• Leo Ferris (1917-1993)
  • Leo Ferris at the NBL/BAA merger that created the NBA on 3 Aug 1949
  • Leo Ferris
  • Buffalo Bisons Team picture. Leo Ferris owner / GM with William "Pop" Gates
  • Tri-Cities Blackhawks Team Picture. Leo Ferris owner & GM
  • Tri-Cities Blackhawks Team (1947-48) Leo Ferris owner & GM
  • Syracuse Nationals Team Picture.Leo Ferris GM
  • Leo Ferris GM & Buffalo Bisons coach Nat Hickey (1946)
  • Leo Ferris signed William "Pop" Gates & Don Otten to his Bisons team (1946)
  • Leo Ferris
  • Leo Ferris signs 2 time National Champion, University of Kentucky "Fabulous Five" - (5/5/1949).
  • Leo Ferris member of the NBA Board of Governors
  • Shot-clock Inventors
  • Elmira Catholic Star Forward, Leo Ferris (1934)
  • Leo Ferris The man behind the shot-clock.
  • Leo Ferris at the signing of Ward "Piggy Lambert (1946)
  • Leo Ferris included in Shot clock display - Boston Garden Museum
  • Leo ferris devised the 24-second shot clock formula
  • Leo Ferris with player-coach Al Cervi.
  • Leo Ferris with future Hall of Famers Al Cervi & Earl Lloyd
  • Leo Ferris with NBA Commissioner Maurice Podoloff
  • Leo Ferris, Jamie Ferris & Beverly Ferris
  • Leo Ferris the magician (1945)
  • Leo Ferris the magician (1945)
  • Leo Ferris with The Great Ovette -Buffalo, NY
  • Baby Leo Ferris & sister Edna. Elmira, NY (1917)
  • Leo Ferris' contributions to the creation of NBA
  • Leo Ferris - A real go-getter
  • Leo Ferris singing Jim Neal to the Nats.
  • Leo Ferris ran an advertising agency with Ben Kerner called FERRIS & KERNER.
  • Leo Ferris brought "The Ice Follies of 1954" to Syracuse, NY
  • Winner, High School Horseshoe Pitching Tournament, Elmira Catholic. Chemung County Fair(1933)
  • Leo Ferris & sister Edna Ferris, Elmira NY
  • Leo Ferris Elmira Catholic High School. (Circa 1930)
  • Leo brings Sarah Vaughan for Nats haltime show
  • Leo Ferris included in the Naismith 2017 Veterans Committee Nominations broadcast on ESPN
  • Bisons Opening Night message from founder & GM Leo Ferris (Nov 3, 1946)
  • Leo Ferris, Jack Harrison, & Ward Lambert (1947)
  • Leo Ferris signed Schayes, Groza, Beard, & Eddleman
  • Leo Ferris signs "Kentucky 5"
  • Leo Ferris signing Doxie Moore as NBL comissioner
  • 2017 IBCA Hall of Fame Induction for Leo Ferris
  • Leo F. Ferris NBL President
  • Leo Ferris signs Marvin Schatzman to the Nats (5-23-49)
  • "Responsible for obtaining players & overall management of the Nats" Schayes & Lloyd
  • Leo Ferris Member of the NBA's Inaugural Executive Committee
  • From prep star to NBA co-founder. Leo Ferris (#7) top left
  • Leo Ferris Second from left on top with the early leaders of the NBA
  • Leo Ferris drafted Earl Lloyd for the Syracuse Nats in the special draft after Capitols disbanded
  • Leo Ferris: founder, GM, and co-owner of the Tri-Cities Blackhawks.
  • Leo Ferris & Maurice Podoloff the commissioner of the NBA from 1949-63.
  • Leo Ferris
  • Banquet Speaker Leo Ferris
  • Leo Ferris contemplating the move of the Buffalo Bisons franchise to Moline, IL
  • Leo Ferris with Hall of Famer Joe Lapchick, coach of the NY Knicks & St. John's University
  • Leo Ferris recognized by the New York State Legislature
  • Leo Ferris with Walter Brown, Danny Biasone, & Max Winter
  • Leo & Beverly Ferris
  • Leo Ferris with NBA All Star Dike Eddleman who played for the Blackhawks from 1949-1952
  • Leo F. Ferris (1917-1993)
  • Leo Ferris, star forward of the Elmira Catholic High School 1934 Championship team
  • Leo Ferris collage of him with 12 Hall of Famers.
  • Leo Ferris attending a 1951 NBA owners meeting.
Leo Francis Ferris (May 31, 1917, Elmira, NY – Jun 1, 1993, Syracuse, NY) was an American sports executive and businessman best known for helping invent the 24-second shot clock in the National Basketball Association. Leo also played a main role in forcing the merger of the National Basketball League with the Basketball Association of America into the present National Basketball Association on August 3, 1949. He left sports in 1955 and entered the real estate business. With his wife Beverly, Leo was a successful broker in the Central New York area. Upon his death in 1993 of Huntington's disease[1], she was the broker and remained so until a merger in 2006 with Weichert Realtors, from where she retired in 2009. Beverly passed away on June 18, 2010.
Leo Ferris Forgotten NBA Founder & Shot Clock Co-Creator

Leo Ferris Forgotten NBA Founder & Shot Clock Co-Creator

Buffalo Bisons/Tri-Cities Blackhawks and the National Basketball League

With Ben Kerner, Ferris founded the Buffalo Bisons, which started play in the National Basketball League in 1946. One of the first moves by the forward-thinking Ferris was to sign William "Pop" Gates, formerly of the famed New York Renaissance. The B.A.A. had no blacks and this signing helped integrate the N.B.L.. "When Leo Ferris came to me, it was like a godsend," (Pop) Gates said. "It was a real highlight in my career to be accepted by the N.B.L. as one of the only two blacks in the league." Through the league's (N.B.L.) efforts and the initiative of owners like Leo Ferris and Les Harrison, professional basketball became a more representative American institution.[2] During preseason, Leo scheduled games in Utica, NY and his hometown of Elmira, NY in hopes that pro basketball would catch on and establish its own pro team to be used as a farm club for Buffalo.[3][4] Although the farm system had been used in baseball for years, it was almost unheard of in the sport of professional basketball. After suffering heavy financial losses during the first 13 games of the 1946-47 season in Buffalo, the Bisons moved into the Tri-Cities area of Moline & Rock Island, IL and Davenport, IA, and became the Blackhawks from 1946-51. The Hawks are presently operating in Atlanta, after brief stops in Milwaukee and St. Louis.

Rumors began to surface of an NBL-BAA merger in early 1948. Joe Lapchick was quoted as saying, "right now there are seven National League clubs ready to jump to the BAA. But I don't look for any merger to take place before the 1949-50 season."[5] When the Indianapolis Kautskys and Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons decided to jump leagues from the NBL to the BAA on May 9, 1948, the Tri-Cities Blackhawks signed University of Iowa star Murray Weir. According to BAA president Maurice Podoloff, this was in violation of an agreement between the leagues on a bi-lateral player draft. Leo and Blackhawks club president Bryan Grafton maintained no such agreement had been signed. "Even if there was an agreement," fumed Ferris, "we maintain there would have been no violation since the two leagues are apparently no longer working together in unison or harmony. If there was any bolting by NBL clubs to the BAA, there will be open bidding for players. A player war seems inevitable."[6] Within hours of the first two team switching leagues, announcement was made that the Minneapolis Lakers and Rochester Royals had also left the NBL for the BAA. When Ward (Piggy) Lambert resigned as commissioner, Paul Walk resigned as president and Tom Carneghie quit as publicity director, [7] Leo formally took over as acting president of the National Basketball League.[8] "We have severed relations with the Basketball Association of America," Ferris proclaimed, as the National League rulers declared all players of the departed clubs National League property, and said the NBL will redistribute the talent.[9] On June 15, 1948, Ike Duffey, owner of the Anderson Packers, was named as president and Ferris would resume his previous role as league vice-president.[10]

In the 1948 offseason, N.B.L. vice-president Leo went to work right away to solidify his league's future. After the 1947-48 campaign, he worked with Dan Biasone and reorganized the Syracuse Nationals by making the team public through offering 25 stocks at $1,000 apiece. When Rochester jumped leagues, star player Al Cervi showed his loyalty to the N.B.L. and signed with the Syracuse Nats. Leo then signed Billy Gabor for the Syracuse Nationals, outbidding the Rochester Royals for his services. His next move was to negotiate a contract with future Hall-of-Famer Dolph Schayes. Once again, on behalf of the Nats, Ferris signed Schayes and the New York Knicks lost out on his services.

The biggest off-season move preceeding the 1949-50 season was the signing of the two-time NCAA Champion "Fabulous Five" of the University of Kentucky by Ferris on May 5, 1949. By brokering a deal for Kentucky's stars to own their team in three years time, he was able to lure away All-Americas Alex Groza, Ralph Beard and Wallace "Wah Wah" Jones, with teammates Joe Holland and Cliff Barker, from signing player deals with the rival B.A.A. league. The players had expressed interest in playing together after college, and were offered $50,000 in operating expenses to support their team in Indianapolis named the Olympians.[11] Excited about the Kentucky Five signing and despite the urging of Les Harrison, of the former N.B.L. member Rochester Royals to join the B.A.A. for the 1949-50 basketball season, Danny Biasone declared Syracuse would stay put for its fourth season in the National League.[12] On June 30, 1949, The N.B.L. announced it had leased the Butler University Fieldhouse, which had been used by the B.A.A.'s Indianapolis Jets the previous season. This moved pushed the Jets out of the Indianapolis market. This move would reopen merger dialogue between the two leagues on July 1, 1949.[13]

Although it would take almost a month of talks until the merger finally happened, the newspapers were quick to point out Ferris' role in forcing the merger. Columnist Bill Reddy wrote: "Ferris is credited with one of the master strokes of the N.B.L. this summer, in signing the members of the University of Kentucky's Olympic and national basketball champions to form an Indianapolis team in the NBL. When he also arranged for use of the huge Butler field house for the Kentucky stars, Ferris virtually closed the door to B.A.A. operation in that city."[14] Art Deutsch, who had worked with Ferris since his Buffalo Bisons days and would follow him to Syracuse to work for the Nationals, quoted New York Knicks owner Ned Irish as saying: "If you can't beat 'em (the N.B.L), join 'em."[15]

The First National Basketball Association Executive Committee

Upon formation of the NBA on August 3, 1949, new league officials were named. The president of the old Basketball Association of America, Maurice Podoloff, would be named president of the new league. Likewise, the old National Basketball League president, Ike Duffy, was named as chairman of the board of governors. The inaugural executive committee included Leo Ferris of Moline, Walter Brown of Boston, Ned Irish of New York, Eddie Gottlieb of Philadelphia, and Carl Bennett of Fort Wayne.[16] The purpose of the executive committee was to adopt a constitution, work out a schedule, playoff plans, player limits and length of games.[17] Some of the first tasks of the committee was to curb fouling at the end of games, speed up the games and widen the lanes to "curb the big man". The first rule changes were:

  • During the last five minutes of a regulation game and in all overtime periods, there shall be a jump ball after each successful free throw, or in the case of two free throws, after the second, if successful. The jump ball shall take place between the two players involved in the foul at the circle where the free throw was made. This did not help speed up the game, and the jump ball gave way to the opposing team's man tossing the ball inbounds to a teammate.
  • Players of the defensive team shall occupy the positions nearest the basket when a free throw is made, instead of one player from each team. This rule is still in use today.
  • The free throw lanes be widened from the present six feet to 12 feet, so that the lines bounding the free throw lanes shall terminate at the extremites of the free throw line. This rule was meant to be used on a one-month trial basis, but became permanent in 1951 and was known as "The Mikan Rule."[18]

Syracuse Nationals and the National Basketball Association

On November 2, 1949, Leo Ferris was named the Executive Director of the Syracuse Nationals. Also bidding for Leo's services was former N.B.L. president Ike Duffey of the Anderson Packers basketball club. Said Ferris "I chose Syracuse because I believe this city is one of the finest sports towns in the country and certainly one of the soundest in the National Basketball Association."[19]

Always looking for new ways to get a competitive edge and bring home the most quality of players, Leo joined George P. Hodges, Jr. of Utica, NY in the purchase of the legendary Philadelphia Sphas franchise of the American Basketball League. ABL President John O'Brien made the announcement of the sale on July 8, 1950 and indicated the franchise would be relocated to Utica.[20] The Syracuse Nationals would form a working agreement with the Utica club as a farm system for players on September 20, 1950. At the time, "It is believed to be the first workable farm system in professional basketball today."[21] Former Nat Leroy Chollet became player-coach on Octoober 11, 1950 for the new team, and he was joined by another former National, Al Masino.[22]

Again, the need to save the Nats and keep the team in Syracuse arose in 1953. Former Anderson Packers owner Ike Duffey tendered a $150,000 offer to buy the team and move it to Chicago. The offer was turned down in favor of Leo leading a funding drive to raise $200,000 capital for future team expenses. Detroit businessmen made another pitch for the team in 1954, but the team's surprising NBA Finals run brought new interest into the team. Leo was successful in keeping the Nats in Syracuse a total of two times as general manager of the club and once as vice-president of the National Basketball League.[23]

On February 2, 1954, executive vice-president of the Nats, Leo Ferris, announced a television viewer fundraising drive to raise $100,000. To achieve this goal, Ferris proposed selling $5 worth of tickets to 20,000 fans for the following season. In return, the Nats would guarantee 10 home games would be televised locally for the 1954-55 season. The drive would last until March 15, 1954. Ferris could not speculate as to the Nats' future if the fundraising drive should fail. "We need a solution to continue operations," Ferris said.[24]

Shot Clock

Concerns about a fan-unfriendly slow pace led to discussion of adding a shot clock to NBA games, adding possessions and excitement. If any team had a comfortable lead heading into the closing moments of a game, they stalled and held the ball. The opposing team would foul, give up a free throw attempt, and gain possession of the ball. This would then repeat itself until the final whistle. It made for a dull game and fans would start leaving games long before they officially finished. In 1950, the Fort Wayne Pistons defeated the Minneapolis Lakers by a very low score of 19-18, using stalling tactics and having guys stand around with little action. Ferris and Danny Biasone — owner of the Syracuse Nationals, where Ferris was general manager — are often given credit for the selection of 24 seconds, though there is evidence that Ferris may deserve the lion's share. It has been stated a few times that the actual formula was devised by Ferris,[25] and during a pre-season luncheon introducing the 24-second clock, Nats Publicity Director Bob Sexton pointed out that the rule was recommended by General Manager Ferris.[26] The 24-seconds used in the shot clock formula was chosen by figuring that the average number of shots two teams would take during a game. For the 1950-51 through 1952-53 seasons, that number was 120 shots per contest. He divided that number into 48 minutes or 2,880 seconds, the length of a game. The answer was 24 seconds and that number has remained until this day.

In 2005, Syracuse Mayor Matt Driscoll and County Executive Nick Pirro proclaimed 26 March as 24-Second Shot Clock Community Recognition Day listing Leo Ferris as one of the inventors of the shot-clock.


Leo understood there was no show without the fan. He arranged for season-ticket holder appreciation nights "as a demonstration of good will and appreciation to the fans who have made Syracuse the most loyal basketball city in the National Basketball Association."[27] He boosted attendance and expanded the possibilities of the types of entertainment one could enjoy at a basketball game. His innovating basketball promotions were ahead of the time. His promotions took on a life of their own, often referred to as the "Ferris Wheel." Among his endless list of stunts were a helium filled blimp that floatd above downtown Syracuse advertising the next home game, benefit games for different community groups, basketball luncheons, special nights for industry and high school entertainment nights.[28] In the War Memorial, a portable revolving stage was set up at half court 45 minutes before game time, where a piano player would entertain until player introductions. The piano played during the player practices until 10 minutes before game time. Leo had introduced pregame warm-up music to basketball, and had increased pregame attendance from hundreds to thousands.[29] As a promoter he brought acts like Bob Hope, Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis, Sarah Vaughn, Duke Ellington, and many others to Syracuse and some even provided halftime entertainment for the Syracuse Nationals home games.

Transaction Archive

National Basketball League (before NBL/BAA merger)

  • 24 Apr 1946- Named General Manager of the Buffalo (Bisons) Legion Basketball Club.[30]
  • 19 Jul 1946- Signed Mel Thurston, formerly of Canisius College.[31]
  • 22 Jun 1946- Signed Don Otten, formerly of Bowling Green University.[32]
  • 24 Jul 1946- Signed Bobby Daugherty of Virginia Union University.[33]
  • 30 Jul 1946- Signed Nat Hickey as coach of Bisons.[34]
  • 16 Aug 1946- Signed Howard and Len Rader, formerly of Long Island University.[35]
  • 5 Sep 1946- Signed Mark Marlaire, formerly of the University of Illinois.[36]
  • 13 Oct 1946- Signed William "Pop" Gates.[37]
  • 27 Oct 1946- Released Bobby Daugherty, Eddie Thomas and Eddie Cochren. Waived Mark Marlaire to Syracuse.[38]
  • 29 Nov 1946- Signed Pat Rooney, formerly of the Pennsylvania State League.[39]
  • 24 Dec 1946- Announced the transfer of the Buffalo Bisons basketball club to Moline, Illinois. The team was renamed the Tri-Cities Blackhawks.[40]
  • 17 Jul 1947- Named Executive Vice-President of the Tri-Cities Blackhawks.[41]
  • 9 May 1948- Signed Murray Weir, University of Iowa. Acted in capacity of Blackhawks General Manager. Terms $7,500.[42]
  • 7 Jul 1948- Signed Al Cervi, former Rochester Royals guard, after Rochester made the decision to move to the B.A.A.. Acted in capacity of N.B.L. Vice-President.[43]
  • 24 Jul 1948- Signed Billy Gabor, Syracuse's territorial 1948 draft choice. Outbid Rochester Royals of B.A.A.. Acted in capacity of N.B.L. Vice-President.[44]
  • 27 Jul 1948- Signed Chuck "The Rifleman" Connors to the Syracuse Nationals. Acted in capacity of N.B.L. Vice-President.[45]
  • 30 Sep 1948- Signed Dolph Schayes, Syracuse's 1948 draft choice. Terms $7,000 plus $500 bonus. Outbid New York Knicks of B.A.A.. Acted in capacity of N.B.L. Vice-President.[46]
  • 14 Feb 1949- Released Bobby McDermott, player-coach. Named Roger Potter as coach. Acted in capacity of Blackhawks General Manager.[47]
  • 14 Apr 1949- Signed Jack Kerris to the Tri-Cities Blackhawks. Outbid Chicago Stags of B.A.A.. Acted in capacity of Blackhawks General Manager.[48]
  • 4 May 1949- Signed Alex Groza, Ralph Beard, Wallace Jones, Joe Holland and Cliff Barker, and brokered a deal for the players to own the Indianapolis Olympians within three years. Terms $50,000 in operating expenses. Outbid various B.A.A. teams for all players. This move also contributed to the B.A.A.'s Indianapolis Jets suspending operations. Acted in capacity of N.B.L. Vice-President.[49]
  • 25 Jun 1949- Received signed contract of Dike Eddleman, formerly of the University of Illinois. Acted in capacity of Blackhawks General Manager.[50]

National Basketball Association (after NBL/BAA merger, 3 Aug 1949)

  • 25 Oct 1949- Resigned as General Manager and Executive Director of the Tri-Cities Blackhawks.[51]
  • 2 Nov 1949- Named Executive Director of the Syracuse Nationals.[52]
  • 22 Jul 1950- Signed 1950 NBA 1st draft choice Don Lofgran of the University of San Francisco.[53]
  • 11 Dec 1950- Sold Belus Smawley to the Baltimore Bullets for cash.[54]
  • 13 Dec 1950- Traded center Ed Peterson of the Syracuse Nationals for center Noble Jorgensen of the Tri-City Blackhawks.[55]
  • 12 Feb 1951- Sold Don Lofgran to Indianapolis Olympians.[56]
  • 2 Oct 1951- Signed Billy Gabor for 1951-52 season.[57]
  • 15 May 1952- Signed 1952 NBA 1st round draft choice Bob Lochmueller of University of Louisville.[58]
  • 29 Sep 1952- Signed Noble Jorgensen for the 1952-53 season.[59]
  • 7 Oct 1952- Signed Gerry Calabrese, formerly of St. John's University.[60]
  • 4 May 1953- Signed 1953 NBA 1st round draft choice Jim Neal of Wofford College. Terms $5,000 plus $500 bonus.[61]
  • 15 Sep 1953- Signed 1953 NBA 2nd round draft choice Dick Knostman of Kansas State University.[62]
  • 15 May 1954- Signed Dick Farley, Nats' 1954 2nd round draft choice.[63]
  • 12 Jun 1954- Signed Johnny "Red" Kerr, Nats' 1954 1st round draft choice.[64] Terms $5,000 plus $500 bonus.[65]
  • 25 Aug 1954- Signed 1952 NBA draft choice Ken McBride of University of Maryland - Eastern Shore.[66]
  • 26 Nov 1954- Obtained Connie Simmons in dispersal draft of Baltimore Bullets.[67]
  • 28 Dec 1954- Resigned as General Manager of the Syracuse Nationals.[68]


"If the guy (Leo) stays in the game - and I say this seriously - he might have been commissioner. When you think about it, his hand is on the three core steps that made basketball big-time: 1.) Making the game diverse, the act of conscience and historic change that made basketball what it is 2.) Creating the NBA, the merger that made the game major league 3.) The shot clock, the innovation that saved basketball. There's a pretty stunning trio of accomplishments." -Sean Kirst, via Facebook, 1 Jan 2017

To my mind, Leo Ferris has done the outstanding promotional job in professional sports. But there is no one man--no one factor--entirely responsible for the Blackhawks' success. The players have been a factor. Leo Ferris has been a factor. So have the radio and the press. -Ike Duffy, owner of the Anderson Packers and National Basketball League president[69]

Syracuse had a losing proposition until I helped the club reorganize and got 25 local men interested. Last season, the first under this civic sponsorship, Syracuse made up $30,000 of its losses. -Leo Ferris[70]

The merger (NBL & BAA) must be successful or pro basketball will collapse. With men like Leo Ferris and Ike Duffy figuring prominently in the new setup I can't see how it can fail. -Al Cervi[71]

That Ferris could teach Branch Rickey of the Brooklyn Dodgers a few things about selling. -Tony Lavelli, leaving Boston Celtics general manager Walter Brown's office after signing his player contract. Leo Ferris had stopped by the day before and suggested letting Lavelli play his accordion during half time. Beforehand, Lavelli had planned on leaving the court game for a music career.[72]

This year (1949-50), however, in its first 14 home games the team (Syracuse Nationals) packed a total of 73,468 fans into its stadium's 6,400 seats and standing areas. Most of the so-called experts credit the success to a shrewd player-coach (Cervi) on the floor and an equally shrewd young man in the business office (Ferris)...To handle the business end of the enterprise, Biasone this year imported Leo F. Ferris, also 32, and named him the club's executive director. Ferris, a member of the NBA's six man executive committee, is credited with stepping up the club's attendance with high powered promotional methods.[73]

Danny finally came up with a brilliant array of players this season (1949-50), and in acquiring the players Biasone never counted the expense. If Al Cervi wanted them, Danny got them, with notable assistance from the Executive Director, Leo Ferris. But in all the money expended, the greater portion was Biasone's, and you'll never hear a grumble from Danny about it.[74]

In addition, Ferris was the guiding genius as the NBL grabbed the cream of the college crop away from the BAA's draft, and when the time came to talk terms, the BAA was more than willing to listen to Ferris' merger proposals. "Get an attractive 'package,' and put it within reach of the greatest possible number of customers. Satisfy the fans, and you have a steady and increasing following. That's what pro basketball is doing." - Leo Ferris[75]

Syracuse has become the professional basketball center of the country. I have the figures on attendance throughout the National Basketball Association, and I can tell you now that only New York outdraws Syracuse. When you consider the enormous difference in population, you realize that Syracuse doesn't suffer by comparison. Instead, New York suffers by contrast. -Maurice Podoloff, President of the National Basketball Association (NBA), while speaking at the Syracuse Radio-Newspaper luncheon on 9 Jan 1951.[76]

It must be admitted that the basketball fortunes of the Syracuse Nationals began to climb steadily upwards as soon as Danny Biasone decided that Ferris could help him in the operation of the local club.[77]

I feel Leo Ferris cannot be replaced. He works day and night in the best interests of the Nats. He knows his business. Everything he does is honest and above board. - Dan Biasone.[78]

Shared a Sports Arena chair Tuesday night with Leo Ferris, the suave, young Buffalo advertising executive, who doubles in professional basketball. A gifted salesman and tireless worker, Leo took over a dilapidated Syracuse club three years ago and by intelligent administrative direction and high-voltage promotion converted the Nationals into the most successful and lucrative in professional basketball. While most promoters are moaning and grumbling over the lack of customer patronage today, Ferris can point proudly to an electrifying attendance increase of 25 percent at Nats' home games this season. This despite the fact that the basketballers, for the first time, are competing for fan patronage with the American Hockey League Warriors.[79]

What's more impressive is by the end of the following 1952 season Syracuse finished a handsome first in the box-office scramble, their gross receipts topping those of the New York Knicks, Boston Celtics, and the champion Minneapolis Lakers during the regular season. This represents a rousing personal triumph for the Nats head man the tireless Leo Ferris, whose blue ribbon selling and promotion job ranks as exhibit A in pro basketball's box office show case. [80]

There are those, however, who must admire the balding genius (Al Cervi) who has teamed with front office manipulator Leo Ferris to keep the Nats always at or near the top of the basketball pile. [81]

There isn't a promoter in the world who can touch his ability.- Ike Duffey, who just made a $150,000 purchase offer on the Syracuse Nationals. He wanted Leo to come along as a salaried associate.[82]

Leo Ferris, the Buffalonian who is executive vice-president of the Nats, is recognized as the David Harum of the NBA. He subscribed to newspapers in almost every community in the country, and had a running file on almost every college player. As a result, he came up with several sleepers in the draft.[83]

The recent column on Al Cervi here didn't mention Leo Ferris, whose astute general managership was a major factor in the rise of the Syracuse Nats to pro cage prominence. Ferris, who resigned recently, was matchless in uncovering talents to fit in with Cervi's coaching program. [84]

The formula used to create the 24-second clock--the 2,880 seconds of a 48-minute game divided by the average number of shots a game over the previous three seasons (120)--was actually devised by Biasone's general manager, Leo Ferris. [85]

At a time when NBA owners in big-market cities struggled to survive by offering only basketball, Ferris generated crowds through innovation and energy.[86]

While Coach Howard Hobson of Oregon and Yale is originally credited with the idea, the Shot Clock was truly the brainchild of Syracuse National’s executive Leo Ferris, then-owner Danny Biasone, and Emil Barboni. [87]

Before the clock, there was no game at all. It would get into the second half, and the team that was ahead would just kill the ball, and then you'd have to foul. Then they would foul you, and the game would deteriorate. The game stunk. It was a march from one foul line to the other. Something had to be done. -Dolph Schayes [88]

Biasone, a member of the league's rules committee, continued to badger anyone and everyone, warning that a game lacking in time limits of possession would never last, much less grow...Eventually, enough league owners listened to him, and adopted a formula that had been divised by Biasone's general manasger, Leo Ferris: the 2,880 seconds of a 48-minute game divided by the average number of shots a game over the previous three seasons (120). [89]

The Nationals' "recipe for success" began by recruiting Leo F. Ferris, then a talented team executive to reorganize the Syracuse team. [90]

Other Links

Hall of Fames

On November 10, 2016, announcement was made that Leo had been inducted into the Chemung County Sports Hall of Fame.

On December 13, 2016, the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association included Leo into their 2017 Hall of Fame class.

On June 20, 2017, the Greater Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame inducted Leo in their 2017 class.

He has been nominated for induction by the Veterans Committee of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.


  1. Associated Press. "Leo Ferris, a Founder of N.B.A., Dies at 76." New York Times. 5 Jun 1993:28. Proquest Historical Newspapers. Web. 8 Jun 2016.
  2. Gould, Todd. Pioneers of the Hardwood. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1998. ISBN: 9780253028112.
  3. "Bison Basketball Club To Have Farm Teams." Buffalo Courier-Express. 21 Sep 1946:14. Fulton History. Web. 10 Sep 2016.
  4. "Buffalo Pro Cagers Start Practice In Armory Monday." Elmira Star-Gazette. 19 Oct 1946:6. Fulton History. Web. 10 Sep 2016.
  5. Cushing, Elliot. "Sports Eye View." Rochester Democrat & Chronicle. 5 Feb 1948:22. Fulton History. Web. 12 Aug 2016.
  6. Associated Press. "National League Facing Crucial Meeting Today." Sheboygan Press. 10 May 1948:14. Fulton History. Web. 12 Jun 2016.
  7. Associated Press. "Four Quintets Jump To New Loop." New York Times. 11 May 1948:34. Proquest Historical Newspapers. Web. 8 Jun 2016.
  8. Associated Press. "National Loop Threatens Suit In BAA Fight." The Washington Post. 12 May 1948:19. Proquest Historical Newspapers. Web. 8 Jun 2016.
  9. International News Service. "Four Teams Abandon National To Join Rival Basketball Loop." Buffalo Courier-Express. 11 May 1948:19. Fulton History. Web. 4 Aug 2016.
  10. Associated Press. "Named Cage President." Baltimore Sun. 16 Jun 1948:20. Proquest Historical Newspapers. Web. 8 Jun 2016.
  11. United Press. "Kentucky Cage Stars Form Club." Binghamton Press. 5 May 1949:24. Fulton History. Web. 29 Aug 2016.
  12. "Nats' Owner To Keep Team In National." The Post Standard Syracuse, NY. 6 May 1949:20. Fulton History. Web. 7 Sep 2016.
  13. Associated Press. "Merger Talk Revived As N.B.L. Leases Butler Field House.", Chicago Tribune. 1 July 1949:36. Chicago Tribune Archives. Web. 20 Sep 2016.
  14. Reddy, Bill. "Syracuse to Move Into Basketball Association of America." The Post Standard, Syracuse, NY. 3 Aug 1949:13. Newspaper Archive. Web. 1 Aug 2016.
  15. Pinckney, Paul. "In And Out Of The Question." Rochester Democrat Chronicle. 13 February 1959:23. Fulton History. Web. 28 Sep 2016.
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