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The NBA in Central New York

The NBA in Central New York: The Syracuse Nationals

1955 photo depicting the Syracuse Nats celebrating their NBA Finals win. Identifiable figures are from L to R: Earl Lloyd (11, smiling), Al Cervi (suited, facing away from camera), George King (3, raised on his teammates' shoulders), Johnny Kerr (10), and Paul Seymour (5).

Our exhibit, The NBA in Central New York, showcases items from the Danny Biasone Collection, housed in the Tatyana Popović Archives and Special Collections at Le Moyne College. Biasone was the Founder and Vice President of the Syracuse Nationals, or Nats, an NBA team based in Syracuse from 1946-1963 that now exists as the Philadelphia '76ers. Biasone also invented the 24-second shot clock and rule, which drastically changed the game of basketball.

The collection contains papers, photos, score sheets, and Nats memorabilia. We combed through the archives to find items that help illustrate the complex early history of the NBA through the lens of Syracuse Basketball. Basketball and the NBA of the 1950's was rough and tumble, not yet the established and popular sport it is today. Our exhibit tells a story of change in the NBA: change on the court, of rules and play style, and change off the court, of race relations and integration in basketball. This is not just a sports story, it is also a story of social change. In the spirit of broader appeal we tried to keep the basketball lingo simple, so both sports fans and those new to the sport can enjoy our exhibit. 

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