The early days of the NBA are incredibly funny to watch

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This free throw form made me laugh so hard, I’d do anything to see someone try and bring this back.

Alex Kajda, Staff Writer

Basketball has become a major American pastime in the last few decades due to icons such as Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, and LeBron James becoming some of the biggest sports superstars, not just across the U.S, but globally as well. That being said, the game has changed heavily since James Naismith’s inception of the sport in the late 19th century. The game continues to evolve at an exponential rate with the increase in athleticism and installation of new systems along with the addition of international players. However, stumbling across the early days of the league, I’m surprised the sport didn’t disintegrate quickly as what I saw was shocking and absolutely hilarious as well.

To start with some backstory, a few months back, my father, who often goes to Goodwill or the local flea market to usually buy vinyl records or other random accessories, came home with an incredibly interesting find. He showed me that he got the 1944, 1945, and 1946 yearbooks from St. Pete High which he found at Goodwill. Looking through, it was incredibly interesting to view how high school life was back then, especially during the wartime years.

However, I stumbled across the sports section where various scores of the seasons the school had were written and I was truly shocked. In the basketball section, there were scores such as 31-19, or 15-14, which made me wonder why anyone would attend those games. People actually showed up to watch games that finished with scores like that, no dunking, no highlight reel blocks, no crossovers, nothing. It’s quite jarring how the high flying, entertaining style of East Lake basketball is today and how much of a thrill watching those games are, compared to the snooze fests of the past.

Enter what I saw this past week, I was entertained by the early years by the NBA, which began play in 1946. Since the years leading up to the arrival of greats such as Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain in the late 50s seemed to have been wiped from memory and swallowed into a black hole, I wondered if any footage existed of these past games, and sure I found a highlight reel from a New York Knickerbockers vs. Fort Wayne Pistons game on January 7th, 1950. And it was probably one of the funniest things I’ve seen.

First of all, the game is so slow and nobody’s doing any cool crossovers, dunks, or anything. It’s basically all fundamentals and random shots that are prayers to go in. This was also before the introduction of the shot clock in 1954, meaning teams could hold on to the ball all they want and keep passing. I saw some terrible hook shots, turnovers on top of turnovers, and awful jump shots. My favorite part of the video has to be at the 1:30 mark, in which a player has an inexcusable free throw form in which he stands on one leg and shoots with one hand; this made me laugh so hard upon seeing it, I couldn’t believe it. The game finished with a score of 88-80, which isn’t terrible, but the combined field goal percentage of 32% sure is.

Watching it was incredibly interesting to compare. I see kids at the local park who could have easily put up incredible stats and could probably have been MVP in those times. The game is so much different now and has evolved incredibly fast. One thing I do have to say is, the game back then relied a lot more on set plays and teamwork, with a lot of passing involved, which is something that today’s game lacks a little bit. However, I’d much rather see today’s game played ten times over than what I saw there.

A little blast to the past really made me think and actually interested me a lot. The game has evolved incredibly since those early years and I’m glad that the game is far more entertaining now. Who knows, maybe 30 years in the future, we’ll look back the same way to today’s game, as I did to those early years of the league.