Born and raised in South Philadelphia, Eddie Gottlieb was known as the “Mogul” of basketball. He was one of the pioneers of the sport, helping to develop it to national prominence. A founder of the National Basketball Association, he was the first promoter to use the doubleheader as part of the program in basketball. He coached the Philadelphia Warriors to its first NBA championship. In 1962 the Warriors left Philadelphia for San Francisco and Gottlieb moved with them.
Until his death in 1979, he served as a member of the NBA competition and rules committee and for many years single handily formulated the schedule for the league’s 22 teams without the aid of a computer. He was the guiding force behind many of the NBA rules used today such as the 24 second shot clock, penalty shot for free throws and the ban on the zone defense. He also signed two of the biggest names in professional basketball, Joe Fulks and Wilt Chamberlain.
He was one of the three cofounders of the Philadelphia Sphas, which he helped to organize following his graduation from Southern High School in 1918. He became the team’s owner and coach, earning the Sphas a spot in the Philadelphia League and the Eastern League. When that league folded he promoted a series of exhibition games between the Sphas and leading teams from New York’s Metropolitan League and the new American Basketball League. Within approximately six weeks, the minor league Sphas won 9 of 11 matches against the most celebrated teams in professional basketball at the time.
In 1929, when the Eastern League found new life, Gottlieb and the Sphas joined that league, winning three championships in four seasons. This success led to an invitation from the newly reorganized American Basketball League and the Sphas became Gottieb’s ABL franchise entry in 1933. In 13 seasons the team won seven titles and were twice runners up.
In 1946, the Basketball Association of America, the forerunner of the NBA, was formed and Gottlieb established the Philadelphia Warriors as his BAA franchise.