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NBA Abolishes Territorial Draft Rule, Takes Effect in ‘66

Apr. 29, 1963 - After years of controversy among its members, the NBA finally abolished its territorial draft rule at the opening session of its annual meeting today. In a long discussion behind closed doors at the Hotel Roosevelt in New York City, league officials agreed the change will take effect with the 1966 draft. Because of the delay, the New York Knicks were protected in their inheritance of the services of Bill Bradley (pictured #42), the Princeton star, in 1965. NBA sources said the decision to eliminate a team’s right to claim players at colleges within a 50-miles radius was clearly aimed at the 5-time champion Boston Celtics and their great star, Bob Cousy. Cousy retired after the Celts took their fifth straight NBA title this year and will coach Boston College next season. There were fears in the league that Cousy might be able to recruit and develop talent at BC that would go to the already powerful Celtics in the territorial draft. “We just followed the law of survival,” one source said. Although the Knicks have fared poorly in recent years, Ned Irish, the president of the New York club, was one of the three officials voting against the change. He was joined by Boston and Cincinnati. “I have been for the territorial arrangement because it keeps players closer to centers where they have gained followings,” said Irish today. “Such an arrangement is always helpful at the gate.” NBA commissioner Maurice Podoloff said the draft vote was the only major measure considered today. Podoloff said he reported on gate receipts, which he said were up 35% during the regular season and 28% for the playoffs, despite the fact that there was one less game in the final series between Boston and Los Angeles than there was in 1962. Podoloff said the transfer of the Chicago team to Baltimore and the formal approval of the new ownership of the Cincinnati Royals would come up later.


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