Max “Marty” Friedman

Max “Marty” Friedman was an American basketball coach, player and gold medalist during the Inter-Allied Games.

Marty Friedman. Image: Basketball Hall of Fame,

Prior to the Inter-Allied Games, Friedman was a professional basketball player. Born in Lower East Side, New York in 1889, Friedman grew up playing basketball on the playgrounds and streets of the Jewish ghetto. His perseverance for the game would continue into adulthood as he would go on to play 17 years as a professional from 1910-1927. Most known for playing with the New York Whirlwinds, Friedman played in every League in the East and was regarded as one of the greatest defensive guards of his era. Often leading his teams to championships, this feat helped to cement his eventual induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame and the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame. However impressive his professional career was, his role in promoting basketball internationally was also as interesting as Friedman would assist in organizing the basketball tournament at the Inter-Allied Games in 1919 while coaching and playing for the Americans.

With the onset of American involvement in World War I, Friedman enlisted in the U.S. Army. Going to Officer Training School and qualifying as a pilot, Friedman would never actually see any combat. At this time, Friedman was a well-known basketball player so much so that there is an account of a commanding officer asking Friedman if he was related to the basketball star “Marty Friedman” of New York’s East side. This acknowledgement sparked his enthusiasm to continue playing while serving in the military, thus he began participating in U.S. Army basketball organizing small tournaments among the troops. Being sent to France, Friedman used this opportunity to promote the game internationally. In doing so, he organized a larger basketball tournament consisting of U.S. Expeditionary Forces servicemen. This competition consisting of 600 teams would then prompt the Inter-Allied Games.

Competing as a playing coach in the Inter-Allied Games, Friedman helped to prepare the American basketball team for it’s scheduled games against Italy and France. Being an extremely successful passer and defensive player in the games, Friedman’s coordination and leadership would help to assist the U.S. team in defeating Italy on the first day of the games. On the last day of the basketball tournament, 12,000 fans gathered at Pershing Stadium to watch Friedman lead the U.S. team to a 93-8 victory over France, capturing the tournaments basketball title. Among those watching the game that day was General John J. Pershing, who would go on to present Friedman with the championship trophy. Also in attendance was basketball inventor Dr. James Naismith there to congratulate Friedman and the Americans on their win.

Man with basketball
Friedman during his professional days. Image: Pro Basketball Encyclopedia,

After the Inter Allied Games, Friedman would continue his basketball career until 1927. The 5 foot 7 Friedman would go on to record at least 1,323 professional points. He finished his career as captain and coach of the Cleveland Rosenblums and was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1971 labeled an “outstanding player” 15 years before his death in 1986.



Featured image  from: “Marty Friedman”

Marty Friedman (basketball),

Holman, Nathan. Scientific Basketball, (Incra Publishing Co., 1922): 108-112

Porter, David L. Basketball: A Biographical Dictionary, (Greenwood Publishing Group, 2005): 156-157

Bernard Postal, Jesse Silver, and Roy Silver, Encyclopedia of JEWS in Sports, (New York: Bloch Publishing Co., 1965)

The Official NBA Encyclopedia: Third Edition, edited by Jan Hubbard (New York: Doubleday, 2000)

Slater, Robert. Great Jews in Sports, (New York: Jonathan David Publishers, 2000)

Mokray, William G., Ronald Encyclopedia of Basketball, (Ronald Press: 1962)

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