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American Basketball League (1925–1955): Map


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The American Basketball League was the first true professional basketball league. Where the National Basketball League was made up of smaller town teams, generally sponsored by industrial firms, the ABL was much more ethnic and big city.

Initial teams that dominated the ABL were the Cleveland Rosenblums, the New York Celtics, the Boston Whirlwinds, and the Philadelphia Sphas. Players were generally the children of first generation immigrants, many being Jewish, Italianmarker, and Irishmarker. Nat Holman, Harry Boykoff, Bobby McDermott and Harry Litwak were but a few early stars.

The ABL for many years was the top pro basketball league in the United States of Americamarker, but the teams were generally run by promoters with little or no money. After World War II, the arena owners in the large cities looked to take advantage of the pro basketball following established by these promoters but retain the ownership of the teams for themselves. Hence the Basketball Association of America was formed and the Cleveland Rosenblums became the Cleveland Rebels; the Boston Whirlwinds became the Boston Celtics, and the original Celtics were supplanted by the New York Knickerbockers. In fact, only Eddie Gottlieb, the promoter of the Philadelphia Sphas, survived by working a back room deal with the Philadelphia Arenamarker to keep his Philadelphiamarker operation. Gottlieb retained the Sphas in the ABL while naming the NBA franchise the Warriors.

In the 1940's it was the ABL that sported pro basketball's first 7 footer, Elmore Morgenthaler of the Philadelphia Sphas. Morgenthaler was with the original Toronto Huskies of the NBA before joining the Sphas, where he was legendary, scoring as many as 21 points a game in an era when teams as a whole only averaged scoring in the 50's. The ABL remained basically an East Coast minor pro league into the 1950s.

Complete team list

League Championships

Year Winner Result Runner Up

1925-26 Cleveland Rosenblums 3-0 Brooklyn Arcadians
1926-27 Brooklyn Celtics 3-0 Cleveland Rosenblums
1927-28 Brooklyn Celtics 3-1 Fort Wayne Hoosiers
1928-29 Cleveland Rosenblums 4-0 Fort Wayne Hoosiers
1929-30 Cleveland Rosenblums 4-1 Rochester Centrals
1930-31 Brooklyn Visitations 4-2 Fort Wayne Hoosiers
1931-32 League suspended operations.
1932-33 League suspended operations.
1933-34 Philadelphia Sphas 4-2 Trenton Moose
1934-35 Brooklyn Visitations 3-2 New York Jewels
1935-36 Philadelphia Sphas 4-3 Brooklyn Visitations
1936-37 Philadelphia Sphas 4-3 Jersey Reds
1937-38 Jersey Reds 4-2 New York Jewels
1938-39 New York Jewels 3-0 Jersey Reds
1939-40 Philadelphia Sphas 1-0 Washington Heurich Brewers
1940-41 Philadelphia Sphas 3-1 Brooklyn Celtics
1941-42 Wilmington Blue Bombers Won both halves to claim championship.
1942-43 Philadelphia Sphas 4-3 Trenton Tigers
1943-44 Wilmington Bombers 4-3 Philadelphia Sphas
1944-45 Philadelphia Sphas 2-1 Baltimore Bullets
1945-46 Baltimore Bullets 3-1 Philadelphia Sphas
1946-47 Trenton Tigers Won forfeit, Baltimore Bullets could not play finals
1947-48 Wilkes-Barre Barons 2-1 Paterson Crescents
1948-49 Wilkes-Barre Barons 3-2 Scranton Miners
1949-50 Scranton Miners 1-0 Bridgeport Aer-A-Sols
1950-51 Scranton Miners 1-0 Wilkes-Barre Barons
1951-52 Wilkes-Barre Barons 1-0 Scranton Miners
1952-53 Manchester British-Americans 1-0 Wilkes-Barre Barons
1953-54 League suspended operations.
1954-55 League disbanded.

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