaced by the Flint Dow AC’s.
The East was once again dominated by Cervi and the Royals. They would finish with the best record in the NBL yet again at 44 and 16. The Anderson Duffy Packers who had just moved to the East from the west were second at 42 and 18. The Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons came in third at 40 and 20, While the Nationals would gain the last playoff birth at 24-36. Toledo would finish at 22-37, and the Flint Dow AC didn’t even last the season in Flint before they moved to Midland, and finished eight and 52.
The Lakers would dominate the West going 43 and 17, Mikan would dominate and be the leagues first 20+ scorer. Tri-city would finish second at a mediocre 30-30, Oshkosh would finish one game behind them at 29-31, and Indianapolis would gain the last playoff birth at 24 and 35. The Redskins would finish at 23-37 and miss the playoffs.
Again Rochester and Fort Wayne would meet in the playoffs, Rochester would win game one by nine, and Fort Wayne would even the series after taking game two. The Royals would blow the Pistons away in games three and four to take the series.
Anderson would dominate struggling Syracuse in their best of five series. The Packers would win all three games by a margin of about 20 points a game. The Packers would wait to see if they faced the Royals or Pistons.
The Lakers would face the All-stars and beat them handily in game one, 80 to 68. The Lakers inflicted even more punishment upon the All-stars in game two taking it 88-65. Oshkosh would however give the Lakers their worst defeat of the season beating them 69 to 51 in game three. But Mikan was to much for Oshkosh in game four and the lakers won 81-66.
The Blackhawks would take game one against the Kautsky’s by 10, but the Kautsky’s returned the favor by beating the Blackhawks by 19 in game two. The Blackhawks would take games three and four in blowouts to go to the semifinals.
In the East semi’s the Royals beat the Packers 71-66 to win game one, the Packers beat the Royals 76-69 in game two but Cervi would come though for the Royals as they took game 74-48, in the monumental beating some of the Packer players actually booed their teammates.
The lakers would crush Tri-city in the West semi’s winning both games handily. Mikan was once again the most dominate player in the game. Mikan’s performance grabbed the attention of the national media, and Basketball became a hugely popular sport thereafter.
The Lakers and Mikan would face the Royals in the finals, again. The two NBL stars were fighting for the championship. The Lakers beat the Royals 80-74 in game one, Despite a fantastic performance by Cervi. The lakers also took game two 82-67. Cervi and the Royals would counter with a game three win, but it was too little too late, the Lakers would take game four and the title.
By the start of the 47-48 the ABL had all but practically died, most of the players had already defected to the NBL or the newly formed BAA, this included the Bullets who joined the BAA Midway thought the season the Scranton team was disbanded and many teams switched cities. Peterson and Wilkes-Barre would play for the title with Wilkes-Barre winning the title two games to one game.
Chicago would face Boston in the other opening round series. The Stags won game one by seven, while the Celtics won game two, by four points. Like the Bullets the Stags pulled away in the third game to win the series.
The First semi final was between the Warriors and the Bombers. The Bombers won game one in St Louis 60 to 58. The Warriors squeaked out a one point win to steal home court from the Bombers as the series moved back to Philadelphia. The Warriors followed their game two victory by completely thrashing the visiting Bombers 84 to56. The Bombers stole home court back by beating the Warriors 56-51 in Philadelphia With the Series back in St Louis the Bombers looked to take a commanding lead and win the series when they beat the Warriors 69 to 62 in game five. With the Series moving back to Philadelphia, the Warriors took game six in another blowout, thumping the Bombers 84-61. Game seven was back in St Louis three nights later, were the Warriors once again blew out the Bombers 85-46 in front of many upset fans.
The other semi final which was the best out of three saw the Bullets crush the Stags in both games. The Bullets team defense smothered Zaslofsky and the Stags offense stagnated. The Bullets won the series in a two game sweep.
The Warriors had home court advantage in the finals, game one in Philadelphia the Warriors rode the fan momentum and coasted to a 71-60 win. The Warriors came out with much the same enthusiasm they had in game one, in game two, The Warriors would build up a 21-point half-time lead. The Bullets came charging back and in Historical precedence won game two 66-63, this still makes the biggest comeback to win a championship game in BAA/NBA history. After game two the momentum shifted and the Bullets would win three of the next four games to win the second BAA Championship.
The growth of the NBL continued in 1948-1949 with the addition of four new teams; the Waterloo Hawks, the Detroit Vegabond Kings, the Hammond Calumet Buccaneers, and the Denver Nuggets. However the national exposure of Mikan and the Lakers caused the Lakers to jump ship to the BAA, as did the Kautskys the Piston, and the Royals. The NBL was in dire straight after this, and the pockets of the owners would feel it. This was an ironic twist of faith, because the previous season had been the leagues most successful.
With the loss of both the Pistons and the Royals the NBL east had a gapping whole in the standings, the Buccaneers and the Vegabond Kings were placed in the East. Neither team did very well, the Vegabond Kings only last half a season before they moved to Dayton and became the Rens. The Buccaneers finished the season 21-41, and the Vegabond/Rens at 16 and 43. At the top of the Division was the Duffy Packers who capitalized on the absence of the Pistons and Royals. The Packers finished the season with the best record in NBL history at 49 and 15. The Nationals who were lead by rookie Dolph Schayes finished second at 40 and 23.
In the West the All-stars took the Lakers place as the number one team. The All-stars finished the season at 37 and 27. Don Otten and the Tri-City Blackhawks finished second at 36 and 28. Otten was the first player other than George Mikan to lead the NBL in scoring in three years. Sheboygan finished just a little better than the two expansion teams at 35 and 29. The Waterloo Hawks finished just below 500 at 30 and 32, and the Denver Nuggets rounded the standings out at 18 and 44.
Oshkosh and Anderson both earned first round byes for finishing with the best records in their divisions. In the East opening round Syracuse would face off with Hammond. The Nationals won the first game 80 to 69, and the second game 72 to 66.
Tri-City would face Sheboygan in the other opening round match. Like the Nationals the Blackhawks would sweep their opponent in two games.
Anderson would face Syracuse in the Semifinals, the Packers would win the first game 89 to 74, but the Nationals and Schayes took game two 80 to 62. The Packers would answer by winning games three and four by 6 points each.
Oshkosh would win a two-point game 66-64 over Tri-city in game one. Game two was much the same for Oshkosh who won 83-73. The Blackhawks would score a win in game three when they beat the All-Stars 70-64. The All-Stars would however bounce back and beat the Blackhawks 70-69, and the All-stars would make their first NBL finals appearance since1942.
In the finals Anderson won game won 74-70, the Packers followed that win up by winning game two 72-70. The Packers finished off the All-Stars 88 to 64 to win their first NBL title.
The owners of the ABL tried keeping the league alive but with the exception of Philadelphia and Brooklyn the ABL had lost their stronghold on all the major cities. Wilkes-Barre would once again have the best record and once again win the title.
The 48-49 season saw great growth for the BAA. Four of the NBL super teams, the Minneapolis lakers, the Rochester Royals, the Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons and the Indianapolis Kautsky’s, all jumped to the BAA. The Kautsky’s became known as the Jets and then Zollner Pistons as just the Pistons. In addition to gaining four new teams for the NBL, the BAA also got superstars Paul Risen and George Mikan.
The Capitols became the Eastern Divisions best team by winning 38 games against 22 losses. The Knickerbockers went 32-28 to finish at second. Third was the defending champion Bullets who seemed lost after winning the title. They finished 29 and 31. The Warriors finished even lower then the team that had beaten them in the finals just the year before at 25-35. Providence did improve a little doubling their win output from the season before going 12 and 48.
The Western division and its powerhouse teams made for good basketball in the BAA, five of the six teams would be huge draws anywhere they went. The Royals and Lakers battled most the season for the top spot, but the Risen lead Royal one upped the lakers winning the division by one game at 45 and 15. The Lakers at 44 and 16 were followed by the Stags at 38-22, the Bombers at 29-31, the Pistons at 22-38, and the Jets at 18-42.
The Playoffs would be a best out of three contest. In the Eastern bracket the Capitols bested the Warriors in a two game sweep. The Knickerbockers would win their first ever playoff series by beating the defending champion Bullets two games to one. And the Capitols finished off the Knickerbockers two games to one to go on to the Finals.
In the West the Royals demolished the Bombers in game one 93-64, and then got a narrow 66-64 win in game two to win the series. The lakers pounded the Stags in a two game sweep to advance to the semi’s to face the Royals. In what was boasted as the biggest match in BAA history, the Lakers took game one on Rochester’s home floor by one. When the series moved to Minneapolis so many people wanted tickets the game had to be moved to St Paul. The Lakers took game two 67-55, the 12 point win disappointed many fans, but still most had gotten hooked on the game.
The Finals say the lakers take a domineering role in the first three games, winning all but one by double digits. However, in game four the Lakers star center George Mikan broke his wrist. This allowed the Capitols to steal the game away from the Lakers. With Mikan still ailing, the Capitol also took game five in Washington. Game six was a different story, Mike came back and scored 42 points to lead the Lakers to their first BAA title.
The NBL and BAA Merge; the Birth of the NBA.
Owners from the NBL and BAA would meet after both the leagues had finished their seasons, owners on both sides were concerned over teams and players constantly jumping leagues. On August 3rd, 1949 all the team owners had come to a satisfying agreement; the six remaining NBL teams, the Syracuse Nationals, The Anderson Duffy Packers, the Tri-City Blackhawks, the Sheboygan Redskins, the Waterloo Hawks, and the Denver Nuggets, would join with the BAA, the resulting 17 team league would be called the National Basketball Association(NBA), and have three divisions of five or six teams. The League did lose one team, the Providence Steamrollers disbanded after two horrible seasons.
In the East the Nationals behind Schayes dominated their division and finished 51-13. The Knickerbockers finished next at 40 and 28, followed by the Capitols(32-36), the Warriors(26-42), the Bullets(25-43), and the Celtics(22-46)
The Lakers and Royals had another dog fight to the finish in the Central division. Both teams would finish 51 and 17, and need a tie breaker to decide who would win the division title, the Lakers won the tie breaker. Fort Wayne and Chicago would also finish the season with a tie at 40 and 28. The Pistons won the tie breaker over the Stags. The Bombers finished last at 26-42.
In the West the Jets had become the Olympians won the division in a tightly contested race to the Finish with the Packers. The Blackhawks would follow up, followed by Sheboygan, Waterloo, and Denver. With the exception of Syracuse the NBL teams all struggled in the new BAA, and the entire western Division was made of former NBL teams.
In the playoffs the Nationals beat the Warriors in a two game sweep to move on to face the Knickerbockers who had beaten the Capitols in a two game sweep. The Nationals would advance to the finals since they had fewer losses (13) then the Lakers(17) who won the Central, both teams won 51 games in the season.
The Lakers would sweep the Stags in the NBA central division playoffs, while Fort Wayne Shocked their old Rivals from the NBL by beating the Royals in a sweep. The Lakers would then sweep the Pistons to await the winner of the Western Finals.
The Western divisional playoffs say Indianapolis and Sheboygan have a tightly contested series with the Olympians pulling out in game three. The Packers and Blackhawks series would also go three games, but it wasn’t nearly as contested, the Packers pulled away with the victory in game three to go and face the Lakers.
The Lakers would crush the Packers in the Semifinals, neither of the games was close at all and Mikan sat most of the last half of the second half of both games.
In the Finals the Lakers took game one from well-rested Syracuse, but the Nationals took game two as the Series moved to Minneapolis. Both games’ three and four were played in St Paul, and the Lakers won both games three and four. Syracuse would win game five but when the series returned to Minneapolis, Mikan the Lakers were to much as the lakers captured their third title in their third league in a row.
By the time 1949 rolled around the ABL was all but dead, the SPHAs had cased operations because owner Eddie Gottleib had turned his attention to his NBA team, the Warriors. Brooklyn took on the New York name to try and give the league some prestige but it didn’t help. Bridgeport would win the title, but it was over for the ABL. The ABL lasted until 1953, but of the teams who played in the 49-50 season only Wilkes-Barre, and Scranton remained in the league when the final curtain fell in 1953.