Rochester Royals

First NBA Game: November 6, 1948 Last Game: March 13, 1957 Moved to Cincinnati in 1957 *-Played in NBL 1945/46/1947/48
Logo 1945-1957
Alternate Logo 1949-1957

1945/46: With a roster that included future coaching legend Red Holzman, legendary pro quarterback Otto Graham, major league catcher Del Rice, and Chuck Connors, who would go on to greater fame as The Rifleman the Rochester Royals owned and Coached by Les Harrison posted a solid 24-10 record in their inaugural season in the National Basketball League. In the playoffs, the second-place Royals would stun the Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons in four games to reach the NBL Finals. In the finals, the Royals would sweep the Sheboygan Red Skins in three straight games to claim the NBL Championship.

1946/47: With Dolly King, the first black player in the NBL, the Royals win the Eastern Division with a solid record of 31-13. In the playoffs, the Royals would knock off the Syracuse Nationals in four games. They would go on to reach the NBL Finals again by beating the Fort Wayne Zollner Piston in a three-game series. However, in the finals, the Royals would be knocked off by the Chicago American Gears in four games.

1947/48: The Royals would win their second straight division title by posting a record of 44-16. In the playoffs, the Royals would beat the Fort Wayne Zollner Piston in four games, before beating the Anderson Packers in a three-game series to reach the NBL Finals for the third year in a row. However, once again, the Royals would be tripped up as they fall to the Minneapolis Lakers in four games. Following the season Royals, Owner/Coach Les Harrison would lead the way for a merger between the two major professional basketball leagues, the NBL and BAA. The Royals, along with the Lakers, Pistons, and Indianapolis Kautskys, would join the BAA for the 1948/49, with more moves panned a year later.

1948/49: Joining the third year Basketball Association of America, the Royals would capture the Western Division beating out three other former NBL teams with a record of 45-15. In the playoffs, the Royals would beat the St Louis Hawks in two straight before suffering a let down in the Western Finals as they lost two consecutive games to the Minneapolis Lakers. Following the season, Les Harrison’s dream of a full merger would be completed as the NBL folds with the remaining teams joining the BAA, forming a new league known as the National Basketball Association.

1949/50: Lacking a powerful offensive threat with top scorer Bob Davies who averaged only 14 ppg, the Royals used a stifling defense that averages only 74.6 ppg, to post a 51-17 record, losing the division title in a tiebreaker game against the Minneapolis Lakers. In the playoffs, the Royals would be swept by the Fort Wayne Piston in two straight games.

1950/51: Led by a roster that included Bob Davies, Bobby Wanzer, and Arnie Risen, the Royals post a solid 41-27 record finishing in second place in the Western Division. The regular season included a pair of notable marathon contests. On January 6th, the Royals were edged by the Indianapolis Olympians in a game that lasted through si overtime periods and which still stands as the longest game in NBA history. Seventeen days later, the Royals and the New York Knickerbockers battled through four overtimes before Rochester finally nailed down the win. In the playoffs, the Royals would beat the Fort Wayne Pistons in two straight games before beating, eventually beating the Minneapolis Lakers in four games to reach the NBA Finals. In the Finals, the Royals would be matched up with the New York Knickerbockers in an All-Empire-State battle. The Royals would jump out to a 3-0 series lead grabbing the first games at home before winning Game 3 at home. However, the Knicks would rally to force a seventh game at Rochester’s Edgerton Park Sports Arena. Tied at 75 with 40 seconds left, Bob Davies nailed two clutch free throws to give the Royals a lead. The rules at that time mandated a jump ball after successful free throws during the final three minutes of a game; Rochester controlled the tip, and a Jack Coleman’s lay-up sealed the victory 79-75. Davies, Risen, and Wanzer combined for 57 of the Royals 79 points, and the trio pulled down 27 rebounds to land the Rochester Royals the NBA Championship.

1951/52: Coming off their NBA Championship, the Royals beat out the Minneapolis Lakers by one game to capture the Western Division with a 41-25 record. In the playoffs, the Royals would sweep the Fort Wayne Pistons in two straight games. However, in the semifinals, the Royals would be beaten by the Lakers in four games.

1952/53: With their trio of all-stars Bob Davies, Bobby Wanzer, and Arnie Risen, the Royals would post a 44-26 record to finish in second place. However, in the playoffs, the Royals would be stunned by the Fort Wayne Pistons in a three-game series.

1953/54: The Royals remained one of the top teams in the NBA, posting a record of 44-28, which was good enough for second place. The NBA would experiment with a round-robin first round as the Royals survived by splitting their four games against the Minneapolis Lakers and Fort Wayne Pistons. However, in the Western Finals, the Royals would be beaten by the Lakers in a three-game series.

1954/55: The Royals would feel the negative effect of the new 24-second NBA shot clock, more than any other team, as they were no longer able to play their slow defensive posting a losing record for the first time in franchise history at 29-43. Despite their poor record, the Royals would make the playoffs by finishing in third place, where the Minneapolis Lakers would beat them in a three-game series. Following the season, Owner Les Harrison would step down as Coach, handing the reigns over to Bobby Wanzer, while the Royals other two stars Bob Davies would retire and Arnie Risen was traded to the Boston Celtics.

1955/56: Under player-coach Bobby Wanzer, the Royals had a different look with three rookies in the starting forwards Maurice Stokes, Jack Twyman, and guard Ed Fleming. Stokes would-be star of the group earning the Rookie of the Year award while averring 16 points and rebounds per game. However, it was not enough to lift the Royals into the playoffs as they finished in last place with a record of 31-41.

1956/57: With Maurice Stokes setting a new single-season record with 1,256 rebounds, the Royals battle all season in a four-way scramble for the three playoff spots in the Western Division. However, the Royals would end up with shortened of the stick as they finished in last place just three games out of a three-way tie for the Division title with a record of 31-41. Following the season, the Royals would leave the small town of Rochester, New York, behind for the much larger city of Cincinnati, Ohio.

©MMXI Tank Productions. Stats researched by Frank Fleming, all information, and team names are property of the National Basketball Association. This site is not affiliated with the Rochester Royals of the NBA. This site is maintained for research purposes only. All logos used on this page were from Chris Creamer’s Sports Logos Page.
Page created on February 19, 2003. Last updated on June 12, 2011 at 11:11 pm ET.

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