Documenting Jewish hoops

Ossie Schectman, a Jewish kid from Brooklyn, made the first basket for the New York Knickerbockers in on Nov. 1, 1946, in the first game of the fledgling Basketball Association of America, against the Toronto Huskies.

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Three years later, the league became the NBA.

Schectman’s shot is considered the first NBA points.

Who knew?

In the documentary, “The First Basket,” (official movie link here) more little-known history of the Jews and basketball come to light. The hour-and-a-half flick directed by David Vyorst and narrated by Peter Riegert opens in Southern California on Friday at Laemmle’s Music Hall in Beverly Hills, the Town Center in Encino and the Fallbrook 7 in West Hills.

After the game of basketball was invented by Dr. James Naismith in Springfield, Mass., the game spread through New York settlement houses and proved a perfect fit for urban Jewish kids. By the 1920s, basketball had become a staple of life in American Jewish communities, and many of the top teams grew out of these neighborhoods.

“The First Basket” uncovers the influence that these Jewish pioneers had on the evolution of basketball as it grew from a game played with ash cans on tenement steps.

Red Holzman, Dolph Schayes, Red Sarachek, Barney Sedran, Eddie Gottleib, Abe Saperstein, Ralph Kaplowitz, Sammy Kaplan and many more are featured.

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