The SPHAS were a basketball team founded in 1917 by 19-year old Eddie Gottlieb and two of his high school teammates (they all attended South Philly High). SPHAs is an acronym, derived from the South Philadelphia Hebrew Association, who bought them their first jerseys.
The team began play as a barnstorming squad. They traveled across the East and Midwest, taking on other well known teams such as the Original Celtics, Cleveland Rosenblums, and New York Rens. They eventually started playing some home games at the YMHA at Broad and Pine (now known as the Gershwin Y), and as the team got more popular, at the Broadwood Hotel on North Broad. (Games at the Broadwood were usually followed by dances, as SPHAs member Gil Fitch also doubled as a band leader). The SPHAS dominated, and were widely recognized as one of the best pro teams in the country. From 1933-1945, they played in the American Basketball League, and won 7 championships in 13 years.
All along, the coach of the SPHAS was Eddie Gottlieb, a basketball guru whose legend among true hoopheads in Philadelphia is only eclipsed by Wilt Chamberlain's. In the 1946, at a time when Jews began moving out of the inner city and loosened their stranglehold on basketball dominance, Gottlieb was given an opportunity to coach a new team, the Philadelphia Warriors, in a league called the Basketball Association of America (which would later become the NBA). He took the best players off the SPHAs, started a new team, and sold what remained of the SPHAs to Red Klotz. Gottlieb led the Warriors to the first ever BAA (now NBA) title in 1947. He led them to another in 1955. He persuaded Wilt to stay in Philly and play for the team. In 1962, he sold the squad to a group in San Fran. They then moved to San Francisco and are now known as the Golden State Warriors.
As for the SPHAS? After playing several games with the Harlem Globetrotters, Abe Saperstein approached Klotz about touring with his team permanently. Klotz agreed, changed the name of the team to the Washington Generals, and the rest, as they say, is history.
This vintage style 100% cotton t-shirt pays homage to Eddie Gottlieb and the team that put Philadelphia basketball on the map.
Available online only. Please allow 7-10 days for delivery. Overnight shipping not available.
Part of the Shibe Originals collection - designs by Philly artists and exclusively available at Shibe Vintage Sports.
This t-shirt pays tribute to an overlooked chapter in Philadelphia sports history. It is the perfect Chanukah gift for my future son-in-law.
Great quality and perfect fit