In the first season of the BAA, the precursor to the modern-day NBA, a new professional star emerged. Joe Fulks, a 6-foot-5 forward from Kentucky, averaged 23.2 ppg, an astonishing amount considering most games were won by teams scoring in the 70s and 80s and nearly seven points per game more than any other player in the league. In fact, no team averaged more than 80 points a game.
Field goal percentages were in the 30 percent range, and Ernest Calverley of the Providence Steamrollers led the league with 3.4 assists per game. Other stars in the fledgling league were Washington’s Bob Feerick and Bones McKinney, Detroit’s Stan Miasek and Chicago’s Max Zaslofsky.
The 60-game regular season belonged to the Washington Capitols, coached by Red Auerbach to a 49-11 record, including a 29-1 mark at home. But in the playoffs, Chicago shocked the Capitols behind the play of Max Zaslofsky and center Chuck Halbert to advance to The Finals. Philadelphia, coached by Eddie Gottlieb, who had the most extensive pro background of anyone in the BAA, defeated St. Louis and New York to advance to The Finals. Fulks, Howie Dallmar and Angelo Musi led Philadelphia past Chicago as the Warriors won the first league title 4-1.
The debut season closed with neither a bang nor a whimper. The new league was acknowledged, with small items on the local teams appearing in newspapers. Television was still in the future, and radio broadcasts were hardly universal.
Still, the franchises did play in major arenas, such as Boston Garden, Madison Square Garden and Chicago Stadium, with most of the teams sharing the buildings with hockey teams. The Finals games in Philadelphia were sellouts, and members of the victorious Warriors pocketed about $2,000 per man in prize money — almost half a season’s pay for most.
New York defeated Cleveland (2-1)
Philadelphia defeated St. Louis (2-1)
Chicago defeated Washington (4-2)
Philadelphia defeated New York (2-0)
Philadelphia defeated Chicago (4-1)
Points — Joe Fulks, Philadelphia Warriors (23.2)
Assists — Ernie Calverley, Providence Steam Rollers (3.4)
FG% — Bob Feerick, Washington Capitols (40.1)
FT% — Fred Scolari, Washington Capitols (81.1)