HISTORICAL BASKETBALL WRITER

Douglas Stark

Industry Praise for The SPHAS: 

“Steeped in well-researched detail, The SPHAS helps resurrect the memory of a team that represented a nation and dominated a game.” 
—Slam Magazine

“[A]n extremely well-researched book, one that captures in detail a bygone era, and belongs on the bookshelf of anyone with an interest in basketball history.” 
— Providence Journal 

“The team’s interesting history, now well chronicled by Douglas Stark…stretched from its founding in 1918 until its demise in 1959…. Sports fans will enjoy Stark’s volume, particularly its biographies of the SPHAs players.”
—The Jewish Book World

“The SPHAS documents the story in more detail than anyone has done before…. Stark’s book includes rare and vivid photographs of players as he describes how these Jews fought stereotypes of Jewish weakness and inferiority while spreading the popularity of what was then a relatively new game.” 
—The Broad Street Review

In my time, I got involved in lots of things, lots of them. But the SPHAS, that’s what I loved.”
—Eddie Gottlieb, SPHAS Team Owner


In The SPHAS, the first book to chronicle the history of this team and its numerous achievements, Douglas Stark uses rare and noteworthy images of players and memorabilia as well as interviews and anecdotes to recall how players like Inky Lautman, Cy Kaselman, and Shikey Gotthoffer fought racial stereotypes of weakness and inferiority while spreading the game’s popularity. Team owner Eddie Gottlieb and Temple University coach Harry Litwack, among others profiled here, began their remarkable careers with the SPHAS.

Stark explores the significance of basketball to the Jewish community during the game’s early years, when Jewish players dominated the sport and a distinct American Jewish identity was on the rise. At a time when basketball teams were split along ethnic lines, the SPHAS represented the Philadelphia Jewish community. The SPHAS is an inspiring and heartfelt tale of the team on and off the court.

“It was the pinnacle of athletic achievement just to be able to wear that jersey with those four Hebrew letters on it. The money meant nothing. The goal, the fulfillment, was to play for the greatest basketball team in the world, the South Philadelphia Hebrew Association.”
— Yock Welsh

“If you could play basketball, your dream was to play for the SPHAS. Your life would be fulfilled.”
— Ed Lerner 

 Praise for The SPHAS:

“Douglas Stark chronicles some amazing facts about the game of basketball. It is almost inconceivable today, but basketball in its infancy was a ‘Jewish’ game. The SPHAS is a great read for every basketball fan who cares about the origins and history of the game.”
—Governor Ed Rendell

“For three decades, the Philadelphia SPHAS were one of the most important professional basketball teams in America, yet today almost no one knows their name. Hopefully, Douglas Stark’s book, The SPHAS, will change that. With encyclopedic detail, Stark traces the SPHAS’ unique role as an all-Jewish team that survived anti-Semitism, the Great Depression, and a world war to leave a lasting legacy in American sport.”
—Ben Green, author of Spinning the Globe: The Rise, Fall, and Return to Greatness of the Harlem Globetrotters

“Douglas Stark has made a valuable contribution in bringing back to life a vibrant era in early basketball history. His portraits of the players, their fans, and such memorable figures as team founder Eddie Gottlieb and announcer Dave Zinkoff will entertain and instruct lovers of not only basketball but also American urban history.”

—Lee Lowenfish, author of Branch Rickey: Baseball’s Ferocious Gentleman

Founded in 1918, the South Philadelphia Hebrew Association’s basketball team, known as the SPHAS, was a top squad in the American Basketball League — capturing seven championships in thirteen season — until it disbanded in 1959.