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Maurice Podoloff (August 18, 1890 - November 24, 1985) was a U.S. lawyer and basketball and ice hockey administrator. He was the first president of the National Basketball Association. He served from the league's founding as the Basketball Association of America in 1946 until 1963.thumb|400px|right|AHL Hall of Fame induction video for Maurice Podoloff, Class of 2011.


Maurice Podoloff was born to a Jewish family in Elizabethgrad, Russian Empire (now in Ukraine) on August 18, 1890. When he was a young boy his family emigrated to the United States, where he graduated from Hillhouse High School in New Haven, Connecticut in 1909. From there Podoloff went on to Yale University where he got his law degree in 1915.

A distinguished lawyer, Maurice Podoloff was a man of impeccable character and was instrumental in the development and success of professional basketball. On June 6, 1946, Podoloff, who was already serving as president of the American Hockey League, was appointed president of the newly formed Basketball Association of America (BAA), becoming the first person to lead two professional leagues simultaneously.

After the BAA signed several of the top names in the National Basketball League into the league, Maurice Podoloff negotiated a merger between the two groups to form the National Basketball Association in 1949. As a lawyer with no previous experience, Podoloff's great organizational and administrative skills were later regarded as the key factor that kept the league alive in its often stormy formative years.

In 17 years as president, Podoloff expanded the NBA to as many as 17 teams, and briefly formed three divisions and scheduled 557 games.

During his tenure Maurice introduced the collegiate draft in 1947, and in 1954 instituted the 24 second shot clock created by Dan Biasone, owner of the Syracuse Nationals, which quickened the pace of games and took the NBA from a slow plodding game to a fast paced sport. In 1954, Podoloff also increased national recognition of the game immensely by securing its first television contract.

As the president of the NBA, he gave lifetime suspensions to Indianapolis Olympians players Ralph Beard and Alex Groza after they admitted to point shaving while in college at the University of Kentucky.

Maurice Podoloff stepped down as NBA president in 1963, having increased fan interest during the NBA's formative years and having improved the overall welfare of the sport of basketball through his foresight, wisdom and leadership. In his honor, the NBA would name its annual league Most Valuable Player trophy the Maurice Podoloff Trophy.