NBRPA Mourns the Passing of Ossie Schectman

July 31, 2013

The NBRPA extends condolences to the family of former NBA player Oscar “Ossie” Schectman, who passed away on July 30 at the age of 94.

Schectman, immortalized for being the first player in NBA history to score a basket, played one season in the NBA for the New York Knicks. The first basket was scored in a game against the Toronto Huskies on November 1, 1946. Schectman was among players from the inaugural N.B.A game who were honored when the Knicks played the Toronto Raptors at the Skydome in 1996 on the 50th anniversary of the league’s debut. “Ossie Schectman was a true NBA pioneer, “NBA Commissioner David Stern said, adding that scoring the league’s first basket “placed him permanently in the annals of NBA history.”

Schectman played for Long Island University teams that won the National Invitation Tournament at Madison Square Garden in 1939, completing an unbeaten season, and again in 1941. Playing for Clair Bee, Schectman was a second-team all-American in 1941 and runner-up as outstanding player in the N.I.T.  After college, Schectman joined the Philadelphia Sphas of the American Basketball League, a team once sponsored by the South Philadelphia Hebrew Association, and then became an original New York Knick. Once his basketball career was complete, Schectman had a long career in the garment industry and then retired to Florida before returning to the New York area few years ago.

Schectman’s pioneering layup inspired the title of “The First Basket,” a 2008 documentary by David Vyorst about the prominence of Jewish basketball players in the first half of the 20th century.

Schectman has been inducted into the New York City Basketball Hall of Fame, the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame and the Long Island University Athletic Hall of Fame.

Schectman is survived by his sons Stewart and Peter; a sister, Sunny Trumer, and two grandchildren. His wife, Evelyn, died in 2011.