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The New York State League, or NYSL, was one of the first successful attempts at creating a professional basketball league over a large geographical area. The locations of the teams where, as the name suggests, in New York state. To be more precise, the teams where located along the Hudson river area just north of New York City and around the Albany region. One exception though, the Pittsfield team was fielded in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. The leagues large, but management, geographic area is what lead to some success, but may have also lead to its eventual downfall. Having teams in various locations made it harder for players to play for one team one night, and another one the next night. This is a problem many of the early leagues faced, but the NYSL seemed to have had fewer issues with this simply due to timing. Their large geographic area made it harder for players to travel between teams, and because the league started playing in an era before automobiles had taken over America.

The league competed mainly with the Eastern Basketball League, which was around the more major metropolitan areas such as New York City and Philadelphia. Both leagues had a similar lifespan lasting from the early 1910s until the early 1920s.

The NYSL was able top survive several set backs and still flourish as an early league. The first major set back was simply keeping teams financially afloat. In the first three years of the league several teams were relocated or ceased operations due to financial difficulties. When the league finally seemed to be on sure financial footing, the United States entered World War I. The league ceased operations during WWI due to not having enough players because of the war effort.

The league restarted in 1919, but part of the first half of the season was cut short due to the flu pandemic that gripped the world. The league restarted again in early 1920 and managed to have a lot of success. The Hudson team managed to set a fairly impressive record of 0-36. Few teams are able to play that many games and not disband.

The league managed to stay afloat until the 1922-23 season. By that time the larger and more successful MBL had started to draw away the best talent from both the EBL and NYSL. Several of the NYSL teams would reform in the MBL.