The First Basket

The First Basket

Theatrical release poster
Directed by David Vyorst
Produced by David Vyorst
Starring Ossie Schectman
Red Auerbach
Peter Riegert
Narrated by Peter Riegert
Music by Roberto Juan Rodriguez
Edited by Carol Slatkin
Distributed by Laemmle/Zeller Films
Release dates
  • 2008 (2008)
Running time
86 minutes
Country United States
Language English

The First Basket is a 2008 documentary film on professional basketball's influence on Jewish culture.

It is narrated by Peter Riegert. The film includes interviews and narratives provided by, and footage of, well known Jewish basketball personalities including Ossie Schectman, Red Auerbach, Sidney Hertzberg, and Edward Gottlieb as well as other Jewish basketball players.


The movie is broken into four parts. The first part focuses on the 1946–47 New York Knickerbockers, and players such as Ossie Schectman, Sonny Hertzberg, Leo "Ace" Gotlieb, Ralph Kaplowitz, and Hank Rosenstein. The second part centers on how "Basketball Meant Being American," and the third part on professional basketball's development, including the start of the BAA and the NBA, the South Philadelphia Hebrew All Stars (SPHAs), basketball teams at City College of New York, Long Island University, and St. John's, and players including Nat Holman, Sammy Kaplan, Barney Sedran, Nat Krinsky, Red Saracheck, Red Holzman, and Red Auerbach. The last part centers on the beginning of the BAA and the NBA, Nat Holman, CCNY, and the 1951 CCNY point shaving scandal and its impact on the NBA, and Maccabi Tel Aviv.[1]

Film festivals

It premiered at the FilmFest DC International Film Festival, and was shown at over 25 other film festivals.[2]

Critical reception

The First Basket received generally excellent reviews from critics. As of October 2010, review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported that 67% of 9 professional critics had given the film a positive review.[3]

The Village Voice reviewer Ella Taylor, said of The First Basket:

The First Basket is more than a triumphalist screw-you to those who think Jews don't play sports. . . David Vyorst's clear-eyed, jaunty documentary briskly walks us through the history of American Jews in basketball.[4]

Film Journal International reviewer Lewis Beale, said of The First Basket:

An important historical document. . . engrossing and fun.[5]


The First Basket: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Soundtrack album by Roberto Juan Rodriguez
Released February 29, 2009 (2009-02-29)
Length 44:43
Label Tzadik Records
Producer John Zorn
Professional ratings
Review scores
Allmusic [6]

Roberto Juan Rodriguez was the Musical Director and Composer on The First Basket: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack. He is a musician who synthesizes Cuban music and Jewish music.[7]

See also


  1. "News & Events". Retrieved October 19, 2010.
  2. on Rotten Tomatoes
  3. The Village Voice
  4. Film Journal International
  5. The First Basket at AllMusic
  6. "The Team". The First Basket. Retrieved October 19, 2010.
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