Synopses & Reviews
Return to basketball's salad days, when the boys were green and the money didn't matter.
On November 1, 1946, in the NBA's (then called the BAA) first game ever, as the visiting New York Knickerbockers defeated the Toronto Huskies, the first point in the history of the NBA was scored by the Knicks' Oscar “Ossie” Schectman. It was the point that launched more than six million points to come, and Ossie did it, like all of his team members, for a mere $60 and a passionate love of the game. Who could have guessed back then that this fledgling league of 11 ragtag teams would one day grow into the billion-dollar international phenomenon that it is today?
In The First Tip-Off, veteran basketball writer Charley Rosen takes you back to the NBA's humble beginnings, when a colorful cast of characters laid the foundation for the empire that is today's NBA. With riveting writing, he gives you a prime seat courtside for every memorable two-handed underhand layup and hook shot of that first season, when professional basketball struggled to evolve from grudge matches--where head-butting was encouraged and players shoved each other, hockey-style, into the chicken-wire fence wrapped around the court to protect them from lit cigars tossed by angry fans--to a civilized game of elegance and skill. It wasn't an easy transformation.
In 1946, the players dribbled their way down slippery courts laid over ice rinks in stadiums that reeked of the previous night's rodeo. They were tough guys, ex-soldiers back from World War II, and still-green farm boys, thrilled to be away from home for the first time. They learned to play ball using wadded-up rags and fire escapes for baskets. They learned in fields, in church basements, and on school rooftops. Rough around the edges, they brought their homegrown skills to the new league and started something big.
From the Boston Celtics to the Washington Capitols, through in-depth interviews with surviving players, Rosen brings the spirits and the stories of these men to life as he weaves a fascinating and poignant portrait of a league struggling to gain a foothold in the American consciousness.
"Charley Rosen has undertaken the challenge of documenting the latest and greatest history of the game professionally--and has done so to great success. . . . . When I finished the book it seemed as if I had gone through another season, injuries and all. . . . Rosen skillfully leads readers through the NBA's first steps along its journey toward what it has become today.”
--Phil Jackson, from the Foreword
"Rosen, a wonderful sportswriter . . . had forgotten more basketball history than the best fans will ever know."
Booklist, on No Blood, No Foul
Go back to a time when basketball players wore knee pads and itchy cotton jerseys. When even the team's leaders were grateful for dry towels, hot showers, and $60 paychecks. When winning was all that mattered.
In this vividly rendered and meticulously researched book, endorsed with a Foreword by Los Angeles Lakers head coach Phil Jackson, sportswriter Charley Rosen takes you on a rollicking tour of the NBA's first season. Filled with rare archival photographs and exclusive interviews, The First Tip-Off brings to life a cast of unforgettable characters--including Chuck Connors, clown prince of the BAA, and Jumping Joe Fulks, ex-Marine turned basketball's first superstar--as Rosen deftly unfolds the dramatic events of that formative season.
It's enough to make you believe once again in the spirit of the sport.
Veteran basketball writer Rosen takes readers back to the NBA's humble beginnings, when a colorful cast of characters had laid the foundation for the empire that is today's NBA.
About the Author
Charley Rosen is the author of fourteen books and a columnist for FoxSports.com. He is also a former player and was a head coach for nine years in the minor-league Continental Basketball Association. He lives in upstate New York.
Table of Contents
Foreword Phil Jackson
Chapter 1 The First Basket and the First Basketeer
Chapter 2 The First Game
Chapter 3 Genesis
Chapter 4 The Penguin, the Mogul and the Constitution
Chapter 5 The Boston Celtics and the Clown-Prince of the BAA
Chapter 6 The Providence Steamrollers Hit a Road Block
Chapter 7 Paul Birch Fires up the Pittsburgh Ironmen
Chapter 8 Of Money, Time, and Justice
Chapter 9 Theres No “D” in Chicago Stags
Chapter 10 Big Ed Drives the Toronto Huskies to Ruin
Chapter 11 The Evolution and Extinction of the Cleveland Rebels
Chapter 12 The Professor and the St. Louis Bombers
Chapter 13 The Short Flight of the Detroit Falcolns
Chapter 14 The Ethnic Knicks
Chapter 15 Gotty, Jumping Joe, and the Philadelphia Warriors
Chapter 16 The Washington Capitols and The Apprenticeship of Red Auerbach
Chapter 17 The Playoffs
Chapter 18 The First Champions
Chapter 19 Barely Alive