February 2, 2009: Ralph Kaplowitz passed away
Ralph Kaplowitz passed away on this date in 2009 due to kidney failure. A native of the Bronx, Kaplowitz served in the U.S. Army and fought in World War II before embarking on a basketball career. After a season in the Philadelphia Sphas in the American Basketball League (ABL), Kaplowitz signed with the Knicks for $6,500 in 1946.
Kaplowitz started in the first ever NBA game as a member of the Knicks. He spent less than 1/2 a season with the Knicks before spending the next 2 seasons with the Philadelphia Warriors. He later returned to the ABL playing for both the Hartford Hurricanes and Bridgeport Aer-A-Sols. As one of the few Jewish-American basketball players in the league, Kaplowitz dealt with anti-semitic slurs hurled at him during games.
Kaplowitz was later inducted into the NYC Basketball Hall of Fame and Jewish Sports Hall of Fame. At the time of his death, he was the oldest living person to play for the Knicks at 89 years old.
Knicks Film School Historian, amongst other things