On April 10, 1955, the National Basketball Association (NBA) finals went to a seventh game. The location was the Onondaga County War Memorial in Syracuse, New York. Built less than four years prior, it was to host the biggest sporting event in its young history.
The teams playing the game were the Syracuse Nationals and the Fort Wayne Pistons. Each team had won their three games on home courts. As it turns out, the seventh game was no different but it went down to the final seconds and a comeback by the Nationals who were down by 17 points in the third quarter.
Last Friday was April 10, 2015, 60 years to the day the Syracuse Nationals won. The Syracuse Crunch, along with its owner, Howard Dolgon, celebrated the 60th anniversary at center ice where the wooden basketball court had been. I had the honor of photographing and meeting three of the four living Syracuse Nationals players Dolph Schayes, Billy Kenville and Jim Tucker after they received their rings. You see, back in the NBA of the 1950’s, players got commemorative water buckets. Rings are so much better.
For more about how these men enjoyed and appreciated the gifts, read Syracuse.com columnist Sean Kirst’s article: After 60 years, rings and thanks for the Nats, our NBA champions: ‘This is what Syracuse is’
While I would not be born for another fours years later, I do have a personal connection to to the game. My father and uncle attended and was part of the 6,000 plus spectators on hand to witness the Nationals winning the NBA championship. Over the years, my uncle and father often talked of being at the game.
To see how the Syracuse Nationals did it, view the video below. Did I mention that in the 1954-1955 season the NBA used the 24 second clock for the first time and that it was developed in Syracuse?
Thank you for letting me see a part of Syracuse history. My Dad always talked about the Nats and how great they were, but seeing them play reinforces it. I was too young ( born in 1955) and being from what I consider to be the greatest basketball town ever this is awesome stuff…
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Thanks, Stephen! I got a taste of this kind of excitement back in 2012 when the Crunch went to the Calder Cup Finals. Packed War Memorial every game.
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