Forgotten Superstars: Max Zaslofsky


Max Zaslofsky

Credit: NASL Jerseys


Max Zaslofsky was born to Russian immigrants on December 7th, 1925. He grew up in Brooklyn in a Jewish household alongside his parents and two older brothers, Irving and Abe. Neither of them played basketball.


Growing up, Zaslofsky would spend hours at Brooklyn playground, trying to perfect his two-handed shot. Zaslofksy would go to Thomas Jefferson High School, where he would be selected as an All-Public Schools Athletic League (PSAL) selection for basketball. The PSAL was a New York City organization that promoted student-athletes. In addition to basketball, he also played basketball while in high school!


Zaslofsky would later attend St. Johns University (SJU), where he played Shooting Guard. During his freshman, and only season with SJU, he would average:


7.8 Points

3.3 Field Goals

1.2 Free Throws and 2.1 Free Throw Attempts (57.9 FT%)


SJU would end that season with a 17-6 record. Within the Metropolitan New York Conference, SJU and New York University tied at first place with the same Win/Loss record (5-1). As a result, SJU and NYU were crowned as Regular Season Champions.


And after his freshman season, Zaslofsky would enter the newly established NBA.


Fun Fact: Max Zaslofsky's nickname was 'Slats.' Unfortunatley, I have no idea why that was his nickname.


Fun Fact 2: When Max Zaslofsky first started his professional basketball career, he was only paid $5 to $10 per game.



Chicago Stags (1946-50)


1946-47:

As a freshman, Max Zaslofsky immediately became the best player on the Chicago Stags. He averaged:


14.4 Points

32.9 FG%, 73.7 FT%

61 Games



Zaslofsky led the team in all categories: points, field goal percentage, free throw percentage, and even games played!


The Stags would finish with a 39-22 record (63.9%), earning them the first seed in the Western Conference.


In the first round against the Washington Capitals, Zaslofsky would play even better than during the regular season. He averaged 16.8 points per game and shot 79.3% from the free-throw line. The Stags would win 4-2 against the Capitals.


However, in the Finals, against the Philadelphia Warriors, it was a whole other story. Zaslofsky was overshadowed by an opposing teammate, Joe Fulks. During that series, Fulks averaged 26.2 POINTS!


26.2 points is already a lot by today's standards, but during the 1940s, averaging 20+ points is as impressive as averaging 30+ points in today's NBA landscape. Fulks alone scored 33% of the teams' points during that series!


On the other hand, Zaslofsky was disappointing. He averaged 10 points per game and shot 54.5% from the free-throw line. The Stags would lose to the Warriors, 4-1.


Although Max Zaslofsky wouldn't end the season with a Championship, and sadly, never did within his ten-year NBA career, at just 21, he was selected to be in the All-NBA First Team. Zaslofsky would hold the record for youngest player to be in the All-NBA First Team for nearly 60 YEARS! The one and only Lebron James would eventually beat his record.


1947-48:

In the following season (1947-1948), Max Zaslofsky would play even BETTER! He averaged:


21 Points, 0.6 Assists

32.9 FG%, 73.7 FT%

48 Games


The only other player to score more points per game than Zaslofsky in the 1947-48 NBA season was Joe Fulks (22.1). Although Fulks score more points per game, Zaslofsky led the league in points scored at 1007 because Fulks played five fewer regular-season games than Zaslofsky.


His 1007 points in one season set another record. Zaslofsky was the youngest player to lead the league in points scored for 63 YEARS until Kevin Durant broke it!


Although Zaslofsky averaged a career-high in points, the Stags would end up with a worse record (28-20) than last year.


The playoffs were also disappointing. This season, the Stags only got to the Semifinals. However, in the series against the Boston Celtics, Zaslofsky played like an MVP. He averaged 23.7 points and shot 84.4% from the free-throw line.


In Game 3 of the series, Max Zaslofsky scored a series-high 31 POINTS! In Game 3, the Stags had 81 points, so he scored 38.3% of the points! Zaslofsky would lead the Stags to a 2-1 victory over the Celtics, advancing to the Semifinals.


Unfortunatley, Zaslofsky, similar to last year, did not show up when the Stags needed him the most. In the Semifinals against the Baltimore Bullets, he only averaged 13 points and shot 66.7% from the free-throw line.


Although he lost in the playoffs again, at least Max Zaslofsky would be back on the All-NBA First Team.


1948-50:

Max Zaslofsky's last two seasons with the Stags were pretty uneventful and disappointing. In the 1948-49 NBA season, the Stags went 38-22. However, in the first round of the playoffs, the Stags were swept 0-2 by the George Mikan-led Minneapolis Lakers (who would win the Championship).


In the 1949-50 NBA season, the Stags had a 40-28 record. Similar to last season, the Stags would get swept 0-2 by the Minneapolis Lakers. What's interesting about the 1949-50 NBA season is that the Stags were horrible on offense but amazing on defense. However, from 1946-1949, the Stags have always been an amazing offensive team and horrible defensive team.


1946-47:

PPG: 77.0 (1st of 11)

OPPG: 73.3 (10th of 11)


1947-48:

PPG: 75.8 (1st of 8)

OPPG: 73.2 (7th of 8)


1948-49:

PPG: 84.0 (3rd of 12)

OPPG: 80.0 (9th of 12)


1949-50:

PPG: 78.7 (12th of 17)

OPPG: 77.1 (6th of 17)


As for Zaslofsky, he played at the same rate.


1948-49:

20.6 Points, 2.6 Assists

35 FG%, 84 FT%

58 Games


1949-50:

16.4 Points, 2.3 Assists

35.1 FG%, 84.3 FT%

68 Games

(Had the Highest Free-Throw Percentage in the League)


Once again, Max Zaslofsky would be selected to be a part of the All-NBA First Team in both seasons. After the 1950 NBA season, the Stags would break up. As a result, he would join the New York Knicks.


New York Knicks (1950-1953)

Max Zaslofsky Detroit Pistons
Credit: The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Max Zaslofsky's time with the New York Knicks was really good but depressing. First off, I'll show you the Knicks' regular-season record from the 1950 to 1953 NBA season.


1950-51:

36 Wins, 30 Losses

PPG: 85.8 (2nd of 11)

OPPG: 85.4 (6th of 11)

Third Seed


1951-52:

37 Wins, 29 Losses

PPG: 85.0 (6th of 10)

OPPG: 84.2 (7th of 10)

Third Seed


1952-53:

47 Wins, 23 Losses

PPG: 85.5 (4th of 10)

OPPG: 80.3 (4th of 10)

First Seed


Now... the Knicks never had a bad regular season. They were always above the third seed. However, what makes Max Zaslofsky's time with the Knicks so depressing is their playoff record. In EACH year, they went all the way to the Finals and LOST each one.


In the 1950-51 season, the Knicks lost 3-4 to the Rochester Royals. In the 1951-52 season, they lost 3-4 to the Minneapolis Lakers, and in the 1952-53 season, the Knicks lost 1-4 to the Minneapolis Lakers again.


As for Zaslofsky, he never was as good as when he was on the Chicago Stags. In his three seasons with the Knicks, he averaged:


13.1 Points, 3.1 Rebounds, 2.2 Assists

35.1 FG%, 75.1 FT%