All because I was curious about the Anderson Packers

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Sometimes my travels on the internet wind up taking an unusual path leaving me tracing my steps from my destination back to where it all began. Take today, I started on a baseball blog and it led me to looking into the history of the NBA. I’ll explain …

It all started in my Google Reader where I keep up on a variety of feeds, many of them are the blogs of the ESPN baseball columnists. Rob Neyer is one of those columnists. He had an entry on Friday about Russ Gload (I think you need ESPN Insider to read, but its not too important). For those of you not in the loop, Russ Gload is the Kansas City Royals’ 1st baseman. It’s alright, I didn’t know who he was either, I haven’t kept up with the Royals. In the post he examined if Russ Gload was the worst everyday 1st basemen ever. He found three players doing worse than he has done so far this season. So there is still time for Russ to catch up.

One of those players was Howie Schultz who turned in the worst season ever in 1947 when he played for the Dodgers and Phillies. What interested me was that after the 1948 season Schultz stopped playing baseball and played basketball. In 1949 he played during the 1st season of the NBA for the Anderson Packers. This interested me very much. Who were the Anderson Packers? Where is Anderson? What other teams existed during the first season of the NBA that I’m not aware of?

Who were the Anderson Packers?
Basketball Reference to the rescue. The Anderson Packers did play in that first season of the NBA (49-50). In fact, they finished 2nd in the Western Division. They won their first two playoff series and wound up losing in the semifinals to the Minneapolis Lakers, who wound up winning the title. Despite making the playoffs, that was the only year the Anderson Packers were in the league.

Continuing to Wikipedia for more details, there aren’t a ton. The Packers played 3 seasons in the NBL. Then the NBL and BAA merged forming the NBA. After the inaugural NBA season the Packers moved to the NPBL. A league that almost lasted an entire season. One interesting note about the Packers: Their home court was the Anderson High School Wigwam.

Where is Anderson?
Indiana. Northeast of Indianapolis.

What about the other teams from that 1st NBA season?
There were 17 teams that season in 3 divisions: Eastern, Central, and Western.

Baltimore Bullets – Lasted 1947-1954. In NBA: 1949-1954.
Boston Celtics – Still in existence
New York Knickerbockers – Still in existence
Philadelphia Warriors – Moved to San Francisco in 1962. Now the Golden State Warriors.
Syracuse Nationals – Moved to Philadelphia in 1963. Now the Philadelphia 76ers.
Washington Capitals – Lasted 1946-1951. Only 2 seasons in NBA.

Chicago Stags – Lasted 1946-1950. Only played in NBA for 1 season.
Fort Wayne Pistons – Moved to Detroit in 1957, where they still play.
Minneapolis Lakers – Moved to Los Angeles in 1960, where they still play.
Rochester Royals – Moved to Cincinnati in 1957. Moved to Kansas City/Omaha in 1972 and became the Kings. Just in Kansas City starting in 1975. Moved to Sacramento in 1985, where they still exist.
St. Louis Bombers – Lasted 1946-1950. Only played in NBA for 1 season.

Anderson Packers – Talked about them above. NBL: 1946-1949. NBA: 1949-1950, NPBL: 1950-1951.
Denver Nuggets – NBL: 1948-1949, NBA: 1949-1950. Not connected to the current Denver Nuggets.
Indianapolis Olympians – NBA: 1949-1953
Sheboygan Redskins – NBL: 1938-1949, NBA: 1949-1950, NPBL: 1950-1951
Tri-Cities Blackhawks – Moved to Milwaukee in 1951, shortened name to Hawks. Moved to St. Louis in 1955. Moved to Atlanta in 1968, where they still play. The Tri-Cities are Moline, Illinois; Rock Island, Illinois; and Davenport, Iowa. Apparently that area is now known as the Quad Cities, or maybe even the Quint Cities.
Waterloo Hawks – NBL: 1948-1949, NBA: 1949-1950, NPBL: 1950-1951

Out of those 17 teams only 8 still exist in some form. The 2nd season of the NBA only had 11 teams and 2 divisions. 3 teams moved to the NPBL and 3 teams folded.

I learned all this in just a little searching around this afternoon. As with most adventures of this type, it started at a baseball blog. I’d like to learn more about the history of the NBA, I love old teams, leagues and how teams move around. More likely I’ll see something else shiny on the internet and get distracted.

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