Ossie Schectman, the NBA’s first scorer, died on Tuesday at the age of 94. Schectman scored the first-ever basket in NBA history while playing with the New York Knicks.
The NBA was then known as the Basketball Association America and the basket was made on November 1, 1946. Schectman’s basket helped the Knicks beat the Toronto Huskies 68-66.
Schectman went on to average 8.1 points for the league’s first-ever season, reports The Washington Post. It was his only year with the franchise.
But the milestone wasn’t discovered or acknowledged for more than two decades. The league researched some of its points milestones in 1988 and discovered Schectman’s accomplishment, being the first of 3,779 players to score a point in a regular-season NBA game.
NBA Commissioner David Stern acknowledged the accomplishment in a statement about Ossie Schectman’s death, calling the 94-year-old a “true NBA pioneer.” Stern added that scoring the NBA’s first basked “placed him permanently in the annals of NBA history.”
The New York Times notes that Schectman left the team the next year, deciding he could better support his family as a salesman. But the experience stayed with him for the rest of his life. He once recalled, “I’m just proud… to have been one of the NBA’s pioneers.”
The former Knicks guard’s son, Peter Schectman, confirmed his father’s death, but didn’t say the location. He died after developing complications related to respiratory failure. Peter remembered growing up with his father, how the former NBA player never mentioned how he was the league’s first scorer. Schectman explained:
“He probably didn’t concentrate on it. He was the captain of the team, and the idea was to win ballgames. It wasn’t discussed that much. He certainly never boasted about it, but when the time came up and it was brought into the light, it was thrilling for him.”
While he was never inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame, Ossie Schectman joined the New York City Basketball Hall of Fame in 1994. He was also central to the documentary The First Basket.
[Image via ShutterStock]