NEW YORK (JTA) – Hank Rosenstein, who played for a mostly Jewish New York Knicks team that took part in what is considered the NBA’s first game in 1946, has died.
Rosenstein, a member of the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, died Saturday in Boca Raton, Fla., of heart failure, The New York Times reported. He was 89.
Rosenstein, who at 6 foot, 4 inches played in the frontcourt, was one of eight Jewish Knickerbockers when they played the Toronto Huskies in Toronto on Nov. 1, 1946 in the debut of the new Basketball Association of America. He scored five points in a game won by the Knicks, 68-66.
The BAA merged with the National Basketball League in 1949 to form the National Basketball Association, and the NBA considers the Knicks-Huskies game its first.
Rosenstein was traded to the Providence Steamrollers, then helped the Scranton Miners of the American Basketball League to championships in 1949-50 and 1950-51, according to the Times. In the latter season, he led the team in scoring with an average of 11.7 points.
He later became a coach in the semipro Eastern Pro League.
Rosenstein, who also starred at Boys High School in Brooklyn and City College, was inducted into the Jewish Hall of Fame in 1998 and the New York City Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007.