Distinguished Alumni Award
2013 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient
OSCAR "OSSIE" B. SCHECTMAN '41
Retd. Professional Basketball Player/Garment District Salesman
Brooklyn Distinguished Alumnus
A pioneer of the National Basketball Association, Oscar “Ossie” B. Schectman scored the very first basket in league history.
Raised in Manhattan and East Flatbush, Brooklyn, Mr. Schectman began his playing career at Samuel J. Tilden High School in Brooklyn. Later, playing guard and forward for legendary coach Clair Bee, Mr. Schectman helped lead LIU Brooklyn’s undefeated 1939 NIT and national championship team. In 1941, he was named Converse first-team All-American.
Mr. Schectman graduated from LIU with a bachelor’s degree, then joined the Philadelphia Sphas (the South Philadelphia Hebrew Association) in the American Basketball League. The Sphas won the league championship in his second season, with Mr. Schectman finishing second in the league in scoring.
Mr. Schectman remained with the Sphas until 1946, before joining a new league called the Basketball Association of America. On Nov. 1, 1946, in the opening game of the fledgling BAA, Mr. Schectman sank the opening basket for the New York Knickerbockers against the Toronto Huskies. He and his teammates went on to win the game, 68–66, and finish the season with a 33–27 record. In 1949, the BAA became the NBA, with league officials acknowledging that Mr. Schectman's shot was the first made basket in the NBA.
Among his honors, Mr. Schectman is prominently featured in the documentary film, The First Basket, about Jewish basketball history. He was inducted into the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 1998 and the Long Island University Athletic Hall of Fame in 2000. He is a member of the New York City Basketball Hall of Fame and is included in the Jewish Museum of Florida as a noteworthy athlete.
After his time on the court, Mr. Schectman enjoyed a successful career in business, working in sales for over three decades in Manhattan’s garment district, eventually retiring from Collins and Aikman.
Mr. Schectman and his late wife, Evelyn, have two children, Stewart and Peter, and two grandchildren. He lives in New City in Rockland County.
Set-shooter, playmaker, All-American, Ossie Schectman was a college star on the great LIU Brooklyn teams that won the prestigious National Invitation Tournament in 1939 and 1941. He helped to make LIU a household name in the world of college basketball. Later, he played on the first Knicks team in 1946, scoring the first points in the history of the NBA.
Ossie Schectman also performed with dedication in other areas of his life. He served his country as a member of the Air Corps during World War II. He had a thriving career in the garment industry. And he is a great family man. Today, we commend Ossie Schectman for his pioneering efforts with the Distinguished Alumnus Award.