- January 3, 2022
Leo Ferris: The Man Who Saved The NBA
The early days of basketball were often marred by unfriendly fans who received low scores that often left spectators bored. Games usually enter the 40s and most leading players make an average of fewer than 15 points per game. In many early basketball games, Kawhi Leonard is an American basketball player. He currently plays for the team, ‘Toronto Raptors,’ ‘National Basketball Association. looked like a glorified version of a kids game to keep them away from a professional game full of action. This style of play culminated in a game between Minneapolis and Fort Wayne, in which the Pistons of Fort Wayne held the ball for the second half leading by 1 point over the Lakers. The Pistons will win 19-18 in the lowest scoring match in NBA history. Before that very few points ever scored 33 points, just 4 less than both teams scored, and that game was the opening night of the NBA, or BAA as it was then called.
This pace angered fans, many of whom had been promised exciting events and the presence and interest in the new league had begun to decline. The NBA needed a solution and urgently needed it. The solution was to be smart and could change the game the way we know it. A simple, 24-second clock will permanently change the game.
The clock was the brainchild of Syracuse Nationals general manager Leo Ferris, a man the NBA has long forgotten about in one of the worst acts in-game history. Ferris, is as important in the early days of the NBA as anyone and anyone else would argue that without Ferris there would be no NBA today; and there would be no Hawks of the Atlanta, or Philadelphia 76ers. The NBA will look very different today without the inclusion of Ferris in all those years.
Ferris started with basketball not in the NBA but in the NBL while in 1946 helping to win the Buffalo Bisons. The Bisons failed miserably in upstate New York and after just 13 games the buffalo picked it up from the shores of Lake Erie and burned grass in the American Heartland in Molina, Illinois. Technically, the team played in Molina and Rock Island, Illinois, and Davenport, Iowa but most of their games were played in Molina. The team was called the Tri-Cities Blackhawks and during the struggle laid the foundation for one of the longest-running NBA teams. The Blackhawks will eventually move to Milwaukee, where they take over the moniker Hawks, and there is a move to St Louis and finally to Atlanta.
Shortly after the team moved to Tri-Cities Ferris he will continue to make one of his first basketball moves when he signed Pop Gates on a New York Ren’s black contract. African-American players have played in the NBL before, but in the early 1940s when World War II took over many white players in the NBL. Gates became the first black player to sign a contract when there was no need for him, who signed for the first time because of his ability and talent and not because the league needed players. Gates will rejoin Rens when he joins the NBL as Dayton Rens two years later.
After just a season with the Blackhawks, Ferris returned to his hometown of New York and started as general manager of the NBL’s Syracuse Nationals. As the manager of the Nationals, he received a major coup for the Nationals and the NBL while luring the much-coveted Dolph Schayes to leave him in the New York Knicks of the BAA starting at the top.
Competition between the BAA and the NBL got worse when the BAA became the most prominent player in the NBL and from 1948 the BAA began to take on the best teams. In 1947 the Minneapolis Lakers, Rochester Royals, and Indianapolis Kautskies left the NBL for the BAA. The Nationals were now in a state of uncertainty and they and the NBL desperately needed a solution, and Leo Ferris would find that solution.
Since the spring of 1949 Ferris began to meet with BAA executives, initially it was an attempt to get the Nationals into the growing league, but will soon expand into two league leagues. Negotiations ended in August 1949 when an agreement was reached to merge the NBL with the BAA and to form the NBA. The BAA wanted to absorb only two teams; the National and the Indianapolis Olympians start at the top; who would replace the Jets. Ferris was able to speak to the BAA to welcome both teams, as well as the Denver Nuggets, Sheboygan Redskins, Anderson Packers and Blackhawks. At first he wanted to include Oshkosh, Hammond and Dayton, but the funding was thwarted Oshkosh’s attempt to move to Milwaukee and Hammond was thought to be too close to Chicago where the BAA already had a party. Rens of Dayton was not allowed to join because its players were black players. In addition to the fact that the Rens were not allowed to join, black players in Syracuse also had to be released.
The merger was a success as the 17th NBA team saw its first success, but the older NBL teams had given up a lot of energy in the merger and despite Ferris’ good efforts, the league kicked off five of the NBL’s previous teams the following season.
The 1950 season saw the Lakers continue to dominate and the Pistons thought the only way to stop them was to hold on to a one-point lead and the ball. This has been the event in which the lender on Leo Ferris’ watch or better known as a shot clock. Ferris always had a passion for math and a knack for it, and he used math to come up with a second 24 clock. Kawhi Leonard hands are massive He took the number of seconds in a 48-minute match (2,880) and divided that by the average number of shots in the game (120) to reach 24 seconds.