On February 13, 1923 The New York Renaissance became the first Black Professional Basketball team.

By John Smallwood, from NBA Encyclopedia

The New York Rens began as the Spartan Braves of Brooklyn, then became the Spartan Five and finally in 1923 emerged as the Renaissance, named after the famed Renaissance Ballroom on 138th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. The Rens, as they were commonly called, were one of the most-watched traveling teams of the barnstorming era. Fans would fill auditoriums to root against them, often insult them and sometimes spit on them.

When the games were finished, their postgame meal often was eaten on the team’s bus because many dining establishments refused to serve them. All because they were African- Americans.

Many claimed that they were the best basketball team of their day. But they were hardly America’s darlings.

Founded by Robert J. Douglas, who is now referred to as the father of black basketball, the Rens were the first full-salaried black professional basketball team, and games against them became sure money-makers. Contests with the Rens were so lucrative that their archrivals — the all-white Original Celtics — refused to join the American Basketball League in 1925, in part because the league did not invite the black club to join.


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