Fans who attended the Columbia-Fordham game at the Lions’ gymnasium in February of 1945 saw something they’d never seen before—and wouldn’t see again at the college level for another 35 years. At the urging of basketball innovator and Hall of Fame coach Howard Hobson, the two New York City universities played a game using a semi-circular line around the perimeter of the court. A basket made from behind the taped arc would be worth three points rather than two.
It didn’t catch on.
Not for awhile, anyway.
Now, an original news photo from that day, complete with caption, is being offered at auction, perhaps for the first time. It captures the first moment the three-point line was tested in college basketball.
Our Photo of the Day, in cooperation with RMY Auctions, shows Columbia’s Johnny Profant firing up a three, one of 20 the two schools combined for that day.
The 5×7 Acme News photograph is among hundreds of historic images up for bid in RMY’s March auction.
“It truly belongs in the Hall of Fame,” stated Rhys Yeakley of RMY Auctions. “We have never seen or even heard of another example of this rarity before.”
The two teams also utilized a wider lane that day.
Fans voted on whether they liked the changes and while most paying customers approved of the 3-point shot, writers, coaches, officials and some players thought it was confusing and it would quietly fade away for years.
The photo of the long shot was published in some newspapers the next day. Evidence of that comes from a post on Oregon Hoops History which included the photo and a note at the bottom which indicated “observers of the game said the biggest problem with the new line was it deprived the game of exciting lay-ups.”
For the record, the 3-pointer returned in the early 1960s when it was adopted by the short-lived American Basketball League. Along with the red, white and blue ball, it became a staple of the American Basketball Association in 1967, was adopted by the NBA in 1979 and gradually made its way into the college rule book as well.
You can check out the listing for the photo here. RMY’s auction closes Sunday, March 15.