Listen to Owen Bennett-Jones discuss the future of opinion polls with Mark Pack

Syl Sobel and Jay Rosenstein

Jul 16, 2021

Boxed Out of the NBA

Remembering the Eastern Professional Basketball League

Rowman & Littlefield Publishers 2021

The Eastern Professional Basketball League (1946-78) was fast and physical, often played in tiny, smoke-filled gyms across the northeast and featuring the best players who just couldn’t make the NBA—many because of unofficial quotas on Black players, some because of scandals, and others because they weren’t quite good enough in the years when the NBA had less than 100 players.

In Boxed out of the NBA: Remembering the Eastern Professional Basketball League (Rowman and Littlefield, 2021), Syl Sobel and Jay Rosenstein tell the fascinating story of a league that was a pro basketball institution for over 30 years, showcasing top players from around the country. During the early years of professional basketball, the Eastern League was the next-best professional league in the world after the NBA. It was home to big-name players such as Sherman White, Jack Molinas, and Bill Spivey, who were implicated in college gambling scandals in the 1950s and were barred from the NBA, and top Black players such as Hal “King” Lear, Julius McCoy, and Wally Choice, who could not make the NBA into the early 1960s due to unwritten team quotas on African-American players.

Featuring interviews with some 40 former Eastern League coaches, referees, fans, and players—including Syracuse University coach Jim Boeheim, former Temple University coach John Chaney, former Detroit Pistons player and coach Ray Scott, former NBA coach and ESPN analyst Hubie Brown, and former NBA player and coach Bob Weiss—this book provides an intimate, first-hand account of small-town professional basketball at its best.

Paul Knepper used to cover the Knicks for Bleacher Report. His first book, The Knicks of the Nineties: Ewing, Oakley, Starks and the Brawlers That Almost Won It All was published in September 2020. You can reach Paul at paulknepper@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @paulieknep.

Listen to more episodes on:

Your Host

Paul Knepper

Paul Knepper used to cover the Knicks for Bleacher Report. His first book, The Knicks of the Nineties: Ewing, Oakley, Starks and the Brawlers That Almost Won It All was published in September 2020. You can reach Paul at paulknepper@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @paulieknep.

Learn More

Also Hosted By Paul Knepper