John J. O'Brien

Basketball executive and referee John O’Brien helped mold the modern game. In 1914, he helped form the Inter-State League. Known for his good looks and snappy wardrobe, O’Brien officiated in the New York State League, the Inter-State League, and the Connecticut State League through 1918. Seven years later, he launched the Metropolitan Basketball League, which eventually featured the Original Celtics. President of the league from 1928 to 1931 and 1933 to 1953, he also owned and coached the Brooklyn Pros. Instrumental in the formation of the National League, which played only the 1926-1927 season, O’Brien helped merge many of his Metropolitan League teams into the American Basketball League in 1928. Serving as President of the ABL from 1928 through 1946, he remained active as chairman of the board until the league folded at the conclusion of the 1952-53 season. Staunch supporter of referees and one of the first league administrators to fine players. Dedicated himself to the advancement of professional basketball in the East. Although a consummate businessman, for years O’Brien worked without compensation – basketball was his labor of love.