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Before Smash Mouth's Hit: The Oshkosh All-Stars (NBL)

Oshkosh All Stars

Credit: NBA Hoops Online

Somebody once told me that there was a professional basketball team in Wisconsin before the Milwaukee Bucks? Well, whoever told you that is correct! Based in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, the Oshkosh All-Stars were a part of the NBL from 1937-49. The Oshkosh All-Stars were the ONLY NBL team that lasted all twelve seasons.

The team was founded by Lon Darling, a seed distributor with the Oshkosh Seed Company. Not having much to do in the off-season, Darling decided to create the basketball team, the Oshkosh All-Stars, in 1929.

I don't know how Darling came up with the name 'All-Stars' as being an All-Star wasn't an award until 1951, twenty-two years after the naming of the Oshkosh All-Stars.

For this article, we'll specifically be looking at the Oshkosh All-Stars journey within the NBL. If you are interested in the All-Stars' history pre-NBL, you can scroll down to the bottom of this article to the 'Sources' section, where you'll find links to the All-Stars Wiki.

Fun Facts (Pre-NBL):

  • Oshkosh All-Stars' Players would make $15 to $25 per game. Accounting for inflation, that means that players today (2020-2021) would be making $242 per game. That's a pretty good amount for playing a sport you like, but currently, just based on his contract with the Los Angeles Lakers, Lebron James is making $162 per second!

  • In 1936, the Oshkosh All-Stars played against the All-Black team, the New York Renaissance Big Five. This would be one of the first interracial sporting events in America!


First Season: 1937-38

In the Oshkosh All-Stars' first season in the NBL, they went 12-2 (85.7 W/L%). This would be their best regular-season W/L% throughout their twelve-season history. This record put them as the first seed in the Western Conference. Although an 85.7 W/L% is good, the All-Stars were expected to win 100% of their games (14-0)!

The All-Stars had the best PPG this season (45.6). 45.6 points doesn't sound like a lot, but this was approximately twelve points more than the average PPG (33.5). Although their PPG was good, they were in the middle of the pack when it came to OPPG (32.7), ranking sixth among the thirteen NBL teams.

A reason for the All-Stars' massive success this season, and for basically their entire time in the NBL, was due to Leroy Edwards.

The GOAT: Leroy Edwards

This will sound like I'm exaggerating, but Leroy Edwards was honestly the Michael Jordan of the NBL. Edwards was a 6'5" Center that went by many names: Cowboy, Lefty, East Side Terror, etc. Apparently, Edwards was an all-around player. He was ambidextrous, could shoot from the outside, had a hasty hook-shot, and was fantastic on defense.

Up until the last few seasons, Edwards was, in general, the All-Stars' best player. For this specific season (1937-38), Edwards would average: