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Black Fives® Distinctive Line of Basketball Apparel Brings 60 Years of Pre-NBA History to Life

(New York) May, 1996 marks the debut of Black Fives, a new brand of street-wise, culturally relevant, and historically significant basketball apparel from Sports Creative Group, Inc. of New York City. The announcement was made by Charles Johnson, president and creative director of Sports Creative.

The Black Fives brand and its line of apparel is inspired by the triumphs of black athletes who were excluded from playing basketball in popular, mainstream leagues from 1891, when the game was invented, to 1950, when the first black player was signed by the National Basketball Association. Against great odds, these American heroes defined an era by creating their own basketball teams and leagues which flourished in a parallel culture and whos innovative and inspired style of play popularized and changed the nature of the game. In the early days, basketball clubs were often called "fives", refering to the five players per team on the court. During this era, "black fives" played thousands of exhibition games against mainstream opponents and demonstarted superior skills that created hope, pride, unity, and self-empowerment among blacks in the face of racism. These players were true sports pioneers, whos courage, innovation and desire to simply play the game first opened the doors for black basketball at that time, and left a legacy that inspired all athletes of today.

Johnson has created both a branded and a team-identified line, Black Fives and Negro Basketball Clubs, respectively. The Black Fives branded collection features the "Line Up" signature logo, a stylized depiction of the starting five members of a black basketball club of the black five era, embattled and challenged, yet poised and ready to play. Black Fives spokesperson, former New York Renaissance Big Five player and basketball Hall of Famer, William "Pop" Gates remembers, "We wanted to do our best, play our best and carry ourselves like men. We wanted to be an ideal for all people."

The Negro Basketball Clubs team-identified collection includes retrospectively styled re-creations of the authentic basketball uniforms and gear of the original black fives.

The launch line will include replica apparel for the Chicago Hottentots, Incorporators of New York City, Brooklyn Smart Set Club, Company E, Hope Mission, St. Christopher Five, Loendi Big Five, Homestead Steel, Spartan Braves, Union Park Grenadiers, and the Savoy Big Five. To many players of the time, their uniform was espacially significant. Mr. Gates recalls, "The proudest day of my life was when I got my first uniform outfit. I came home and laid it on the bed for my mother to see. I was so proud that she could see that I was able to be as successful with basketball as I was."

Both the Black Fives and Negro Basketball Clubs apparel lines are designed for peak performance through functional styling, fabrication, and construction. They incorporate not only nostalgic, imaginative flavor, but also a contemporary fashionable appeal that is versatile enough to be worn on or off the court. Pieces available for Spring 1996 deliveries include uniform-mesh replica jerseys and shorts, reversible mesh practice jerseys and shorts, heavyweight cotton T-shirts and heavyweight cotton sleeveless T-shirts. Headwear in both branded and team-identified styles is also available. Additional products and a full licensing program will be introduced in Fall 1996.

Both lines also offer a distinctly fresh and meaningful alternative to what retailers and consumers alike have deemed as over-saturation of bland pro-league licensed apparel, attitude wear, and branded offerings by footwear companies. Black Fives and Negro Basketball Clubs apparel will be available at selected Foot Locker stores throughout the United States in key markets nationally.

The Black Fives and Negro Basketball Clubs concepts are part of an effort by Sports Creative to present a once-forgotten yet vital part of American history. This, combined with Johnson's passion for basketball and sports nostalgia was his motivation to create the brands. "I have always been fascinated by history in sport, especially by inspirational stories like those of black fives. We will continue our efforts to bring exposure to this story and others like it, with the idea of creating more product concepts in the future" says Johnson.

Charles Johnson founded Sports Creative Group, Inc. in 1994 with ten years of experience in the design, fashion, and sporting goods industries. He has designed for major brands in both domestic and international markets including Adidas, Converse, Prince Sports Group, Ektelon, Killer Loop, Polo Sport, Ellese, Avia International, Hi-Tec Sports and Saucony. Sports Creative offers creative and marketing services in sport and sport inspired design.

Black Fives, B5, Negro Basketball Clubs, Chicago Hottentots, Incorporators of New York City, Company E, Brooklyn Smart Set Club, Hope Mission, Loendi Big Five, Homestead Steel, Spartan Braves, St. Christopher Five, Union Park Grenadiers, Savoy Big Five and accompanying logos are trademarks of Sports Creative Group, Inc.
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