NBA 75th Anniversary Season

Knicks-Raptors honors history behind NBA's 1st game anniversary

The Knicks and Raptors played to commemorate the NBA's original opening night matchup 75 years ago.

Brian Mahoney | The Associated Press

Isiah Thomas and Candace Parker discuss the 75th anniversary of the first NBA game ever played.

NEW YORK — The NBA celebrated the 75th anniversary of its first game Monday with a New York-Toronto matchup, the same as was played on Nov. 1, 1946.

So much is different, though.

For one, it isn’t even that Toronto franchise. The team the Knicks beat 68-66 that night was the Huskies, who played only that one season in the NBA.

For another, that game was played at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto, in front of a crowd of just 7,090. Maple Leaf Gardens is now Ryerson’s Mattamy Athletic Centre — and the lower level is a Loblaws supermarket, as Raptors coach Nick Nurse learned when he first moved into town.

“I lived right up there by Maple Leaf Gardens I think my first year in Toronto and now it’s a grocery store,” Nurse said. “I went in there, I saw the sign on the pillar there and I was taking pictures of that going, ‘Man, that’s incredible.’ Like, I didn’t even know that.”

“None of the writers really believed that we were better than the college teams. So we actually had to go to their gyms to prove that we were better than the college teams,” Bud Palmer, who played for the Knicks from 1946-49, said in a video the NBA played on the overhead scoreboard at Madison Square Garden.

The league recently announced a 75th Anniversary Team of the top players in NBA history to kick off the season-long celebration. The Knicks honored four of their players who were voted onto it during the first quarter of Monday’s game, as Walt Frazier, Earl Monroe and Bob McAdoo took the court along with Peter DeBusschere, whose late father, Dave, was selected.