Bloom, Mike : Jews In Sports @ Virtual Museum

Bloom, Mike

Meyer Bloom

One of the greatest Jewish players in history, Bloom was an All-America forward at Temple University, and led the Owls to the NIT (National Invitational Tournament) championship in 1938; it was the first-ever postseason tournament (the NCAA tournament began the following year). He then played professionally in the ABL (American Basketball League), becoming one of the league's best players and a two-time MVP. In 1947-48, Bloom played for the Baltimore Bullets in the second season of the NBA (then called the Basketball Association of America). After his incredible basketball career, Bloom settled in Maryland and became a salesman.

Birth and Death Dates:
b. Jan. 14, 1915 - d. June 5, 1993

Career Highlights:
A winner at every level of competition during his basketball career, Bloom was a three-time all-state performer at Trenton High School in New Jersey, leading his team to a 41-game winning streak and three consecutive state titles (1932-34). He then played college ball at Temple University and became one of the best players in the country. In 1936 as a sophomore, he made an immediate impact in his varsity debut. Early in the season, he scored a last-second basket to propel the Owls to a 44-43 win over Georgetown, and finished with a game-high 23 points (New York Times, December 19, 1935).

Described as one of the best centers in recent history by New York writers, Bloom led Temple to a 34-31 upset over the defending national champions, NYU (New York University). Bloom, who scored nine points in the game, was praised as, "a standout in all departments of play." (New York Times, February 9, 1936). That season, he helped lead Temple to an overall record of 18-6, and they were considered among the nation's best. The following year, with Temple's 17-6 record Bloom helped them remain among the nation's elite teams .

In 1938, Bloom had an outstanding season and was named Madison Square Garden first team All-America, NEA second team, and Converse third team All-America. That year, he led the Temple team to a 23-2 record and into the first-ever National Invitational Tournament. After receiving a first-round buy in the six-team tournament, Temple overwhelmed Oklahoma A&M in the semifinals, 58-44 as Bloom registered 11 points in the game. In the NIT final, the Owls then rolled over Colorado, led by football great (and future Supreme Court Justice) Whizzer White. Although Bloom scored only six points in the contest, he had a terrific defensive game. Temple dominated the game and won, 60-36 to capture the tournament and the National Championship.

After graduating from Temple, Bloom played professionally in the American Basketball League, one of the top professional leagues at the time. A proficient scorer, he began his career in 1938 with the Philadelphia Sphas (the nickname stood for the South Philadelphia Hebrew Association), one of the greatest professional teams in the first half of the twentieth century. That year, he played in all 33 regular season games as the Sphas finished in third place (24-9). In the playoffs, they were eliminated in the first round by New York. Bloom, who averaged only 4.1 points per game for the Sphas, moved to the Washington Brewers in 1939 and saw his average rise to 5.8, but the Sphas captured the championship.

In 1940, Bloom joined his third professional team in three seasons as he played for the Baltimore Clippers. He finished third on the team in scoring with 159 points in 29 games (5.5), but the Clippers finished the season with a losing record and missed the playoffs. Bloom then switched teams again, heading in 1941 to the Trenton Tigers, where he remained for the next four seasons and developed into one of the leagues best players. In 1941-42, Bloom was among the league leaders in points (136 for a 6.8 average, seventh in the league) but Trenton missed the playoffs.

The following year (1943), Bloom emerged as a star, finishing fourth in the league in scoring average (8.8) and third in points (105). He led Trenton to a first place regular season finish (11-2). In the playoffs, they lost to the Philadelphia Sphas in a seven game playoff. In 1943-44, Bloom had his best season and was named league MVP as he led the league in points (273 -- no one else had over 200) and average (10.5). Bloom was so good that he scored 25% of Trenton's points that season. Still, the Tigers finished with an overall record of 15-11 and missed the playoffs.

In 1944-45, he was again league MVP, and repeated as scoring leader with 321 points; he was also second in average (10.7). Trenton finished second in the league with a 21-9 record and lost again to the Sphas (22-8) in the championship playoff. The next season, Bloom moved to the Baltimore Bullets, a new franchise in the ABL. He was again in the top ten in scoring (364 points) and helped the Bullets (21-13) defeat Philadelphia (21-13) in the playoff to win the championship.

In 1946-47, Bloom remained among the league leaders, finishing second in scoring (508 points) and average (14.9). The Bullets won the Southern Division (the ABL expanded to ten teams that year) with a league-best 31-3 record. They won their first-round playoff series, but forfeited the championship: they chose instead to participate in the World Basketball Tournament rather than play a best-of-three series against Trenton. That was Bloom's final season in the ABL; he played in 154 career league games. Mike finished his career as the league's 8th all-time leading scorer with 1,639 points (10.6 average).

In 1947, Bloom was a member of the Bullets when the team was 'called up' from the ABL to the Basketball Association of America (forerunner of the NBA). The BAA began in 1946, but four teams had folded after the first season and the league needed additional competition. Bloom, who had a deadly set-shot and a nose for defense, became a crowd favorite at a time when the NBA needed stars. Midway through the season, he was sent to the Boston Celtics (20-28), who lost to the Max Zaslofsky-led Chicago Stags in the playoffs. That year, the 33-year old Bloom averaged 10.6 points in 48 games. In 1948-49, Bloom played for the Minneapolis Lakers (who jumped from the NBL to the NBA that year) and then joined the Stags (38-22) late in the season. Chicago lost to the Lakers in the Western Conference Semifinals, 2-0. Bloom retired after the season, having played in four playoff games for the Stags that year.

New York

Career Dates:
Bloom played forward and center at the Temple University, 1936-1938. He played forward in the ABL for the Philadelphia Sphas, 1938-39, for Washington in 1939-40, for the Baltimore Clippers in 1940-41, for the Trenton Tigers from 1941-1945, and for the Baltimore Bullets from 1945-47. He played in the NBA in 1947-48 for the Baltimore Bullets and the Boston Celtics, and in 1948-49 for the Minneapolis Lakers and the Chicago Stags.

Physical description:
6'6", 190 pounds

Career Statistics:
In the NBA:
Games: 93
Points: 634
Points Per Game: 6.8

Field Goals Made: 209
Field Goals Attempted: 821
Field Goal Percentage: .255

Free Throws Made: 209
Free Throws Attempted: 311
Free Throw Percentage: .672

Rebounds: not available
Assists: 70
Assists Per Game: 0.8
Personal Fouls: 169

NBA playoffs:
Games: 4
Points: 38 (9.5 average)
Points Per Game: 9.5

Field Goals Made: 11
Field Goals Attempted: 48
Field Goal Percentage: .229

Free Throws Made: 16
Free Throws Attempted: 21
Free Throw Percentage: .762

Rebounds: not available
Assists: 2
Assists Per Game: 0.5
Personal Fouls: 10

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encyclopedia of JEWS in sports, by Bernard Postal, Jesse Silver, and Roy Silver (New York: Bloch Publishing Co., 1965)
The Official NBA Encyclopedia: Third Edition, edited by Jan Hubbard (New York: Doubleday, 2000)
Who's Who in Basketball, by Robert L. Mendell
New York Times, March 17, 1938