The Chosen Game


The Chosen Game

A Jewish Basketball History

Charley Rosen

224 pages


November 2017


$24.95 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)

(Requires Adobe Digital Editions)

November 2017


$24.95 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)

(Requires Adobe Digital Editions)

November 2017


$24.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

A few years after its invention by James Naismith, basketball became the primary sport in the crowded streets of the Jewish neighborhood on New York’s Lower East Side. Participating in the new game was a quick and enjoyable way to become Americanized. Jews not only dominated the sport for the next fifty‑plus years but were also instrumental in modernizing the game.

Barney Sedran was considered the best player in the country at the City College of New York from 1909 to 1911. In 1927 Abe Saperstein took over management of the Harlem Globetrotters, playing a key role in popularizing and integrating the game. Later he helped found the American Basketball Association and introduced the three-point shot. More recently, Nancy Lieberman played in a men’s pro summer league and became the first woman to coach a men’s pro team, and Larry Brown became the only coach to win both NCAA and the NBA championships.

While the influence of Jewish players, referees, coaches, and administrators has gradually diminished since the mid‑1950s, the current basketball scene features numerous Jews in important positions.

Through interviews and lively anecdotes from franchise owners, coaches, players, and referees, The Chosen Game explores the contribution of Jews to the evolution of present-day pro basketball.

Author Bio

Charley Rosen is a writer whose work appears regularly on He previously worked as an NBA analyst for and is the author of twenty-one sports books, including Perfectly Awful: The Philadelphia 76ers’ Horrendous and Hilarious 1972–1973 Season (Nebraska, 2014) and Crazy Basketball: A Life In and Out of Bounds (Nebraska, 2011). He has coauthored two books with NBA coach Phil Jackson.


“A welcome addition to sports literature. . . . Rosen—a former college hoopster, pro coach, and prolific author, packs a ton of information in his compact narrative. . . . Readers familiar with Rosen's previous tomes will no doubt enjoy his witty commentary, elegant prose, and self-deprecating humor.”—Joseph Dorinson, Arete

"Readers (from teens to adults) who are interested in Jewish participation in sports will find this book worthwhile."—Fred Isaac, Association of Jewish Libraries Reviews

“Before basketball was the ‘city game,’ it was a ‘Jewish game.’ No one is better equipped than roundball aficionado and NBA-insider Charley Rosen to skillfully chronicle Jewish presence in the world of hoops, on and off the court.”—Jeffrey S. Gurock, author of Judaism’s Encounter with American Sports

"Packed with a lot of information in less than 200 pages of text, this book makes a good addition to the library of readers who are basketball historians or those who wish to learn more about the role of Jews in the "American" game."—Lance Smith, Guy Who Reviews Sports Books

Table of Contents

Preface: Promise in the Promised Land    
1. In the Beginning    
2. Busy Izzies Take Over    
3. Beyond the Izzies    
4. Enter Sir Nat    
5. Gotty and the SPAHS    
6. Taking over the Game    
7. The Barnum of Basketball    
8. About All-Americans, Blackbirds, the Olympic Games, and the Rosenblums    
9. The SPAHS, the Crown Jewels, and the ABL    
10. The War Years    
11. The Penguin and the Birth of the BAA    
12. Too Many Jews on the Knicks    
13. The Iron Man, Moe, and the Apprenticeship of Red Auerbach    
14. Gotty Wins Again and a Crooked Ref    
15. The Fix and Close Shaves    
16. The Scandals of ’51    
17. Murray’s in the Mountains    
18. If It’s Broken, Keep Fixing It    
19. David Beats Goliath Again    
20. Molinas Redux    
21. The Jewish Olympics    
22. Some More Blue-Chip Jewish Hoopers    
23. The Coaches    
24. NBA Owners and Bigwigs    
25. Recent Notable Players    
26. The Jewish Jordan    
Appendix: Jews in the Naismith Hall of Fame    

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