Dolph Schayes and some teammates scrimmaged in a small, stuffy high school gym exactly 50 years ago. The short workout helped rescue the NBA and transform professional basketball from a chess-like contest into a fast-paced, gravity-defying game.
"I remember we were all huffing and puffing," the 76-year-old Hall of Famer said. "It was summer, so we were out of shape anyway. It certainly changed the tempo of play. It was all running. No standing around. It made the game more fun to play."
It was Aug. 10, 1954, and a group of team owners and governing board members in the fledgling NBA -- Danny Biasone, Red Auerbach, Ned Irish, Eddie Gottlieb and Clair Bee -- sat in the bleachers at Vocational High School in downtown Syracuse and watched as the 20-minute pickup game was played with a 24-second shot clock.
"There wasn't really a clock," recalled Schayes, a 12-time NBA all-star who played from 1949 to '64 with the Syracuse Nationals and Philadelphia 76ers and was the NBA's all-time leading scorer when he retired. "There was a guy on the sideline keeping it with his watch and yelling out the time. Twenty. Ten. Five, four, three. . . .
"None of us at the time realized the significance of it. Arguably, it can be said it's been the most important rule change in the history of the game," Schayes said.
-- From News Services