Today in Sports History: November 1st

11/01/1946 - The first pro basketball game
At Maple Leafs Gardens, the New York Knickerbockers beat the Toronto Huskies 68-66 in the inaugural game of the Basketball Association of America. Ossie Schectman of the Knicks scored the league's first points with a layup (that's a trivia question folks). Three years later, the BAA merged with the National Basketball League, thus creating the National Basketball Association. The NBA officially recognizes the Huskies/Knicks game as the first ever NBA game.

Back then, the game was a million miles from where it is today. For one thing, it was a few years before African Americans were allowed to play in the league, and the white guys who were there were some of the skinniest guys on the planet. Dunking was nonexistent and even hitting the rim was a violation; the foul limit was five and not six; and ticket prices ranged from $2.50 to seventy-five cents. The most famous thing to come out of the Huskies-Knicks game was a flier stating that anyone taller than 6'8'' George Nostrand, the Huskies' center, could get in for free.

Exactly fifty years later, in a game between the New York Knicks and the Toronto Raptors, living members of the first game met in celebration of the league's golden anniversary. The Knicks beat the Raptors 107-99 at the Skydome, avenging their loss from 50 years ago. 11/01/1991 - 20,000 leagues under the sheets

Wilt Chamberlain's infamous autobiography, "A View From Above," is published. The book detailed stages of Chamberlain's life, how he barnstormed with the Harlem Globetrotters, scored 100 points in a single game, starred in the cult movie "Conan the Destroyer," and became an elite volleyball player. Mostly though, the book focused on his personal life and his thoughts and opinions on the NBA.

No facet of Chamberlain's life had more people talking than what was written in chapter eleven, which was titled: "On Sex and Love: What Rules the World." In it, Chamberlain stated that he had slept with more than 20,000 women over the course of his life. "At my age, that equals out to having sex with 1.2 women a day, everyday since I was fifteen years old," he wrote.

It was a memorable boast. To most people, Chamberlain's exploits on the basketball court became irrelevant as he became known as the man with an extraordinarily-high sex count. While Wilt had bragged about it for years, he came under stark criticism by many, who saw his retelling of his sexual escapades inappropriate in light of the AIDS outbreak. Others simply didn't believe him and saw the number as laughably high. Wilt later said he regretted writing the passage and attempted several mea culpas before he passed away in 1999.

11/01/2004 - D'backs hire Wally Backman

In their first move of the offseason, the Arizona Diamondbacks hire Wally Backman, the scrappy second baseman for the '86 New York Mets, to be their manager. The Diamondbacks were coming off a disastrous 51-111 season and were in desperate need of a stable manager. Ken Kendrick, the D'backs primary owner, explained why he thought Backman was perfect for the job:

"He is absolutely a first-class person," Kendrick said. "He's a guy with a great baseball career. He was a guy who in his playing days was known as a hard-nosed, take-no-prisoners kind of player. We're very confident that he's going to perform at a very high level for the Diamondbacks."

The D'backs-Backman tandem ended before it even began. Just one day after being introduced, reports surfaced about transgressions involving Wally that had not been on his resume. Among them: a DUI, a post-marital restraining order, pleading guilty to misdemeanor harassment, getting a divorce, filing for bankruptcy, attending anger management classes, and paying a $1000 fine.

D'Backs management sheepishly admitted that an elaborate background check had not been conducted. They initially stood by and defended him, but with the franchise desperate to turn the page on their 111-loss season, Backman was fired only four days after his hiring -- maybe the quickest dismissal in baseball history.

"I take full responsibility for that, and I'm very sorry," Kendrick said.

Former Mariners skipper Bob Melvin was hired as his replacement. He lasted until 2009.

Further reading:
NBA pioneer is no old fogey [ESPN]

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