Kaufman played at New York University in the late 1940s before playing professionally in the American Basketball League.
Birth and Death Dates:
b. March 8, 1927
A forward and center, Kaufman joined New York University's varsity basketball team in 1948 as a sophomore. Joel had been a star at DeWitt Clinton High School, and had led them to the PSAL title. He joined All-America seniors Dolph Schayes and Don Forman to help the Violets begin their season with 19 consecutive victories. Although they lost two of their final three games (to Notre Dame and City College), NYU was invited to the NIT (National Invitational Tournament).
With a regular season record of 20-3, NYU was one of the tournament favorites, although Forman was injured (he missed the game against City College and Kaufman started in his place at guard). In the first round game against Texas (the only game of the tournament in which Forman played), Kaufman started at forward and scored five points as NYU won a nail-biter, 45-43. In the semifinals against DePaul, Kaufman did not start but scored eight points in a 72-59 victory. In the NIT final against St. Louis, Kaufman came off the bench and netted 14 points, but the Violets lost, 65-52.
In 1949, guard Abe Beckerjoined the team and Kaufman, emerged as one of NYU's best players after the Violets lost stars Schayes and Forman to graduation. Although he slumped during the middle of the season, Joel was named first team All-Metropolitan
(New York City). In NYU's final regular season game against rival CCNY (City College of New York), Joel scored 12 points and NYU upset the favored Beavers, 65-52, This victory earned the NYU squad a berth in the NIT, despite a medioce overall season record of 12-7. Kaufman and his teammates were fortunate that the NIT decided to expand to 12-teams (from eight) for the 1949 tournament, or they might not have ever gotten a coveted slot in the competition. In the first round, Kaufman scored a team-high 20 points, but NYU lost the match to Bradley, 89-67.
In 1950, when Kaufman was team captain, the Violets struggled with a record of 8-11. Joel was drafted in the ninth round of the NBA Draft by the Philadelphia Warriors, but did not play in the league. Instead, after graduating from NYU in 1950, Kaufman joined former NBA player Irv Rothenberg on the Paterson Crescents in the American Basketball League. The ABL had been the top pro league in the East in the 1930s and early 1940s, but with the development of the Basketball Association of American (forerunner of the NBA) in 1946, the ABL became a minor league. It still attracted top players, but the NBA (the BAA became the NBA in 1949) was considered the dominant pro league by the time Kaufman joined Paterson.
In his rookie professional season (1950-51), Kaufman was terrific and finished fourth in the league in points scored (439) and tenth in scoring average (12.5) although the Crescents finished third in the league with a record of 20-14 and missed the playoffs. The following year, Kaufman played for the Bridgeport Roesslers (9-22) and led the team with 520 points (fourth in the league) and an 16.8 average; the squad finished 9-22 and sixth in the league.
Kaufman played one more season in the ABL, which could not compete with the NBA and folded following the 1952-53 year. He played one game for Elmira (12-11) and 22 games for the Scranton Miners (17-11) and scored a combined 301 points. Kaufman finished his ABL career with 1291 points in 91 regular season games.
Kaufman played guard, forward, and center at NYU from 1947-1950. He then played professionally in the ABL for Paterson in 1950-51, with Bridgeport in 1951-52, and for Elmira and then Scranton in 1952-53.
Use links below to navigate through the basketball section of Jews In Sports.
encyclopedia of JEWS in sports, by Bernard Postal, Jesse Silver, and Roy Silver (New York: Bloch Publishing Co., 1965)
The Modern Encyclopedia of Basketball, edited by Zander Hollander (New York: Doubleday, 1979)
Inside Sports Magazine: College Basketball, by Mike Douchant with Jim Nantz (Detroit: Visible Ink Press, 1997)
Ronald Encyclopedia of Basketball, edited by William G. Mokray (Ronald Press: 1962)
1949 Converse Basketball Yearbook, by the Converse Rubber Company (Malden, Massachusetts, 1949)