Basketball was invented in 1891.
Canadian-born, Dr. James Naismith, a YMCA instructor in Springfield, Massachusetts, laid the foundation for the game with a soccer ball and two peach baskets nailed to both ends of his gymnasium. players were referred to as "fives", denoting the five players per team on the floor.
Blacks in America were first introduced to the game around 1904.
In 1896, the first professional game was played in Trenton, New Jersey.
Popularity of the game at first spread primarily through the YMCA.
After migrating North to find a better life, blacks developed a thriving sporting culture as a means of adjusting to their new urban/industrial settings. All-black YMCAs, church organizations, social clubs, settlement houses, and physical culture clubs created basketball teams, which were popularily referred to as "black fives."
The first known organized black five, the Brooklyn Smart Set Club,
was formed in 1905. In 1906, the Smart Set Club, along with three other local New York black fives, formed the Olympic Athletic League, the first black club league.
The Loendi Big Five
was organized in 1909 by Cumberland Posey, who also owned the Homestead Grays of the Negro Baseball Leagues; Loendi became the first truly famous black five. They dominated the black basketball world for 10 years until the Harlem Globetrotters and the New York Renaissance Big Five arrived on the scene.
By 1913, black fives became widely known for their innovative style of play and superior skills
which helped popularize and change the nature of the game. Black fives such as the Incorporators of New York City, the St. Christopher Five, and the Monticello Five organized barnstorming tours across the country and played thousands of exhibition games against popular mainstream opponents.
In 1922, the New York Renaissance Big Five were formed by Bob Douglas, considered by some the father of black basketball.
Named after Harlem's famed Renaissance Casino, the "Rens" became the first full time, salaried, professional black five. In 1933, the Rens boasted 88 straight wins, a record that still stands today.
In 1946, the organization known today as the National Basketball Association was formed.
Blacks were not invited to play in the newly formed league.
Chuck Cooper was the first black to be drafted into the NBA, in 1950.
Nat "Sweetwater" Clifton was the first black signed by an NBA team, and Earl Lloyd was the first black to play in a regular season NBA game.