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Syracuse Nationals


Quick facts:

Founded:                      1946
Arena:                        Wells Fargo Center
Division Championships:       11(Last one in 2001)
NBA Titles:                   3 1955, 1967, 1983

Syracuse Days
The Nationals were founded in 1946 and joined the already established National Basketball League. Despite being in one of the larger markets in the NBL the Nationals found it difficult to win games as the rival BAA began luring players away from the NBL all together.

Even though they struggled the Nationals managed to make the playoffs in all three years in the NBL. The Nationals were one of many teams to join the NBA when the NBL and BAA merged in 1949.

Behind Dolph Schayes the team finally started seeing success and made the first NBA finals where they would lose to the Philadelphia Warriors. They would make the finals again in 1954 and again in 1955 where they would capture the franchises first NBA title.

Syracuse proved to be too small and the team was looking to move, even though they were year in and year out one of the best teams in the NBA. Eventually they found their opening when the Warriors left Philadelphia for San Francisco, the Nationals swooped in and became the Sixers.

Trading Places:
In one of the greatest oddities in NBA history, four players played for both teams during the same NBA game. This happened because there was a protest of a game played between the Nets and 76ers on November 8, 1978 and the replay of the game was done March 23, 1979 and in the meantime the Nets and 76ers had made a trade that sent Harvey Catchings and Ralph Simpson from Philadelphia to New Jersey and Eric Money and Al Skinner from the Nets to the 76ers.

This is the only time in NBA history where players started a game with one team and finished it with another. There have been several instances where games were replayed and players played who were not on the teams originally due to injures, suspensions and trades.

Leo Ferris: The man who saved the NBA

The early days of basketball often seen slow fan-unfriendly low scoring matches that often left spectators bored. Games often only got into the 40s and many of the best players averaged less than 15 points a game. Many early basketball games looked more like a glorified version of the childrens game of keep-away than an action packed professional sport. This style of play culminated in a game between Minneapolis and Fort Wayne, where the Pistons of Fort Wayne held the ball most of the second half nursing a 1 point lead over the Lakers. The Pistons would win 19-18 in the lowest scoring game in NBA history. Prior to that the fewest points ever score 33 points, just 4 fewer than both teams scored, and that game was one the opening night of the NBA, or BAA as it was called back then.

This place pace bored fans, many of whom where promised an action packed fun experience and attendance and interest in the new league had begun to dip. The NBA needed a solution and needed it fast. The solution was an ingenious one and one that would revolutionize the game as we know it. A simple clock, with just 24 seconds on it would forever change the game.

The clock was the brain child of Syracuse Nationals general manager Leo Ferris, a man that the NBA has long forgotten in one of the biggest travesties in the games history. Ferris, is as important to the early days of the NBA as anyone and one could argue that without Ferris there would be no NBA today; and there definitely would be no Atlanta Hawks, or Philadelphia 76ers. The NBA would look much different today without Ferris's input all those years ago.

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NBA Pioneer Dolph Schayes Passes Away at Age 87

Schayes was a star big man in his basketball career for the Syracuse Nationals, the precursor to the Philadelphia 76ers. Thought, unlike, other bigs of his era, Schayes possessed the ball handling skills of a guard. His ball handling and passing ability made him nearly unstoppable and ranks him second in the early NBA era of big men behind only George Mikan.

He was drafted by the Knicks of the BAA and by the Waterloo Hawks of the NBL, but the Hawks sold his rights to the Syracuse Nationals. The Nationals offered Schayes more money than the Knicks, so high signed there instead of joining the bigger market Knicks.

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Joe Holup goes for a layup against Maurice Stokes.

Ben Simmons flying in for a dunk.

The Sixers hope the Ben Simmons can be their saving grace.






  NBA History