The excitement was focused on the backcourt - fast one-handed dribbling - two-handed set shots, with one-handed jumpers coming on in - and long passes dominated play after World War II ended
Great hardfloor generals challenged opposing taller players and dribbled right around them. Tall centers were coming onboard... forwards were starting to shoot one-handed jumpers from the outside of the circle. Although scores were still low compared to today's game, players were shooting more and more.
Leading Players of the BAA later known as the NBA :
* Joe Fulks, Forward & Center Philadelphia Warriors - considered by many as the best basketball player in the world during this era. The 6 ft 5 inch, 190-pound Joe Fulks was pro basketball's premier scorer. Shooting a one-handed jump shot, he led all players in the BAA with 1,389 points, a 23.2 points per game average (high in this era of low scoring games). Joe Fulks easily outdistance the 2nd place scorer, Bob Ferrick of the Washington Capitols, by over 450 points. 'Time Magazine' called Joe Fulks - "the Babe Ruth of Basketball"
* Frank Bauhmolz, Forward/Guard Cleveland Rebels - a sure-handed dribblered, he averaged 14.0 points per game, 11th highest in the league. Made 255 of 631 field goal attempts for a .298 percentage. Frank Baumholz played in just 45 of Cleveland's 60 games before leaving in February of 1947 to report to spring training with the Cincinnati Reds baseball team. A first baseman, Frankie Baumholz later was one of the Chicago Cubs top batters. Check out www.baseballhistorian.com for more information. Thanks
* John Simmons, Forward and Guard - he starred at New York University prior to joining the Basketball Association of America (BAA) A starter for the originial Boston Celtics. Johnny Simmons was a solid rebounder and played all 60 games scheduled in 1946-12947. He scored 318 points, made 120 of 429 field goals attempted for a .280 percentage (above average for this time). John Simmons was a teammate and friend of Chuck Connors, a NBA player who later became the star of television's big-hit western "Rifleman."
* Fred Scolari, Guard Washington Capitols - One of basketball's best dribblers, the 5-ft 10-inch 180-pound Fred Scolari could pass quickly to the open man. He played in nine (9) NBA seasons. In his first year, 1946-1947 he led the league in free throw percentage with .811 - sinking 146 of 180 attempts from the line. Fred Scolari averaged over 10.0 points per game in each of his first 7 NBA seasons. A local Boston newspaper once wrote, "Fred Scolari was so quick on his feet dribbling down court that he simply ran right past opposing basketball players."
* George Nostrand, Center Toronto Huskies - A college standout center, George Nostrand helped Wyoming go 31-2 w/l in 1942-1943 and win the NCAA basketball championship. Wyoming is the only college to win a NCAA Championship one year and not field a team the next - 1943-1944 because all of its juniors and seniors, including Nostrand, were called for military duty. Returning to basketball after the end of the War in 1946-47, he played 13 games in Toronto then played 48 with the Cleveland Rebels. Altogether he played with 6 different NBA teams in 4 years. Note: The BAA handed advertised it would give free tickets to any fan entering the building who was taller than the 6-ft 8-inches George Nostrand.
Professional teams were hard pressed to fill stadiums immediately after World War II. The Philadelphia Warriors and the New York Knickerbockers drew the most fans - 100,000 paid each.The Chicago Staggs tried playing a longer game in hopes that paying customers would figure they were getting more for their money.
By 1946-1947 the Washington Capitols, which were bankrolled by large-money investors, started televising its games and had by far the best record during the regular season - 49-11, finishing a full 14 games ahead of Philly in the Eastern Conference. However, the Chicago Stags toppled Washington 4-games to 2 in the BAA semi-finals. Philadelphia then went on to defeat Chicago in the Championship Finals 4-games to 1. Interesting Note: this was the Philadelphia Warriors first season ever.
The Basketball Association of American (later to become the NBA) relied on word of mouth, newspapers, and radio to bring fans in their stadiums.
* Buddy Jeannette, Guard Baltimore Bullets - He started playing professionally in the NBA and BAA back in 1938-39 season and after making the rounds with four teams signed with the Baltimore Bullets of the National Basketball Association (NBA) as a player and coach. He coached six seasons, 1947-1948 thru 1950-1951 and later in 1964-1965, 1966-1967. Although Buddy Jeannette was already 30-years old when he took over the reins of the Bullets, he was still prided himself as the fastest runner on the team. A floor general, if you will, and he was an accurate shooter, averaging 10.7 points per game in his first year in Baltimore. The Bullets posted a solid 28-20 record, made the BAA playoffs, and rolled through the postseason, before knocking off the Philadelphia Warriors 4-games to 2 in the BAA Championship Finals. Recap: after an opening game loss to the Warriors, Buddy Jeannette and center Connie Simmons showed their poise with the Baltimore Bullets losing 41-20 at half in Game 2. The pair rallied Baltimore to a 66-63 comeback win. From then on in the Finals, Buddy and his Baltimore Bullets were in charge.
* Stan Miasek, 6ft 6inch Center Detroit Falcons of the BAA /NBA- A good athlete, he could jump higher than most big-men of this era. Stan Miasek was honored by a panel of the media as the very-first NBA First Team All-Star for his outstanding all-around play in 1946-1947. One of the leading scorers after the War, he never played on a high school team or college team before joining the pros. IN 1946-47, Stan Miasek racked up a very solid 14.9 ppg, 3rd highest among NBA basketball players, and his 895 total points also ranked 3rd best. In 1947-1948 Stan Miasek was chosen a Second Team NBA All-Star after finishing again with a 14.9 ppg average.
* Chuck Connors, 6ft 7inch Forward Boston Celtics - proudly served in the military during World War II. Although Chuck Connors was a starting player on the Boston Celtics he was an inspiring actor, and was always sputing verses from Shakespear. Much of the traveling was done on trains, and so, Chuck Connors had ready audiences. He would stand up and recite 'Casey at the Bat' or the 'Face on the Barrom Floor', etc. Teammate John Simmons recalled later, 'Chuck stood 6ft7inch and had this big booming voice. And everyone would be listening to this big smiling guy.' Chuck Connors played just four games of the 1947-1948 season, then joined the Chiocago Cubs baseball team as a first baseman. The next year or so he got a gig in television where he was a long-time star as 'The Rifleman".
* Clarence 'Kleggie' Hermsen, 6ft 9inch Center Cleveland Rebels - a standout center at the University of Minnesota, Kleggie Hermsen played in the National Basketball League (NBL) prior to serving in the military during World War II. After the War in 1946 he signed with Cleveland Rebels and after 12 games was traded to the Toronto Hustlers in a three-team deal involving center Connie Simmons, Dick Schulz, Chuck Reiser, and Grady Lewis. It was a known fact that the 6-ft 9 inch, 225-pound Clarence Hermsen knew how to position himself and was aggressive enough to get his fair share of rebounds.
* Joseph 'Chick' Reiser, 5ft 11-inch 165 pound guard Baltimore Bullets - When head coach Buddy Jeannette needed a ballhawking defensive ace who could also score points, he talked his former teammate Chick Reiser, Fort Wayne of the NBL, to join the Baltimore team prior to the opening of the 1947-1948 season. Joe Reiser was a very aggressive basketball player and led his former league with 153 fouls the previous season, 1946-1947. None-the-less he possessed quick moving hands and was among the leaders in steals and turnovers created. He also was an excellent free throw shooter. In his first season season with the Bullets Joseph Reiser made 137-of-185 free throws for a .741 percentage. He played with Fort Wayne a total of 4-years from 1943-44 thru 1946-47 and two with Baltimore 1947-48, 1948-49 and one with Washington 1949-50 and every one of those years those teams made the postseason playoffs. Joseph Resier compiled a career 10.4 points per game average in 171 regular season games.
Two members of the Naismith Hall of Fame, George Mikan and Joe Fulks were 1st and 2nd in scoring in the BAA 1948-1949. Note: the next season the BAA was merged to form the NBA. A 60-game schedule was in effect.
Points Score Leaders 1948-1949
- George Mikan, Minneapolis Lakers 60 games, 1698 points, 28.3 ppg
- Joe Fulks, Philadelphia Warriors 60 games, 1560 points, 26.0 ppg
- Max Zalofsky, Chicago Stag 58 games, 1197 points, 20.6 ppg
- Arnie Risen, Rochester Rockets 60 games, 995 points,16.6 ppg
- Ed Sadowski, Philadelphia Warriors 60 games, 920 points, 15.3 ppg
- Belus Smawley, St Louis Bullets 59 games, 914 points, 15.5 ppg
- Bob Davies, Rochester Rockets 60 games, 904 points, 15.1 ppg
- Kenny Sailors, Providence Steamrollers 57 games, 899 points, 15.8 ppg
- Carl Braun, New York Knicks 57 games, 810 points, 14.2 ppg
- Johnny Logan, St Louis Bullets 57 games, 803 points, 14.1 ppg
Notes: John Logan quit the NBA and later was a star shortstop for the Milwaukees Braves - please see www.baseballhistorian.com
The Providence Steamrollers played in Rhode Island... The Chicago Stag and the St. Louis Bullets dropped out of the NBA after the 1949-50 season.