The NBA suffered a loss on Tuesday morning, as related by Ian Begley of ESPN New York:
Schectman was 94 years old.
Trey Kerby of The Basketball Jones tracked down video of the historic bucket, which might not have come in an NBA game, per se — Schectman's New York Knicks were playing (and would beat) the Toronto Huskies in the inaugural game of the Basketball Association of America, which would become the NBA in 1949 after absorbing the National Basketball League — but most definitely did come on a pretty cool fast break:
Schectman was born in Queens, N.Y., and won two NIT titles as the point guard for Long Island University before turning pro. From Newsday's Al Iannazzone:
Schectman, a 6-foot guard played in the American Basketball League with the Philadelphia Sphas — whose nickname came from the South Philadelphia Hebrew Association — before the Knicks signed him in 1946 to play in the new Basketball Association of America, which later became the NBA. [...] Schectman played just one season and 54 games with the Knicks. He averaged 8.1 points and was third in the league with 2.0 assists.
Schectman recalled his pioneering basket in a 2003 chat with then-ESPN.com Page 2 columnist Charley Rosen:
"I scored on a two-handed underhand layup," he says, "which was the standard chippy shot back then. I also remember being on the receiving end of a give-and-go, but I can't remember who I received the pass from." [...] "I was the Knicks' third-leading scorer [8.1 ppg], I also finished third in the league in assist average [2.0], and my salary was 60 dollars per game. Ha! These days, the players make about sixty dollars a minute. Don't get me wrong, though. I have no jealousy or resentment over how much money these guys make today. I think they're the best athletes in the world, and they're worth every red cent. I'm just proud to have been one of the NBA's pioneers."
In briefly paying tribute to Schectman on Tuesday afternoon, the @NBAHistory Twitter account offered the following comparison for the point guard's game:
Lofty praise, to be sure, although based on his talk with Rosen, the self-effacing Schectman himself might have stopped short of the comparison:
"When I watch the games on the TV," he says, "I can't help projecting myself into the action. Naturally, I concentrate on the point guards since that was my position. And it's a thrill to see guys like Mike Bibby, Steve Nash and John Stockton. Their fundamentals are outstanding — footwork, balance, shooting techniques, ballhandling skills. Contrary to what some old fogeys might say, I think their fundamental skills are much better than ours ever were." [...]
Before he can hang up, I sneak in one last question: Any regrets? "Sure," he says. "I wish I would have known how to do a crossover dribble. That really looks like a lot of fun."
Rest in peace, Mr. Schectman. Thanks for getting us started.
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