Benjamin ‘Ossie’ Schectman, a member of the Long Island Blackbirds from 1938 to 1941, passed away on Tuesday morning at the age of 94. Schectman is most remembered as the player who scored the first-ever basket in NBA history as a player for the New York Knicks.
Schectman was a member of two NIT championship teams with LIU back in 1939 and in 1941, back when the NIT was “the” tournament.
Schectman was a New Yorker through and through. He was born in Kew Gardens, Queens and then raised in Manhattan. He would then play his high school basketball at Tilden High School in the East Flatbush section of Brooklyn before coming to LIU. At LIU, he played under Basketball Hall of Famer Clair Bee. In his first year in 1938-39, LIU went 23-0 and captured their first-ever national championship. In 1940-41, he would be named first-team All-America and would help LIU win their second NIT championship. In his three seasons at LIU, his teams went 67-6.
After LIU, Schectman went on to play professionally for the Philadelphia Sphas of the American Basketball League where he would win two championships in that league. He played for the Sphas until 1946 when he left to join the New York Knicks of the new Basketball Association of America which would later become the NBA.
On November 1, 1946, in the Knicks first-ever game versus the Toronto Huskies at Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens, Schectman would score the first-ever NBA basket on a underhanded two-hand layup. The Knicks would win that first game 68-66. He would only play in the NBA that one season before returning back to the ABL. Here is YouTube footage of that first-ever NBA basket:
Ossie Schectman has been inducted into the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 1998 and then inducted in the LIU Athletics Hall of Fame in 2001.
LIU Athletics also has written an article on their official website mourning the loss of Ossie Schectman. Here is the link to their article.
Schectman is survived by his wife and two sons.