Militzok, Nat : Jews In Sports @ Virtual Museum

Militzok, Nat

Nathan Militzok

Militzok played for the New York Knicks in the first game in NBA history against the Toronto Huskies on November 1, 1946. New York won the game 68-66, and Militzok is credited with the first assist in the league's history (it was called the Basketball Association of America until 1949). In 1999, Militzok, along with the other Jewish players on the Knicks, Sonny Hertzberg, Ralph Kaplowitz, Leo Gottlieb, Hank Rosenstein, and Ossie Schectman, were inducted into the Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in Commack, New York.

Birth and Death Dates:
b. May 3, 1923

Career Highlights:
A star in college, Militzok began his career at CCNY and played for the freshman team in 1941. That season his squad had a 16-1 record. Nat then transferred to Hofstra University. After playing two seasons at Hofstra, Militzok joined the Army during World War II. He was stationed at Cornell University, whose basketball team he joined in 1944. Teamed with sophomore center Irwin Alterson, Militzok was a key man for the Big Red during the season, scoring 16 points in a 48-47 loss to national powerhouse LIU (Long Island University) late in the year.

After the war ended, Militzok joined a team called the New York Knicks in a new league, the Basketball Association of America. The BAA was the first serious attempt at a national professional league since the 1920s and had franchises in the biggest cities in the country, including Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, and Washington. Although no one could predict its success, the BAA soon became the sportís dominant league, merging with the National Basketball League in 1949 to become the NBA.

Militzok spent only one season in the new league. After beginning the 1946-47 season with the New York Knicks, he was traded to the Toronto Huskies (22-38) in the middle of the year. That season, Militzok played in a total of 56 games for the Knicks and Huskies and scored 244 points. His professional career was not over, however. Nat joined the Scranton Miners of the American Basketball League in 1948-49 (the ABL had been the top pro league in the East before 1946 and continued to attract top talent until it folded in 1953).

Militzok played four seasons in the ABL, mostly with Scranton. After appearing in only 13 games in 1948-49 when the Miners (26-15) lost in the championship to the Wilkes-Barre Barons, Militzok was a regular the following year. In 1949-50, he played 35 games and averaged 6.3 points per game as a strong Scranton team (with African-American stars Dolly King and Pop Gates) finished 27-11 and captured the league championship. The following year, the Miners (26-8) racked up a back-to-back championship season, and Militzok scored a career-high 309 points (9.1 average). In his final season in the league (1951-52), Militzok started the year with Scranton before being sent to the Saratoga Harlem Yankees. During the year the Yankees moved to Schenectady and then back to Saratoga. They finished 12-16 and out of the playoffs.

New York

Career Dates:
Militzok played at Hofstra and at Cornell University. He played professional ball in the NBA with the New York Knicks and the Toronto Huskies in 1946-47. He then played in the ABL for Scranton from 1948-1951, and with Saratoga/Schenectady in 1951-52.

Physical description:
6'3", 195 pounds

Career Statistics:
In the NBA:
Games: 56
Points: 244
Points Per Game: 4.4

Field Goals Made: 90
Field Goals Attempted: 343
Field Goal Percentage: .262

Free Throws Made: 64
Free Throws Attempted: 112
Free Throw Percentage: .571

Rebounds: not available
Assists: 42
Assists Per Game: 0.8
Personal Fouls: 120

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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)
New York Times, March 5, 1944