Skip to main content

Story About The First NBA Game: Tickets Were Sold For 75 Cents To 2.5 Dollars

Story About The First NBA Game: Tickets Were Sold For 75 Cents To 2.5 Dollars

The NBA is celebrating its 75th anniversary this season. They even went as far as to select the “NBA 75th Anniversary Team” earlier this season.

It's incredible to think that the NBA has been around for 75 years. But let me ask, have you ever wondered what was the first game ever played in the NBA?

If this question has bounced around your head a few times, then you've come to the right place. Let's dive deep into the past, to the beginning of the most popular basketball league in the world. The date was November 1, 1946, the location was Toronto, Canada.

The first-ever game of the NBA, which at the time was known as the Basketball Association of America (BAA), would be played.

In 1946, there were only 11 teams in the league. Only two of the teams, which are the Boston Celtics and New York Knicks, remain in the same location today.

The BAA became the NBA in 1949 after it merged with the National Basketball League (NBL).

Since the game was played in Toronto, Canada, you probably instinctively think of the Raptors, but they wouldn't come around until the 1995-96 NBA season.

For the first game in league history, it would be the Toronto Huskies taking on the New York Knicks. The game was played at Maple Leaf Gardens and over 7000 spectators came to see the game.

New York Knicks
Toronto Huskies

It was fitting that the first NBA game would be played in Canada, as the inventor of basketball, James Naismith, was a Canadian.

The prices of the first NBA game are crazy enough to take your breath away. Seats were sold for 75 cents, $1.25, $2.00, and $2.50.

If you compare this to today's ticket prices, you'll see how much the times have changed. The average ticket price today is $210.57.

Here are the top five teams with the highest average ticket prices:

- Golden State Warriors: $589

- Los Angeles Lakers: $562

- New York Knicks: $394

- Brooklyn Nets: $339

- Boston Celtics: $309

Even crazier than the incredible ticket prices was the marketing campaign the Huskies used to draw fans to the game.

A newspaper ad offered free admission for any fan who stood taller than player George Nostrand, who was 6-foot-8.

First NBA Game
First NBA Game

A part of the reasoning why the tickets were only 75 cents to 2.5 dollars could be attributed to the fact the average family income in 1946 was $3,000.

The average NBA player salary of 2021-22 is $8.25 million. The top salary belongs to Stephen Curry at $45.7 million.

The average salary for a player in the 1946-47 season was $5,000. These players truly played for the love of the game.

Fans who either paid the cheap ticket prices or were fortunate enough to be taller than Nostrand would witness the first scored basket in what would become the NBA.

A player named Ossie Schectman, who played for the Knicks, scored the first basket in league history.

“I scored on a two-handed underhand layup,” Schectman said in an interview with ESPN.com, “which was the standard chippy shot back then. I also remember being on the receiving end of a give-and-go, but I can’t remember who I received the pass from.”

The Knicks would win the game 68-66. This game would be one of the highest-scoring games of the 1946-47 season.

The shot clock hadn't been invented yet, and teams would often dribble the time down when they had a lead.

Ed Sadowski of the losing Toronto Huskies led all scorers with 18 points.

According to the NBA.com:

Technology has changed so much of how we consume and follow the game – from color televisions, to high definition screens, to the super slow-motion phantom cameras that allow fans to view the game and the amazing feats of athleticism on display every night; as well as tracking cameras that provide more data than the founders of the game could have possibly imaged.

Keep in mind, this is what the box score from the first game in league history looked like — taken from the Nov. 2 edition of the New York Times:

First NBA Game - The New York Times

Field goals, free throws and points – those are the stats that were made available in newspapers the morning after a game. Of course, there was no 3-point line as that was not introduced until the 1979-80 season. Now we receive a plethora of stats in real time, and detailed player-tracking data within an hour of the final buzzer that can tell us how far and how fast a player moved, how many times he dribbled the ball and how close he was defended on his shots.

First NBA Game - The New York Times

In the inaugural season, teams played 60 games. The Washington Capitols, who were coached by future Celtics great, Red Auerbach, won a league-best 49 games.

Joe Fulks of the Philadelphia Warriors became the first player to lead the league in scoring with 23.2. He shot a dismal 30.5% from the field.

The first finals in league history saw those Philadelphia Warriors playing against the Chicago Stags.

The Warriors would win the series and the first league championship 4-1. Fulks led all scoring in the finals with 26.2.

Two years after that first game in Toronto, a player by the name of Bob “Foothills” Kurland is credited for completing a basketball move that would soon help popularize the game.

In 1944, during a college basketball game, Kurland reportedly dunked the ball accidentally. This accident credited Kurland as the first player to dunk in a basketball game.

“The ball happened to be under the basket. I got it up and stuffed it in,” Kurland said. “That started it, I guess. It was an unintentional accident. It wasn't planned, just a spontaneous play in Philadelphia.”

Even though most people credit Kurland as the first player to dunk a basketball, in the 1936 Olympics, USA player, Joe Fortenberry, reportedly became the first player to dunk in an organized game.

During warm-ups, Fortenberry would practice his unique “layups” with the New York Times saying that it was as if “Fortenberry reached up and pitched the ball downward into the hoop, much like a cafeteria customer dunking a roll into their coffee.”

Then during the Olympic Games, Fortenberry would continually use his dunk against the smaller opponents, which would help the USA team make the Gold Medal game to face Canada.

The USA team would defeat Canada 19–8, to win the Gold, and it was said the reason the USA team won so easily was because of “Fortenberry being able to dunk so effortlessly”.

There have been two other and earlier accounts of possible dunks by players. In 1935, a player from the University of California named Bernard “Darney” Dobbas, reportedly made a “dunk shot” in a game:

“The six-foot-two center busted through again and dribbled down court for another ‘dunk’ shot to give his team a 33-32 lead,” reported the Woodland Daily Democrat.

It's not certain if this dunk shot was an actual dunk as we know it, or some other shot since in the mid-1900s, “dunk” simply meant to score in any way.

It was even reported in a basketball game played in Troy, New York, during the early 1910s, a player named Jack Inglis essentially made the first alley-oop dunk.

In “Tales from the 1969–1970 New York Knicks” author Bill Gutman said Inglis:

“Jumped up alongside the basket, grabbed the cage, and pulled himself up alongside the basket. While the defenders looked up at him helplessly, a teammate passed him the ball. Inglis caught it while hanging onto the cage with one hand and dropped it through the basket.”

No matter who truly dunked the ball first, we as basketball fans must give credit to the players who started the game we all love.

From that first game in Toronto, where fans watched the game for only 75 cents to 2.5 dollars. To the game today being on a global level.

We all must appreciate the history of the game and continue to be excited for what the future holds for the NBA.

Next

Career Highs For 15 Dominant NBA Players: Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James

Every NBA Franchises Best Wins/Loss Season: Warriors 73 Wins Is Impossible To Beat

10 Best Scorers In Chicago Bulls History: Michael Jordan Raised The Bar Too High

Closest Active Player To Reaching All-Time Records: LeBron James And Stephen Curry Are Chasing History

NBA Mount Rushmore: The Best Players At Each Position