Oscar B. “Ossie” Schectman was a Jewish American professional basketball player.
Schectman was born on March 30, 1919, in Queens, New York to a Jewish family. He was a member of the undefeated 1939 NIT and National Championship team at Long Island University.
After graduating LIU, Schectman joined Eddie Gottlieb’s Philadelphia Sphas (South Philadelphia Hebrew Association), in the American Basketball League. The Sphas had started as a barnstorming, but they joined the ABL in 1933 and dominated the league. The Sphas won the league championship in his second season (1942-43), and the following year, Schectman finished second in the league in scoring with 199 points (10.5 points per game).
Schectman was a member of the original New York Knickerbockers in their inaugural NBA season in 1946. He scored the first points in league history when the Knickerbockers played the first game in NBA history, against the Toronto Huskies in Toronto on November 1, 1946. [Side note: The first game was supposed to be on November 2, but the Maple Leafs hockey team had a game that night so the game was pushed back a day.] The temperature in the arena started to rise during the game, melting the ice below the court, which seeped through the floorboards causing players to slip and fall all game.
After that season, Schectman decided to abandon the NBA. He returned to the ABL and, in the 1947, season he led the Paterson Crescents to the championship series and was named All-ABL first team. Due to business obligations (as a salesman in the garment industry) he was unable to play and decided to call it quits after two years. During his career, he scored 435 points with 109 assists in 54 games. He was inducted into the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 1998.
Schectman passed away on July 30, 2013, at his home in Florida, he was 94 years old.
[Last Updated: 4/21 by Aryeh Lev]
Sources: “Ossie Schectman,” Wikipedia.
“Ossie Schectman,” BasketballReference.com.
“Player Profile: Ossie Schectman,” ProBasketballEncyclopedia.com.
“Remembering Ossie Schectman and the First Basket in NBA History,” WBUR.org.