Philadelphia Warriors Win First TitlePosted: April 22, 2011 | Author: Lalli | Filed under: Basketball | Tags: 1940s | 3 Comments »
On this date in 1947, the Philadelphia Warriors defeated the Chicago Stags 83-80 in Game 5 of the best of seven series to win the first championship in NBA history. Paced by the league’s leading scorer, “Jumpin” Joe Fulks, the Warriors cruised through the series (their only loss coming by one point on the road when Fulks was in foul trouble) against the #1 seed of the Western Division.
The league, then known as the Basketball Association of America, had been founded in the summer of 1946 by the owners of the large sports arenas in the Northeast and Midwest. The BAA was an 11-team league made up of the Chicago Stags, Cleveland Rebels, Detroit Falcons, Philadelphia Warriors, Pittsburgh Ironmen, Providence Steamrollers, St. Louis Bombers, as well as the Boston Celtics and the New York Knickerbockers (the only two teams to continue in the same city with the same name since the inception of the league).
The Warriors were coached by Eddie Gottlieb, a long-time figurehead in Philadelphia sports. “The Mogul” played for Southern and won the public league championship in 1914. Then in 1918, he organized a team that included several of his high school teammates as well as some of his high school opponents. The SPHAs, sponsored by the South Philadelphia Hebrew Association, barnstormed across the country playing in and winning various professional leagues.
The most notable player on the ’46-’47 Warriors was Joe Fulks, a 6’5″ forward who perfected the jump shot. Fulks won the BAA scoring title that year averaging over 23 points per game…without a shot clock and his margin over the second best scorer in the league was nearly 7 points. During the series against the Stags, Fulks averaged 26.2 points per game, including outbursts of 37 in Game 1 and 34 in Game 5. Below is video of Fulk’s performance in Game 1:
Although not as spectacular a performer, center Art Hillhouse deserves mention here. Hillhouse averaged less than 9 points per game throughout the ’47 playoffs, but did something in the finals that no player has since accomplished. He fouled out of every single game.
In the team picture at the top, you’ll also see Matt Guokas. Sadly, after the championship season, Guokas was involved in a car accident that resulted in an amputated right leg and the end of his playing career. He turned to broadcasting and in 1953 became the public address announcer for the Philadelphia Eagles. For more than three decades, Guokas was the voice of the Eagles, calling games at Shibe Park, Franklin Field and the Vet. His son, Matt Guokas, Jr., also played professional basketball in Philadelphia and was on the 1967 NBA Champion 76ers. The Guokases were the first father-son combination to have won NBA titles as players; they’ve since been joined by the Barrys and Waltons.