Lee Knorek

Leonard J. Knorek (July 15, 1921 – July 22, 2003) was an American professional basketball player. A 6'7" center, he spent the majority of his career with the New York Knicks of the NBA. He was of Polish descent.

Born in Rossford, Ohio, Knorek graduated from Central Catholic High School in 1939. He played basketball at DeSales University and the University of Detroit, then enlisted in the United States Navy to serve in the Pacific theater of World War II. Ater returning home at the end of the war, a friend, Paul Taylor, signed him to the New York Knicks.

Knorek participated in the first NBA game, a November 1, 1946 contest between the Knicks and the Toronto Huskies. The Knicks won 68-66. Knorek remained with the Knicks until 1950, when he was sold to the Baltimore Bullets. He only played one game with the Bullets before quitting, claiming that he was hobbled by an old knee injury (though he later explained that he had grown too used to the "beautiful facilities" in New York.) The Bullets sued him for breach of contract in a case that lasted almost two years. Knorek eventually promised the Bullets that he would not play professional basketball with any team. He ended his NBA career with 873 career points.

Knorek and his wife settled in Ohio, where he operated a liquor distribution company called Schenley Distillers. Knorek briefly returned to basketball in 1959 to join a team of retired players at the NBA All-Star Game. His team competed against a lineup of college all-stars, who won the game.

By Dean Hanley

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