On This Date in Sports April 22, 1954: Clock Time

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Looking to boost the popularity of the game, and to blunt the advantage of George Mikan and the Minneapolis Lakers who have won five of the last six championships, owners approve the adoption of a shot clock for the 1954/55 season. The idea of a shot clock is the brainchild of Danny Biasone, Owner of the Syracuse Nationals. Teams would not have 24 seconds to shoot, giving each team at least 60 shots a game.

After eight seasons the NBA, which began as the BAA in 1946 was at best a fringe sport. Started to help hockey owners fill more dates in their arena, and industrial teams in the Midwest the sport was trying to overcome a college point shaving scandal. One team was superior in those days and it was the Minneapolis Lakers who after jumping from the NBL, won the championship five of six seasons, with the year of 1951 being the exception. The Lakers had a big advantage in George Mikan who dominated under the basket and in the middle as he was the tallest player in the league. Teams to overcome Mikan’s size advantage often tried to play keep away, this led to a game on November 22, 1950, won by the Fort Wayne Pistons against the Lakers 19-18.

With the game slow and prodding, Owners looked to pick up the pace, leading Syracuse Nationals owner Danny Biasone to propose the idea of a shot clock. Biasone, an Italian Immigrant was born in 1909. When he was ten, he came to the United States with his family and settled in the Syracuse area. After playing high school football, Biasone started investing in restaurants and bowling alleys. In 1946, this helped him get a basketball team in the NBL, he called the Syracuse Nationals. The Nationals would be among the teams to join the NBA when the NBL and BAA merged in 1949.

Danny Biasone was a self-professed sports nut, loving all forms of competition. He felt the sport of basketball had potential but need a boost, and his idea was to quicken the pace, as the old game of passing and waiting for the perfect shot came off as being rather boring, as it was not uncommon to see no shots for five minutes as teams passed back and forth. The Biasone shot clock would be set at 24 seconds, calculating that each team could get at least 60 shots on the math that if you used ever second on ever possession each team would get the ball 60 times.

The shot clock would make its debut when the Rochester Royals faced the Boston Celtics in the season opener on October 30th. The shot clock was an immediate success, as the pace quickened, scoring skyrocketed and attendance rose 40% within a few seasons. The shot clock changed basketball forever and helped elevate into a major sport. In the first year of the shot clock, it would by Biasone’s Syracuse Nationals benefiting most as they won their only NBA Championship, beating the Fort Wayne Pistons in seven games.

The shot clock would not get adopted into the NCAA until 1985, but it ushered in the modern day of the NBA. Danny Bisaone would eventually sell the Nationals as the growth of the league after the creation of the shot clock, eventually made small towns like Syracuse obsolete. As they became the Philadelphia 76ers in 1963. Biasone would get recognized for his contribution to the NBA in 2000 when he was enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame. Sadly, the honor would be posthumous as he passed away eight years earlier. The city of Syracuse also paid tribute to Bisone by erecting a shot clock monument.