Maurice Podoloff was a lawyer and basketball and ice hockey administrator. He was the first president of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He served from the league's founding (1946) until 1963. A graduate of Yale Law School, he became a distinguished attorney. In June 1946, Podoloff, who was already serving as president of the American Hockey League, was appointed president of the newly formed Basketball Association of America (BAA), becoming the first person to simultaneously lead two professional leagues.
Podoloff expanded the NBA to as many as 17 teams, and briefly formed three divisions and scheduled 557 games. Podoloff's great organizational and administrative skills were later regarded as the key factor that kept the league alive in its often stormy, formative years. During his tenure Podoloff introduced the collegiate draft (1947) and the 24 second clock which quickened the pace of games, and took the NBA from a slow plotting game to a fast paced sport. In 1954, Podoloff also increased national recognition of the game immensely by securing its first television contract. In his honor, the NBA would name its annual league Most Valuable Player trophy the Podoloff Cup.