Zaslofsky, Max : Jews In Sports @ Virtual Museum

Zaslofsky, Max

A member of the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, and the New York City Basketball Hall of Fame, Zaslofsky was one the grestest, and most popular, Jewish basketball players in history. Selected to the NBA's silver anniversary team in 1971 as one of the league's top 25 players in its first 25 years (the only other Jewish member of the team was Hall of Famer Dolph Schayes), he was one of the game's finest two-handed shooters, an NBA All-Star in the first years of the league, the league's leading scorer in 1947-48, and one of the league's first stars.

Zaslofsky scored 7,900 points in his career, which was third all-time when he retired in 1956, but has since been surpassed by the great scorers of the NBA. In the book From Set Shot to Slam Dunk by Charles Salzberg, fellow NBA alum Sonny Hertzberg said, "Max [Zaslofsky] started with Chicago and I played against him 20 or 30 times. He was a great ballplayer. He was offensive-minded. He had a good touch and he was a good competitor. He was deceiving in his size, about 6'3." There wasn’t a phase of the game that he wasn’t proficient in. He was court-wise. For a fellow who had only one year of college experience, he was just outstanding."

Birth and Death Dates:
b. Dec 7, 1925 - d. Oct 15, 1985

Career Highlights:
The son of Russian immigrant parents, Zaslofsky grew up in Brooklyn and spent five to six hours a day as a child on the playgrounds trying to perfect his two-handed set shot. Brought up in the predominantly Jewish section of Brownsville, Zaslofsky attended Thomas Jefferson High School and was an All-PSAL player. He graduated in 1943 and then spent two years in the U.S. Navy during World War II. After being discharged, he returned to New York and attended St. John's University in Brooklyn.

In 1945-46, Zaslofsky joined All-America center Harry Boykoff (fresh off a stint in the U.S. Army during the war) and junior guard/forward Lennie Doctor on the St. John's varsity. The 20-year-old Zaslofsky started at guard and finished the season as the team's fourth-leading scorer with 140 points (his 7.8 points per game was third on the team). Named All-Metropolitan honorable mention, Max helped St. John's finish the season with a 17-5 record and a place in the NIT (National Invitational Tournament). In their first round game, Max scored seven points, but the Redmen lost to West Virginia, 70-58.

After his one season with the Redmen, Zaslofsky moved to the Basketball Association of America (predecessor of the NBA) as almost a complete unknown. With a young wife, Max felt he had to play professionally because he could not support his wife if he remained in school. In 1946-47, the first year of the new BAA, Zaslofsky finished fourth in the league in scoring with 877 points (14.4 points per game) and was named first team All-League. Along with feeder Mickey Rottner, Max led Chicago (39-22) to a surprising appearance in the NBA Finals; they lost to the Philadelphia Warriors 4-1.

Over the next three seasons, Zaslofsky scored over 1,000 points each season, including a league-high 1,007 in 1947-48 (he was the only player in the BAA to score more than 1,000 points that year). Named first team All-NBA in all four of his seasons with Chicago, Max could not lead the team back to the Finals during his time with the Stags. Following the 1949-50 season, the Chicago franchise folded and Zaslofsky moved to the New York Knicks. During the dispersal draft, Boston Celtics coach Red Auerbach desperately wanted Max as a scoring threat for his team. The Knicks, however, were awarded Zaslofsky and Boston had to 'settle' for Bob Cousy.

While with his hometown Knicks, Max continued to be a double-figure scorer, but did reach the heights of his Chicago days. One reason was that while the Stags revolved the offense around Zaslofsky, making sure he ran off picks to receive the ball and release his tremendous shot, the Knicks did not cater to his particular style. Still, he helped lead the Knicks (36-30) to the NBA Finals in 1950-51, where they lost to Rochester, 4-3. The following year, he was an All-Star as he led New York in scoring with 14.1 points per game (13th in the league). The Knicks (37-29) returned to the NBA Finals where they lost to the Minneapolis Lakers, 4-3.

Zaslofsky left New York during the 1952-53 season (traded to Fort Worth 29 games into the season) and the following season played for three teams (he still averaged 12.5 points per game that year). In 1954-55, and 1955-56, he played for Fort Wayne, who lost in the NBA Finals to the Lakers both years. At the time of his retirement in 1956, Zaslofsky was the NBA's third highest all-time scorer with 7,900 points.

Brooklyn, New York

Career Dates:
Zaslofsky played at St. John's University, and played guard in the BAA and NBA for Chicago Stags, 1946-1950, the New York Knicks, 1950-53, the Baltimore Bullets and Milwaukee Hawks in 1954, and the Fort Wayne Pistons, 1953, 1954-56.

Physical description:
6'2 1/2", 180 pounds

Career Statistics:
In the NBA:
Games: 540
Points: 7,900
Points Per Game: 14.6

Field Goals Made: 2,854
Field Goals Attempted: 8,313
Field Goal Percentage: .343

Free Throws Made: 2,282
Free Throws Attempted: 2,969
Free Throw Percentage: .768

Rebounds: 864 (incomplete record)
Assists: 1,093
Assists Per Game: 2.0

Personal Fouls: 1,291
Disqualifications: 11 (incomplete record)

NBA playoffs:
Games: 63
Points: 899
Points Per Game: 14.3

Field Goals Made: 306
Field Goals Attempted: 850
Field Goal Percentage: .360

Free Throws Made: not available
Free Throws Attempted: not available

Rebounds: 121 (incomplete record)
Assists: 101
Assists Per Game: 1.6

Personal Fouls: 5
Disqualifications: 0

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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)