A writer digs into his grandfather’s past and discovers stories about life as a professional basketball player in the 1940s for the Chicago Stags, part of the BAA (Basketball Association of America), which later merged with another league to become the NBA:
Detroit’s coach gave Schadler the score: ‘I have a wife and kids, and I’m keeping this money. I’ll see to it that you get yours at the end of the season.’ Payment never came. It wasn’t just this game—two weeks had passed without Schadler, let alone any of the Vagabond Kings’ eight players, being paid a dime. The team was co-owned by two men, one of whom also owned a car dealership. The car salesman wanted out, and as a parting gift to the remaining owner (given out of guilt, and accepted out of an essential need) the Kings received two limousines. Since they couldn’t afford a bus, this became how they travelled around the country; hundreds of miles at a time, from game to game, in two limos—a confusing symbol for a failing league. Their lodging situation, though, screamed that the end was near. If a game was held in the vicinity of Detroit, team owner King Boring (yes, King Boring) began to shuttle the players to his home to sleep in his game room on air mattresses.
“Grandpa Was a Baller.” — Matt Kallman, The Classical
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