NBA Trivia: Defunct BAA Teams

By Lorenzo Tanos

As we shall note in the next NBA season recap, the Baltimore Bullets (disbanded late 1954) were the last NBA team to disband, and they haven't been followed since by anyone else.  And just when you thought our series on NBA team trivia was over, we're back with two additional team trivia articles for the coming weeks, the first of which will deal with NBA or BAA teams that had disbanded.  These include questions on most of these teams, including the aforementioned Bullets, who are of no relation to the future Washington Wizards.  Next week, we shall move on to the second "bonus" trivia article, which will highlight ABA teams that didn't make it to the ABA when both leagues merged.

1. Which defunct team was the only one to win an NBA or ABA title?

The Baltimore Bullets, in their first season in the BAA after several years in the rival NBL, won the 1947-48 BAA Championship, behind the strong play of big men KleggieHermsen and Mike Bloom, and backcourt men Buddy Jeannette and Chick Reiser.  Jeannette was also the Bullets' head coach during that championship year of theirs, and would remain in charge until the middle of the 1950-51 season, where he was replaced by another player/coach, Walt Budko, who was only 25 when he took over.  By that time, the Bullets were beginning to slip, and they barely lasted a month in the 1954-55 season before disbanding.

2. Among the NBA's one-season wonders, which was the only one to win more than 50% of their games?

The Cleveland Rebels, who played in the BAA's inaugural season, finished at an even 30-30, but the Anderson Packers, who went 37-27 in 1949-50, were actually good enough to reach the NBA Semifinals.  Their top player was Frankie "Flash" Brian, who averaged a then-impressive 17.8 ppg for the team.  They were, however, not an expansion team, having played in the NBL from 1946-49.  After the 1949-50 season, the Packers moved to the short-lived National Professional Basketball League, and folded with the league in 1951.

3. True or False – The Indianapolis Jets and the Indianapolis Olympians are one and the same.

False.  While the Olympians technically replaced the Jets in the NBA, they were an entirely new team in 1949-50, boasting a lineup that featured Alex Groza, Ralph Beard and other recent collegiate stars, mostly from the Kentucky Wildcats.  The Jets, who only played one NBA season (1948-49), fielded a total of 25 players for the year, including Rick Barry's future coach and father-in-law Bruce Hale, George "Blind Bomber" Glamack and top scorer Leo Mogus.

4. Which basketball pioneer coached the Cleveland Rebels for part of their only NBA season?

Dutch Dehnert was a legend in the early 1900s, playing mostly for the Original Celtics and credited as one of the pioneers of low-post play.  In the 1940s, he had transitioned into head coaching, leading the Sheboygan Redskins from 1944 to 1946, then moving to the BAA, where he coached the Cleveland Rebels for 37 games, going 17-20.

5. What was Nat Hickey's claim to fame as a member of the Providence Steamrollers?

ABL and NBL veteran Hickey played just one game for the Providence Steamrollers in 1947-48 and became the oldest player to suit up in the NBA at 45 years and 363 days.  He scored two points, missed all six field goals and committed five fouls.  One may have been better served sticking it out as coach, but then again, he was just 4-25 at the Steamrollers' helm in 1948.

6. True or False – Before Bill Willoughby became the first NBA player in years to debut straight out of high school, the Chicago Stags' Joe Graboski was the youngest player in BAA/NBA history.

False.  Graboski, a 6'7" forward/center who debuted for the Stags out of Chicago's Tuley HS, went on to have a long, successful NBA career, debuting at 18 years, 296 days of age in 1948 and playing till the 1961-62 season.  Still, he wasn't the youngest NBA player at that time; that honor went to the Philadelphia Warriors' Stan Brown (18 years, 139 days), a local Philly high schooler who played two seasons for the Warriors as a reserve forward.

7. How many games did Ed Sadowski last as the Toronto Huskies' player/coach?

Only twelve.  Sadowski was a talented individual alright, a beefy post player who stood 6'5" and weighed at least 240 pounds while averaging 19.1 ppg in ten games for the Huskies.  However, he was also a very difficult man to deal with,  reportedly hot-tempered and quite insistent on being the center of the Huskies' offense.  All it took was 12 games for management to tire of his attitude and ship him off to the Cleveland Rebels in one of the BAA's first-ever trades.

8. True or False – Toronto Huskies center Ralph Siewert never played a game of college basketball.

True.  According to Charley Rosen's book "The First Tip-Off", Siewert had never played basketball in his life when he was signed by the Huskies for the 1946-47 BAA season.  He was apparently signed for only one reason – he stood 7'1".  Still, he couldn't play, and he earned the nickname "Moose" not for any imposing physique, but rather because of his extreme clumsiness.

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